One of the more iconic High Peaks, Colden is known for the big slides on the side of the mountain. It is most often climbed from Avalanche Lake via Marcy Dam or Lake Colden, and if you have the proper equipment and an adventurous attitude, you can climb it via the Trapdike – a narrow chute up one side of the mountain that requires skilled and thoughtful ascension.
Distance: 13.8 miles round trip from Adirondack Loj
Elevation: 4,714 ft
Ascent: 1,950 ft (from Lake Colden)
Since hiking Colden from Lake Colden via Adirondack Loj is the most popular route, we will outline that route here in detail. So, to begin at Adirondack Loj, you will follow the directions to Marcy Dam and to Avalanche Pass. This means beginning the hike along a rolling to gradual trail for 2.3 miles to Marcy Dam. If you are hiking with younger or less experienced hikers, they can accompany you as far as the dam and then turn back for an easy, gentle walk. Plus, the view from the dam makes it a beautiful place to stop and have a picnic or quick snack. The bridge across the dam washed out in 2011, so you’ll cross the stream a little before the dam. After reaching the dam, you’ll see the trail register ahead for all of the peaks that ascend from here.
Continuing past the trail register you’ll pass some designated campsites off to the right, reaching the Avalanche Pass trailhead in 100 yards. As you continue right on the trail to Avalanche Pass, you will pass the Avalanche camps and soon afterwards hit an intersection where you will take a left. Continue along the beautiful and unique trail through Avalanche Pass until you reach Avalanche Lake. The view from the lake is magnificent, and you will follow the trail over bridges and along the shore of Avalanche Lake until you reach Lake Colden. The trail will begin on the east side of Lake Colden, less than half a mile from the Lake Colden Outlet. You will follow the red trail steadily upwards, through a thick spruce forest – at 0.6 miles you will encounter a ladder.
The ladder will be the start of a very steep and rocky climb. After climbing 0.7 miles after the ladder, the trail will come to another ladder that brings you to an open rock face. You will hike another short ways until you reach the ridge that leads to the summit. Before reaching the summit, you’ll find a somewhat grassy area that has the best views of the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. A little after that, you’ll reach a balanced boulder with great views of Avalanche Lake, just before you proceed to the summit a total 1.6 miles from where the red and yellow trails diverged below.
Directions to Adirondack Loj:
From Lake Placid, take route 73 towards Keene, turning right onto Adirondack Loj Road, which you will follow to the end. There will be a toll booth at the entrance where you will have to pay a $10 parking fee.