#11 Mount Colden

#11 Mount Colden - Pure Adirondacks

One of the more iconic Adirondack 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.

Trail Stats:

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.

External Resources




High Peaks Map

Plan & prepare for your ADK adventure! ADK Mountain Club's topographic trail map, High Peaks: Adirondack Trail Map, revised edition as of Summer 2021. The go-to map for the latest on High Peaks trails, lean-tos, campsites, and public-private land boundaries, many of which have changed in the last year alone.

46 Adirondack High Peaks

Roster of Peaks

Keep it PURE

Remember to Leave No Trace! Buy a physical map, read it, plan, and prepare. Think about the NYS Rangers and medical personnel that exhaust themselves for a rescue that could have been avoided. Pack out your trash. Use a bear canister when primitive camping and cook away from where you’re sleeping. Do the rock walk to help reduce the impact on fragile alpine vegetation. Camp at designated campsites and never camp on or near summits.

Trail Conditions

Know before you go

The 46 of 46 Podcast

An outdoors documentary podcast of a local hiker's journey hiking all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains to become an Adirondack 46er. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.

Take The Pledge!


Each year, millions of people visit the public lands inside the Adirondacks. However you choose to spend your time here, we know the Adirondacks will hold a special place in your heart. We feel the same way. To Love Your Adirondacks is to protect the lands, waters, and communities we all know and love.

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