A Cannonball Run Up Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike

My pal Matt has a habit of texting late at night with last minute invitations to meet for a quick trip up an Adirondack peak. I am halfway through my quest to hike all 46 High Peaks, so he knows about my passion for these mountains. It was only a matter of time before I texted him back: “I’m in!” Since Matt and I both have young families at home, we put into play what we had been dreaming up for some time, and that was to put the kids to bed, then do a cannonball run to the mountains.

Two days later and we’re scurrying to finish out responsibilities and load our vehicles. Matt got a head start and made it to the campsite around 10pm. I left late and arrived after midnight. I will tell you, there is nothing better than rolling up and seeing your friend, a campfire, and a pitched tent waiting for you. We chatted until we fell asleep, then woke at 5am, packed up, and headed to the trailhead for an oatmeal breakfast and a few sips of some freshly ground coffee.

April 15th was an absolute gorgeous morning that began with a cool 29ºF temperature. We ascended the face of Giant Mountain as the sun rose over the surrounding peaks, shedding light on the Dix Range and other fellow High Peaks. 0.7 miles from the trailhead will give you a good look at why you’re doing this kind of hike in the first place. Breathtaking. We were so enamored by the views that the peak sneaked up on us. We arrived at 4627ft, let it soak in, then dropped our packs and headed for Rocky Peak Ridge. We lost 1300ft and had to quickly regain 1000ft of it. From the top of Rocky Peak we were able to see the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain. We spent the next few hours descending, ascending, then descending again to where our chariots awaited. We hugged, high-fived, and went our separate ways back home. It was epic.

  • Where: Keene, NY
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  • Features: Giant washbowl, chapel pond, open rock face for most of the climb, amazing views of neighboring High Peaks
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  • Difficulty Level: Medium — Steeper sections and trail can be icy in Winter/Spring. Crampons or MICROspikes may be necessary
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  • Get There: 44°09′40″N, 73°43′13″W — 2-hour drive north of Albany and 4.5-hour drive north of New York City
Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  This is what your Subaru may look like after a fast pack in the dark!

Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  There are other trails to the summit, but this is the trailhead for the climb to Giant Mountain via the Ridge Trail.

Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  Signing into the trail register lets NYS DEC know where you are going and when you will be back, which can aid in search and rescue in the event you are missing.

Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com
Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com
Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  Fairly early into the hike, after the first big ascent, we reached Giant Washbowl and immediately wished we brought fly rods!

Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  Cooler temperatures and higher elevation had prevented most of the melting on the trails, so crampons or MICROspikes were a must-have.

Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com
Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com
Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com
Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  One of my favorite aspects of hiking these peaks is occasionally stumbling upon the geological survey markers. I try to imagine the harsh weather they must see.

Giant Mountain: An Adirondack 46 Hike. andnorth.com

  Matt and his daughter had been practicing handstands; he thought there’d be no better place to show off.