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What It’s Like To Climb Mount Colden Via The Trap Dike: A Photo Gallery

'saratoga living' Managing Editor Natalie Moore takes you a tour of one the steepest hikes in the Adirondack Mountains.

Trap Dike
The Mount Colden Trap Dike is one of the steepest, and most rewarding, hikes in the Adirondack Park. (Natalie Moore)
View Gallery 17 Photos
Marcy Dam
Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake
Trap Dike
Trap Dike
Trap Dike
Trap Dike
Trap Dike
Colden Slide
Colden Slide
Colden Slide
Mount Colden
Mount Colden
Colden Slide
Mount Colden
Mount Colden

I’ve done my fair share of hiking. OK, maybe more than my fair share (see “A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking In Upstate New York,” Part I and II). But of all my hikes, which include the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, more than a dozen peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and even Angel’s Landing, the super-sketchy ridge-line trail with thousand-foot drops on either side in Zion National Park, I’ve never hiked anything as adrenaline-inducing as the Mount Colden Trap Dike. The Trap Dike is a mountaineering route up the 4715-foot Adirondack High Peak that starts at the shore of Avalanche Lake and ends at the base of a rock slide, created during Hurricane Irene in 2011. You don’t need climbing gear to hike the Dike, but if it were any steeper, you would.

The idea to hike the Trap Dike was my friend Chris Spoonogle’s (though as someone who’s afraid of heights, I’m not sure why he wanted to). On the afternoon of August 25, Chris, Nick LaRose, Jeremy Krupa and I parked at South Meadow Road (the dirt path off Adirondack Loj Road directly before you get to the parking lot) and headed in, not quite knowing what we were getting ourselves into. We hiked past Marcy Dam, through “misery mile” (my dad’s term for the brutal mile before you get to Avalanche Lake) and around Avalanche Lake, bushwacking the last section to the base of the Trap Dike. It was 5:20pm when we started up the Dike, and we figured we had plenty of daylight left.

The hike was strenuous, requiring not only quads of unusual size (my dad’s Princess Bride-inspired term for strong legs) but arm strength as well. A few times we were full-on rock climbing. When we got to the top of the hump we’d been able to see from the lake, we only found more Dike to be hiked, followed by the giant rock slide on our right. Luckily, the rock on the slide was super grippy, so we were able to walk up the steep incline, but that didn’t stop Chris from being terrified of tumbling all the way back down to the lake. Finally, at around 7:30pm, we pulled ourselves up off the slide and onto somewhat of a trail that brought us to the summit. I’ve never seen a sunset from the top of a mountain, and this one was about as well earned as it gets.

My recommendations for future Dike hikers:

  • Be in better shape than I was
  • Be an experienced hiker
  • Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish it before dark
  • Don’t do it with a full pack on your back
  • Don’t be afraid of heights

Click on the photo above to enjoy the full photo gallery of our hike.

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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