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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)
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17 Photos
Marcy Dam
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.

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Marcy Dam is 2.8 miles from South Meadow Road, and is a popular camping spot for overnight hikers. (Nick LaRose)

Avalanche Lake
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.

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The trail along the northwest side of Avalanche Lake is right next to the water, and sometimes, directly above it. (Nick LaRose)

Avalanche Lake
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.

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The Trap Dike ascends from the southeast shore of Avalanche Lake. (Natalie Moore)

Avalanche Lake
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.

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Jeremy Krupa filters some lake water on the shore of Avalanche Lake before heading up the Trap Dike. (Natalie Moore)

Trap Dike
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.

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The view of the Trap Dike from Avalanche Lake doesn't do the hike justice: It continues far beyond what the eye can see. (Natalie Moore)

Trap Dike
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.

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Author Natalie Moore catches her breath in the Trap Dike. (Nick LaRose)

Trap Dike
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.

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The Trap Dike straddles the line between "hike" and "climb." (Nick LaRose)

Trap Dike
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.

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Chris Spoonogle (front) and Jeremy Krupa (back) on a rare flat point in the Trap Dike. (Nick LaRose)

Trap Dike
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.

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Nick LaRose (back), Chris Spoonogle (middle) and Jeremy Krupa (front) near the top of the Trap Dike. (Natalie Moore)

Colden Slide
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.

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At the top of the Trap Dike, hikers make a right-hand turn up a rock slide, which was formed during Hurricane Irene in 2011. (Jeremy Krupa)

Colden Slide
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.

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Nick LaRose waits for his friend to climb from the Trap Dike to the rock slide. (Jeremy Krupa)

Colden Slide
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.

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Author Natalie Moore makes her way (slowly) up the slide. (Nick LaRose)

Mount Colden
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.

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Chris Spoonogle (left) and Nick LaRose near the summit of Mount Colden as the sun sets. (Natalie Moore)

Mount Colden
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.

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The view from the top of the rock slide. (Nick LaRose)

Colden Slide
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.

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Looking down at the rock slide from the top. (Nick LaRose)

Mount Colden
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.

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The view from the (almost) summit of Mount Colden. (Nick LaRose)

Mount Colden
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.

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Chris Spoonogle walks along the ridge on the summit of Mount Colden. (Nick LaRose)

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

Natalie Moore is the managing editor at saratoga living.

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