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Sawteeth / Gothics loop or out and back?

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  • Sawteeth / Gothics loop or out and back?

    Hiking from AMR this coming Saturday. Me (age 51, 16/46), friend K (51, 5/46), friend R (45, 0/46). K is a stronger hiker than me. Have never hiked with R although he is active, works outdoors, and has taken many moderate family hikes. Am not "really" concerned about R, but these will be his first High Peaks so you just never know when it comes to a first timer over about 12 miles and 4000 ely (quick guess).

    I'd consider my pace is "average" and extended ascent does slow my pace, however, I seem to meet my predicted times pretty well so I think I am realistic about my abilities. I think K and I could make a Scenic /Weld loop with out and back to Gothics in 10 - 11 hours, but we nave never been on any of these trails and R is the wildcard.

    How much more challenging would a Scenic / Weld loop be vs. just a Weld Trail out and back? How does continuing past Gothics to Beaver Meadow Falls change things? I'd rather not take that trail this trip for some reason. Only reason would be if we went for Armstrong too which in that case I would only do if we had ascended via Weld as I think Scenic Saw Gothics Arm Beaver is too much.

    Also, what's the time difference if we leave lake road about half way to damn for the east river trail? For water mgmt I plan to fill up at damn since it looks to be dry until two-thirds down Weld or Beaver. Have only been down lake road to the Leach Trail so far (Dial).

  • #2
    Having just done both again this year each time climbing to Sawteeth. I'd say the Scenic trail is longer and slower (steeper in places) than the Weld trail. You'll have to follow the Lake Shore which has some up and down. It'll be interesting to see others answer.

    Continuing onto Gothics you climb over Pyramid which is the most strenuous part of the trip. If your feeling bushed at Sawteeth consider a loop or an out and back.

    If you make it to Gothics going out via Beaver Meadows won't be much different than backtracking over Pyramid....that being said what I mean is that both are steep. Obviously it is a shorter trip returning via Beaver Meadows. It's a relatively easier descent off Gothics to the junction of the trail to Beaver Meadows.


    P.S. Don't pass up on the spur trail to the base of Rainbow Falls. It is worth the short trip. Note that the spur trail is uphill from the junction to the Scenic Trail.


    • #3
      Just talking about Sawteeth: The scenic trail will take you WAY longer than a Weld out and back. Weld out and back is very easy and fast. People I know have done it from the junction in 25 minutes round trip - but at normal hiking pace the round trip shouldn't take more than an hour from the junction.


      • #4
        What they said. Scenic Trail is very scenic but takes longer to ascend Sawteeth than via Weld.

        Trail up and over Pyramid to Gothics is steep and demanding.

        ​​For a nice day, suggest ascending Sawteeth via Scenic Trail (several lookouts along the way) and descending via Weld.

        Adding Gothics to the above changes everything. There's considerably more distance and elevation gain involved as well as steeper terrain.

        "Easiest" route to Gothics (relatively speaking) is via Beaver Meadows Trail (continuing along the ADK Range Trail to the summit).​ An out-and-back to Gothics along this trail is not the most exciting itinerary but it avoids the more challenging aspects of the other routes to Gothics' summit. On the other hand, if you want a challenging and memorable route, head up via Weld Trail over Pyramid (one of the best views in the High Peaks) to Gothics and then descend via Beaver Meadows Trail.

        Looking for Views!


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies. To clarify, I have read opinions on here that Weld is more enjoyable than Beaver Meadow for slope, erosion, scenery. I went up the cable route 2 years ago so have already been on Gothics, but am super excited for the southern approach. Pyramid looked steeeep on both sides and was confirmed by those in my group that day who went on from Gothics to Sawteeth out and back and then down the range to Arm, UWJ and LWJ. Sadly, I turned back from Gothics to retreat to the Orebed lean-to.

          So is it foolish to backtrack from Gothics back to the Weld trail, or should we just exit via Beaver Meadow? And should we go for the Scenic trail ascent instead. My original thought was keep it simple with both ascent/decent via Weld. I want to WOW both the other guys. Just Sawteeth and Gothics should be enough for that, but adding Scenic could be epic as long as it doesn't prove to be too much.


          • #6
            Originally posted by aortadax View Post
            ... adding Scenic could be epic as long as it doesn't prove to be too much.
            ​Yes but by what measure are you determining "too much"? One of your group, "R", is 0/46 and you've never hiked with him. How do you know what "R" can comfortably hike in a day?

            ​I know you want to "WOW both the other guys" but be careful what you wish for. You may very well get the "WOW!" followed by a "I never want to do that again!"

            Looking for Views!


            • #7
              Trail Boss, you summed it up perfectly. Best not to push the boundaries since both S & G is the goal. Up Weld, a quick trip over to Saw and then Pyr and Goth. Down and out Beaver Meadows. Should leave us time for west or east river trail unless it has become a misery march and we need to make time on the lake road.


              • #8
                aortadax, I did Sawteeth & Gothics with a first-timer, my 13-year-old nephew. I too was concerned about how he would fare, but both he and his mother made both summits no problem.


                One really cool aspect of the Weld Trail is how intimidating it appears. When you crest Pyramid, you can see the trail up Gothics (and make out the teeny-tiny people) and it looks impossibly steep. Once you get there, it isn't so bad, but kind of like climbing the Beckhorn there is a visual impression which lasts. And Pyramid is great for views.

                Beaver Meadows is much longer descending than Weld. I would go that way only if I wanted to hike Armstrong as well.

                Last thing: If I had known that my nephew would handle the hike so well, I 100% would have ascended the Scenic Trail first, looped around and done an out-and-back of Gothics via Weld. The Scenic Trail isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. And it's...scenic.
                ADK 46/46W, Grid 237/552
                Photos & Stuff


                • #9
                  One of the nice things about getting old is your memory sometimes fails you. I recall the trip last year up to Sawteeth on Weld tuckered me out but going on over Pyramid and Gothics was a breeze. Ahhh sweet senility.


                  • #10
                    As someone who thinks primarily about aesthetics, climbing Sawteeth without doing the Scenic Trail, especially if there is a chance any of you will only do it once, is insane. There is a reason they called it the Scenic Trail. And, of course, the Scenic Trail allows you to climb among the "teeth" which are the defining freaking feature of the mountain. If you aren't sure about the stamina of the party, and really want to go for the wow factor, I would recommend just doing the loop over Gothics, out over Pyramid and back via Beaver Meadow. Then at a later date, do a loop over Sawteeth which will allowing you to enjoy what the mountain has to offer rather than treating it as a rushed addendum to a longer trek.


                    • #11

                      Originally posted by Gregory Karl
                      As someone who thinks primarily about aesthetics, climbing Sawteeth without doing the Scenic Trail, especially if there is a chance any of you will only do it once, is insane. There is a reason they called it the Scenic Trail. And, of course, the Scenic Trail allows you to climb among the "teeth" which are the defining freaking feature of the mountain.
                      Follow this advice. Do the scenic trail (on the way up).

                      Unless you absolutely "have" to get 2 peaks.

                      Scenic trail takes longer, but its also worth slowing down for. Probably my favorite of the high peaks trails I've been on. Besides, gothics is easy to combo with multiple peaks along the range; if you're tired or time is short after sawteeth, you can always come back for gothics & friends. It's almost a shame to hike gothics or armstrong without getting the other anyway.

                      Also relevant; id take the weld, wedge brook, orebed and wolfjaws brook trails all over beaver meadow falls trail. But opinions vary.


                      • #12
                        Just did the Scenic Trail on Saturday for the 3rd time (last time was socked in and raining) . We chose it so as to avoid the crowds (cars parked along 73 for as far as the eye could see). We started from the gate at 11:30. Saw 4 people who were descending, no one on top where we sat for about 45 minutes, or all the way out either, except for 4 people on the road. The Scenic Trail is absolutely amazing. Not to be missed.
                        Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.


                        • #13
                          So we made the hike last weekend 9/16 (same day as Neil above) and it was simply magnificent. “R” could not make it at the last moment, so “K” and I put on our big boy shorts and decided to go for the Scenic Trail up and over the Sawteeth peaks. For a change of scenery we stayed down in Lake George village instead of LP so after a late dinner Friday we were up early enough leaving the motel/resort parking lot at 5:53, parked at 6:44 and signed the register at the AMR Gate at 7:07. We hoofed it along the Lake Road arriving at the dam 8:21 after taking a few minutes to steal a look at the boat house atop a tranquil glass-like Lower Ausable Lake embraced by the Colvin Range just emerging into autumn yellow with a hint of maple red. Along the north shore we were able to target the first section of our day’s trek. Never having been there, I was pleasantly surprised at the clean lines of the concrete dam where I subsequently delayed us another 15 minutes to filter and fill up my water stores, change shoes and grab a quick bite. My partner has yet to filter and chose to carry (3) 32-oz. Gatorade from the car.

                          With this glorious stretch of sunny weather beckoning us on, we started along the lake shore and soon turned away up the Scenic Trail….for the next 3+ hours. And did it ever live up to it’s name. My gosh, the series of lookouts back to the Colvin Range and beyond as well as west to the upper lake were simultaneously inspiring, energizing, glorious and peaceful. Equally worthy are the views to the north of the 3 humps of Sawteeth as Pyramid and Gothics reveal themselves drawing one further in towards the Great Range. 9:28 found us at what I think was the 1st Lookout with the balancing rock. At 10:33 we were atop the first ridge where the way north really opens up. Over the second hump and through Cougar Gulch our pace noticeably slowed so we ignored the spur to Marble Point and arrived to the Sawteeth summit at noon to enjoy PB&Js amidst it’s iconic High Peaks views.

                          Gothics with a side of Armstrong was next on the menu so we started down to the Weld Trail junction about 12:30. I was hoping to take that trail a couple weeks ago when planning began, but it was not to be. Dark clouds greeted our arrival to Pyramid at 2:00, but moved through quickly to the southeast with nary a drop upon the twenty or so hikers we shared Pyramid and Gothics with that day. I was pretty well spent atop Pyramid and could not force myself to eat as much as I knew I should, but I did lay down for 10 minutes before we bopped over to Gothics in about 25 minutes, arriving just past 2:30. A couple of 4 or 5 person groups of young people were enjoying the summit views as the dark clouds moved by and we were even treated(?) to a drone show buzzing up Johns Brook valley and possibly the cable route. Was not being controlled by anyone on the summit we could see. Did not find it obtrusive this one time, but still prefer to never see one in there unless part of a SAR effort.

                          The game time decision now was to proceed over to Armstrong and double back down Beaver Meadows Trail to make our exit. The descent off Gothics was uneventful and we soon passed by the col and junction and continued up to Armstrong’s summit along ever muddier trails. At least I presume we did. The rock outcropping had incredible views, but we saw no sign or summit marker and even followed the trail for about 200 yards as it kept losing elevation before we turned back. After a final view from the ledge and conferring with another hiker with a GPS to no avail, we retreated back towards the col. But just as we passed through one of the larger mud holes, of course, we heard fresh voices from the rock ledge. So not wanting to be denied a “true summit” we went all the way back there, but those guys had no idea either. Back to the col.

                          We met up with a twosome and threesome at the junction and started down Beaver Meadows knowing we had at least 3 hours of daylight to reach Lake Road. The first section of trail is a side hill traverse and by now my pace had slowed to about 1 mph. The other groups moved quickly ahead never to be seen again and we slogged our way down the top third of the descent for about an hour which I found to be rough trail and thoroughly unenjoyable. I’m hoping this is a first time / last time thing for this trail. The middle section was easier and the short span down just before Beaver Falls was very steep. I’d hate to go up that. It was 5:58 by this time, 11 hours in, and I was not in a happy place to appreciate the falls. Next time. Probably a half hour later we made the road and the little red clock on my dashboard said 7:11 when we reached the car. All in all, a memorable and fantastic 12-hour hike. Will try to set-up on a picture hosting site or experiment with small size photos to add to the report soon.

                          The drive back to Lake George included a road block on I-87 where our U.S. citizenship allowed us immediate passage, however, Homeland Security and State Police were surely looking for someone. Showered up and walked over to Duffy’s Tavern for another late dinner. Lake George worked out very well and will definitely do this again for Elk Lake, Upper Works and St. Hubert’s / Keene trailheads. If one is coming from the south it makes more sense than staying in Lake Placid.