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Giant Mountain

Giant Mountain

Elevation4,627 feet (1,410 meters)
Prominence2,953 feet (900 meters)
Region Giant Mountain Wilderness Area
Coordinates44°09′40″N 73°43′13″W
First Ascent1797 by Charles Broadhead
Order of Height12th

Giant Mountain, or "Giant of the Valley," is the twelfth highest peak in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State at 4,627 feet above sea level. It is located within the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area. A high level of accessibility from multiple trails and stellar views make Giant Mountain one of the most popular High Peak mountain day hikes within the Adirondack Park. The most popular trails up Giant are among the shorter trails that lead to an Adirondack High Peak summit, but the trails also aggressively gain elevation to compensate. This relentless climb may prove difficult for novice hikers. With an impressive five different trail options, longer routes that are either more private, more scenic, and/or more difficult are also available.


The Giant Mtn Ridge Trail/Zander Scott Trail
The trail begins off the highway NY 73 at the Chapel Pond Trailhead.
Distance to summit: 3.2 miles
Elevation gain: 3,050 feet

The Giant Mtn Ridge Trail (a.k.a. "Ridge Trail" or "Zander Scott Trail"; both names are commonly used) is the shortest trail up Giant and it also features the least amount of vertical ascent. Despite these facts, it remains a merciless trail that ascends roughly a thousand feet a mile for each of the three miles it spans. Unaccustomed legs will find this a difficult trail, but it is the most direct, quickest, and most popular route to the summit. Frequent, expansive views do highlight the trail and provide ample time to rest while taking them in. The Zander Scott trail also leads the hiker directly to the Giant Washbowl, a high elevation pond featuring nearby popular campsites, and provides the best access via a half mile side trail to the open rock Nubble and its 360 degree views. The Nubble is a short, worthy destination of its own. The Ridge/Zander Scott Trail meets up with the Roaring Brook Trail before meeting the intersection with the trail down Giant's steep col toRocky Peak Ridge (the East Trail). Shortly after the intersection the trail comes to the summit.

Roaring Brook Trail
The trail begins in a small parking lot on highway NY 73 at the Roaring Brook Trailhead.
Distance to summit: 3.6 miles
Elevation gain: 3,375 feet

The Roaring Brook Trail is the oldest remaining trail on Giant. Cut in 1873, the trail once was graded for horses nearly all the way to the summit. There are no horses to be found today, but there is Roaring Brook itself as a draw to the trail. Roaring Brook Falls is a sight not to be missed when the water is higher and the view from the top of the falls on the trail is stellar. The trail continues up the mountain until it reaches the merger with the Ridge Trail and continues to the summit.

Mossy Cascade/Hopkins Trail
The trail begins along the road on highway NY 73 at the Mossy Cascade / Hopkins Trailhead.
Distance to summit: 6 miles
Elevation gain: 3,500 feet

The route up Giant that begins with the Mossy Cascade trail will likely bring the hiker a sense of solitude as they wind their way through some unspoiled forests. The lack of consistent views on this trail compared to the other options up Giant lead to it being one of the lesser used options. The trail does, however, feature a short, 0.2 miles side trip on the way to Giant that leads to the open rock summit of Hopkins Mountain which is a worthy destination of its own. Afterwards the trail ascends a shoulder of Green Mountain before passing through a potentially swampy stretch of trail and linking up with the North Trail for the rest of the way to the summit.

North Trail from Route 9N
The trail begins in a small parking lot off route NY 9N at the North Trail Trailhead.
Distance to summit: 7.4 miles
Elevation gain: 3,327 feet

Owing to its distance compared to the quicker trails up Giant, the North Trail from Route 9N will likely offer the hiker a strong sense of solitude similar to the Mossy Cascade Trail. The North Trail, however, is both a longer route and one with perhaps a few more interesting features along the way. The features include campsites near Slide Brook a little over a mile in, Owl Head Lookout and its spectacular views, an interesting glacier gravel feature in High Bank, and the only lean-to available en route to the Giant of the Valley. After the lean-to the trail links up with the Mossy Cascade/Hopkins trail for the remainder of the route to the summit.

East Trail overRocky Peak Ridge
The trail begins in a parking lot on highway NY 9 at the New Russia Trailhead.
Distance to summit: 8 miles
Elevation gain: 5,300 feet

Though it is without question the most difficult route that reaches the summit of Giant Mountain, the 14th edition of the ADK's High Peak Trails guidebook refers to this route as "probably the best hike in all the Adirondacks." The East Trail is a strenuous hike that will lead a hiker up, over, and down several peaks (including fellow high peak Rocky Peak Ridge) that feature consistent and expansive views of the surrounding lands. The East trail is often combined with a descent down one of the shorter trails on the opposite side of Giant to make a traverse. This requires a car at each trail head. Due to the many ups and downs of this trail, it features the highest elevation gain of any trail in the Adirondacks.

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