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2 nights backpacking, end of Sept loop?

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  • 2 nights backpacking, end of Sept loop?

    Hi there! I've been wanting to visit the Adirondacks for years and finally looks like it's coming together, so I'm very excited!

    I am headed up in a few weeks and I've gone back and forth about what should be our itinerary. I have a fair bit of experience hiking/backpacking out on the west coast, but not in the northeast.
    I've found a few threads with similar information requests but not quite what we're looking for.

    • We'll be backpacking and will have a tent and gear, so no need to stick to the Lean-tos. In fact, would much prefer privacy.
    • Arriving Friday morning (Sept 27), but maybe not until around 8am. A little worried about parking situation. Are Friday mornings anything like Saturdays in terms of parking?
    • Two nights. Would be comfortable with 10 ish miles/day but flexible. Leaving Sunday but also flexible on time.
    • Avoiding crowds for camping. We don't need complete solitude but I don't want to look for a campsite like it's a music festival. Note that this is mostly just a priority for the evenings, not so much during the day while hiking.
    • Views for the fall foliage.
    • Zero interest in peak-bagging, BUT obviously it helps to get some elevation to see the fall colors. If a ridgeline gives a great view, that's a-ok
    • Water would be nice, esp for campsites, but I do understand you can't have it all.
    Research seems to suggest maybe circumnavigating the Sewards? However, wouldn't you need to climb a peak or two to get a view? What I read about actually climbing those mountains make them sound v muddy, even outside of spring, and very hard. Would the Colvin range and camping in Elk pass be too crowded?

    Would love some experienced input on our trip. Looking for what would be the nicest overall Fall experience for a couple first-timers to the region, doesn't have to be the highest/remotest/etc necessarily. Thanks in advance. I'm super pumped!

  • #2
    Welcome! You'll get a lot of good info here. Here are some starters:

    >Parking should be pretty easy then; there's a bit of a lull between Labor Day and Columbus Day. To avoid parking problems, stay off the route 73 corridor which NY State is screwing up. The other parking challenge is the Elk Lake lot, but I think that may be closed by then for hunting season anyway.

    >Pack for early winter. It's already been down to freezing in Saranac Lake (Lake Clear Airport weather station). It can be well below freezing, and it can snow a bit in late September.

    >If you avoid the "shortest trail to any of the 46 peaks" you will avoid most of the mud. Many smaller mountains have great views for foliage, and are not as heavily traveled.

    >If you definitely want to be in the High Peaks region, pick up the ADK High Peaks Hiking Guidebook. Lot's of important information, and a good list of options.

    >Within the High Peaks, don't forget to consider options in the Giant Mountain Wilderness

    >If you consider areas outside the High Peaks, Pharaoh Wilderness is an option - it can also be very popular but has lots of camping and loop options.

    Good luck!


    • #3
      Sewards circumnavigation is a great hike and doable in 2 nights. Day 1 hike in, climb Seymour for some views then camp at camp 4. Day 2 hike down NPT to Cold River LTs. Day 3 Hike out (make sure to stop at Latham pond).
      Colvin Range would also be doable and you would get better views (as long as weather cooperates) but would be more in the peak bagging category than backpacking. Also there would most likely be more people.


      • #4
        And the mud maybe frozen then.


        • #5
          There was a great thread on our related forum, ADKForum, about secluded 3 day loops...this sounds like your 2 night, less crowd request. Here is a link to that thread...

          Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.


          • #6
            Having done the Seward range on the first weekend in October previously, they would not be my first recommendation for fall foliage. The trails will be very muddy and depending what time you ascend, Seward might resemble a frozen waterfall. That said, here are some options for a nice hike with some views:

            Friday: Drive to Corey's road parking, hike into No. 4 lean-tos and set up camp. They are a bit further but are on a stream/river and away from the relatively more crowded blueberry/ward brook trails and campsites/lean-tos. Though it will add mileage on the weekend, you might find it more relaxed to have this as your basecamp for the weekend and hike back to it.
            ambitious plan is to do Seward on Friday. It has the best views of the bunch (from lookout rocks just below the summit), so you want to make sure you have good weather and plenty of daylight when you do it.

            Saturday: do Seymour if you did not do it Friday.
            Otherwise, do Seward and Donaldson (if you're not into peak bagging there is no reason to do Emmons) from the northside of Seward. If I were you I would go down Calkins brook even if it means walking wardbrook/blueberry back to the no 4's.

            Sunday: hike out.

            This area definitely checks the box for being out of the way and the chaos of the high peaks wilderness. Bonus, you can have fires and there are some nice fire pits at many campsites and lean-tos in this range. Parking is pretty easy to find. I've gone up on the Sunday the last few long weekends and had absolutely no problem with parking. The lot should basically be empty on a Friday morning.

            Have fun!