Climbing Mt. Marcy – Trailhead to Marcy Dam

Climbing Mt. Marcy – Van Hoevenberg Trailhead to Marcy Dam
Trail info (from ADK High Peaks Region guidebook):
Van Hoevenberg Trail to Mt. Marcy
Distance from Trailhead (one-way):
To Marcy Dam – 2.3 miles
To Indian Falls – 4.4 miles
To Summit of Mt. Marcy – 7.4 miles
Ascent: 3166 ft (965 m)
Elevation: 5344 ft. (1629 m)

I had camped overnight in the campground at the Adirondack LOJ.  Although there were still damp spots from the snowstorm of two days earlier, the warm temperatures had succeeded in melting the snow quickly. At about 8AM, the temperature at the trailhead was about +10C (+50F) and everything was quite pleasant.  However, the ranger and the trail workers had assured me that if I did reach the peak of Mt. Marcy today, I would only do so by trudging through a lot of snow and slush and would definitely get wet. The estimated snowfall from two days earlier was 2 feet of new snow on top of the remnants of the winter snow, now slush.


Bears are a concern in the Adirondack Mountains and especially in the High Peaks Region so anyone planning on staying overnight is asked if they have a bear canister in which to store their food. Not the only rule!


I have visited this area a number of times but the most recent trips have been during the winter months so this was the first time in a long time that I had actually walked the lower section of the Van Hoevenberg trail when it wasn’t covered in snow and all of the wooden bits across streams and soft spots are not visible underfoot.

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Although there were a few wet spots along the trail, this first section of the trail was well drained and there were many signs that the maintenance crew had been hard at work in the past day or two to assist Mother Nature in getting the recent snow melt to drain away from the trail.

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The morning was new, the air was fresh, my legs were fresh and I knew the lower portion of the trail so I headed upward in good spirits. Of course, any time that I felt that I might need to slow down my enthusiasm a bit, the camera came to the rescue and I would stop to take another picture or two :-).

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The trail maintenance folks guaranteed me that I would get wet but made no mention of the status of the crossing at Marcy Dam so when I arrived at the dam and found no crossing in place, my immediate reaction was – OOPS! After a few moments of disbelief, I saw the sign pointing downstream to a new crossing bridge.

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Once I got across the new bridge and headed back upstream to the opposite side of Marcy Dam I stopped and thought for a little while about whether or not I really wanted to get wet, cold and tired in order to get to the peak today. At the Marcy Dam elevation, it would have been so nice and comfortable to just sit for an hour or two and enjoy the scenery and sounds of Spring and the water flowing over the dam.

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Then I decided, what the heck, I could always turn back part way and come back to Marcy Dam of the going got too rough, so off I headed up Section 2 of the Van Hoevenberg Trail – Marcy Dam to Mt. Marcy. I didn’t know it at the time but later found out that only 8 of us would be trying to hike to the peak this day – 5 would make it and 3 would turn back.


About Ron

Ron has long had an interest in photography and traveling and, in recent years, has had more time to devote to both activities. Long a Pentax user, Ron switched to Nikon gear when he went digital. The advent of the digital SLR camera, and the ease of the internet blogging process, has provided a venue for sharing his photography and travel experience at the local, national and international level. More about Ron
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