High Peaks Backpacking Adventure

A couple of months ago, Andrew and I went on an overnight backpacking trip in the Adirondack High Peaks. We had been doing mostly day trips, so it was nice to set up camp and sleep in the great outdoors!



At Marcy Dam

I absolutely love trail signs and seeing how the different routes meet up and spread out.


Lots of trail signs in the Adirondack High Peaks

We took a trail that neither of us had taken before that went from Marcy Dam, up a pretty steep and rocky route to Lake Arnold and then back down to Feldspar Lean-to, where we planned on camping for the night.


Lake Arnold

While Lake Arnold was a beautiful and peaceful place to stop for a snack, and I always enjoy checking out trails I’ve never been on, it was pretty tiring climbing all the way up to about 3,800 feet, only to climb back down to our lean-to. And it was the source of more than a little grumbling from my end on the hike out the next day.


Blowdown around the trail on the way down from Lake Arnold

We got to Feldspar Lean-to fairly early in the afternoon and set up camp. It got pretty buggy by the time the sun went down, so we actually decided to sleep in our tent, which we had packed just in case, instead of being eaten alive while we slept.

The lean-to itself was one of the nicest I’ve been to. It was very clean with a stream just down the hill for drinking water and a few nice tent sites around it. Definitely a great spot to spend the night if you’re in the area!


Our view from Feldspar Lean-To

After setting up camp and relaxing for a bit, it was time for dinner. I had picked up a few Backpacker’s Pantry freeze-dried meals to try. I had the Pad Thai, which was pretty good. It comes with peanut butter and peanuts to mix in. And it was spicier than I though it would be! So if you like food with a kick to it, I’d definitely recommend this one!

Stuffing my face with vegan camp food goodness.

Stuffing my face with vegan camp food goodness.

The next morning we headed out pretty early. We had a long day ahead of us, climbing Mount Skylight and Mount Marcy, before hiking back out to the car.


Steep, rocky trails were pretty much it for us on this trip

The trail was very steep and rocky for the most part from Feldspar Lean-to to Lake Tear of the Clouds. It was definitely a tough stretch, but totally worth it when we got to Lake Tear, which is the highest pond in the state at 4,293 feet in elevation. It’s a really pretty spot, and from there you can see Mount Marcy. It looked so far away at that point, but that was where we were eventually headed.


Lake Tear of the Clouds, with Mount Marcy in the distance

Before heading up Mount Marcy, we turned to Mount Skylight. At 4,926 feet it’s the fourth highest mountain in New York State. And while I’ve climbed Mount Marcy before, this was my first time on Skylight. It was a short half mile from the Four Corners to the summit. Short, but steep!

I love seeing all of the delicate little plants that live in the alpine zone. It’s amazing that these little flowers can survive the wind and cold of such an exposed environment.


Diapensia on Mount Skylight


And the view was spectacular. We really were lucky to have had such a perfect day.


Panorama from the summit of Mount Skylight, with Mount Marcy in the center.

After a small snack and a short rest, we headed back down to the Four Corners and started the climb up Mount Marcy. It was only eight tenths of a mile to the top, but it felt like the longest eight tenths of a mile of my life! I remembered it being steep from the first time I hiked it a few years earlier, but it still blew my mind. Once you’re above treeline, it’s just a super steep pile of rocks to the top. Needless to say, we stopped for a few breathers on the way up.


Last leg of the hike up Mount Marcy

But we made it all the way up to 5,343 feet, the highest point in New York State! There were a few others on the summit, but there was plenty of room for everyone to relax, have some lunch and enjoy the breathtaking view.


On the summit of Mount Marcy with my love!

One of the reasons I love the Adirondack High Peaks so much is because when you get out into the middle of it all, there’s nothing but mountains as far as you can see, in all directions. You can do short day hikes or multiple day backpacking trips. It’s perfect.


View from Mount Marcy

The hike out was long and tiring. We went back down Mount Marcy, past Lake Tear of the Clouds, back down to Feldspar Lean-To, back up to Lake Arnold, back down to Marcy Dam and back out the the Adirondak Loj trailhead and our car. Altogether we hiked about 12 miles that day. Luckily it was a beautiful day and the views were well worth the tired feet and sore shoulders.


More trail signs in the Adirondacks

Being out in the beauty of the mountains and the peacefulness of the forest always gets me centered. I can’t think of anything I love more than being in nature. I hope to have many more adventures like this one!