Lower Wolfjaw 4,175’ High Peak #30 in height
Upper Wolfjaw 4,185’ High Peak #29 in height
Armstrong 4,400’ High Peak #22 in height
Date: September 4th 2013
Start: AMR Gate
Mileage: Roughly 13 miles
Time: About 10 hours
This three summit hike is ideal for those getting to know the High Peak Region. This hike is one of the easiest among High Peak hikes and can be made longer by continuing on the Ridge Trail and summiting other mountains. I did this section with just these three mountains as one of my first multi-peak high peak hikes and found I would have liked to continue on to Gothics, but the weather would not permit it. I plan to return to this trail and hike the whole range together at some point.
Tyler and I hit the trail early on this beautiful end of summer day to explore part of the Lower Great Range. The Great Range spans 12 miles and is home to Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, and Haystack. We started our day at the Ausable Mountain Club parking lot and enjoyed the views from the golf course as we walked to the trailhead.
We signed in at the trail log and saw the incredibly ornate wooden gate blocking cars from entering the road. This road is the source of much contention among the Adirondack community as the Ausable Club prevents non-members from driving on this 3 mile road or utilizing the club bus which regularly shuttles club members to and from trail heads. What I find personally most annoying is that the club does not allow dogs on their land.
We started down the road and took the first turn off to the right toward trail 32 and Lower Wolfjaw. After about a mile of easy going the trail turns left at a junction and begins the climb up to the Wolf’s Chin. This climb is 2 miles up to a flat section, and has become an on going joke for Tyler and I. This section of the trail is relatively flat for about 1.5 miles, gaining the remaining elevation to the 4,175 foot summit. Every time we came to a short flat section for the rest of the day “this MUST be the Wolf’s chin!” It’s safe to say we did walk over the chin at some point, but we had no idea when.
The summit of Lower Wolfjaw is fully in the trees, with minimal views and no good places to sit. We stayed for a few minutes, ate a snack and continued onward.
The hike over to Upper Wolfjaw is roughly 1.5 miles and the trail is a good introduction to Adirondack scrambling. At the col (the lowpoint between the mountains) there is an intersection where you can go back down to the Ausable Road and a separate intersection where you can descend to the John’s Brook Valley on the opposite side of the range.
Heading up from the col towards UWJ you are now on trail 4, the ADK Range Trail. Some of the sections are quite steep and require creative climbing on roots, trees and rocks. We really enjoyed this section of the hike and were glad that we were not going down this section of the trail. After some good elevation gain the trail settles and rolls the last distance to the summit of Upper Wolfjaw.
Upper Wolfjaw has a small but nice bit of open rock that offers great views facing into the Ausable Valley and the Colvin range rising on the other side as well as a glimpse up the rest of the Great Range.
Moving off the summit of Upper Wolfjaw the trail a short mile over to the summit of Armstrong. The trail descends slightly then heads back up towards Armstrong. At points the trail is steep and there is a helpful ladder that gets you into the last section before the summit.
The summit of Armstrong offers a wonderful view of John’s Brook Valley and up the Great Range. You can see much of the Marcy Group and the MacIntyers in the distance.
After our lunch on the summit the clouds had started to turn menacing, so we continued to the next junction and made the decision for what to do next. The junction for this trail brought us a very tempting 0.6 miles from the summit of Gothics, but we had already had a great day and didn’t want to risk meeting the oncoming storm above 4,000 feet. So we chose to descend the range and return to the car.
Trail 34, is one of my favorite trails in the Ausable region. It has very unique character to it and many beautiful aspects. One key part of this trail that can be confusing at first is that in the first section of the trail there are several ladders you must go up to continue on the trail. Yes, you are still on the correct trail, descending to the AMR Road. After that section, the trail moves steadily down hill past some neat natural features and deposits you at the lovely Beaver Meadow Falls.
At this point you head back to the trail head, crossing a bridge over the Ausable River, and following the trail to a junction. You can either walk 0.5 miles back to the road and walk the 1.8 miles to the trailhead on the road OR you can follow a trail along the river roughly the same distance back to the AMR gate. For our hike, with our tired feet and the now impending storm, we opted for the road and a quick walk out as the rain began.