Category Archives: Eastern High Peaks

Rocky Peak Ridge from Rt. 9

The long ridge of Rocky Peak Ridge stretching down to Rt. 9 on the right side.

The long ridge of Rocky Peak Ridge (RPR) stretching down to Rt. 9 on the right side.

Rocky Peak Ridge: #20   4,420′

East Trail to Rocky Peak Ridge

East Trail to Rocky Peak Ridge (RPR)

The ascent of Rocky Peak Ridge (RPR) from Rt. 9 is a strenuous climb with a terrific pay off. The total ascent amounts to 5,128′ (more than the ascent of Mt. Marcy from the ADK LOJ). The total mileage is about 13.5 miles. The trail rolls over several lesser peaks along the way, descending into cols between high points and meandering over many expanses of open rock with amazing views. The trail goes over Blueberry Cobbles, Mason Mountain, Bald Peak, and Rocky Peak on it’s way to the summit of Rocky Peak Ridge. (Yes, Rocky Peak and Rocky Peak Ridge are two separate and distinct parts of the same mountain, the summit of this high peak is called Rocky Peak Ridge).

Artistic rendering of the East Trail to RPR

Artistic rendering of the East Trail to RPR

The trail starts at a trail head on Route 9 near New Russia. Look for this sign:

Trail sign at the parking area on Rt. 9 near New Russia

Trail sign at the parking area on Rt. 9 near New Russia

The trail begins with a nice walk through the woods and gradually gains elevation. After two miles on this pleasant trail you come to Blueberry Cobbles at 2,080′. There is an alternate route that bypasses the summit of Blueberry Cobbles, saving some elevation gain and rejoining the trail on the other side. This bypass is only slightly shorter. Just before this split there is a nice view point.

Continuing on the trail climbs up and over Mason Mt with first hints of rock sections and breathtaking views. After a short decent into a col, the climb starts to get a bit more strenuous. At 4 miles from the trail head, Bald Peak is 3,060′ tall. This is where the open rock sections start in earnest. There’s a really big rock up there that’s fun for bouldering. This section is a walk along an open ridge with breathtaking views; which have the potential to be disheartening as you can see your next challenge (Rocky Peak) looming ahead. Bald Peak on it’s own would be a lovely destination for a hike.

Ty and me on trail enjoying the view

Ty and me on trail enjoying the view

Tiera pointing to our next destination, Rocky Peak

Tiera on Bald Peak pointing to our next destination, Rocky Peak

Tiera and Tyler at one of the many steep sections of the trail

Tiera and Tyler at one of the many steep sections of the trail

Once up the challenging side of Rocky Peak, at 4,060′, there is a fantastic view point where you can see in all directions. From there the trail dips into the col between Rocky Peak and Rocky Peak Ridge where the trail encounters the tranquil Mary Louise Pond. The pond has a unique beauty nestled between the peaks. Moving around the pond and up is the final half mile push to the summit of RPR.

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Mary Louise Pond at 6.1 miles into the hike, in the col between Rocky Peak and RPR.

Looking back at Mary Louise Pond, Rocky Peak, and Bald Peak from the side of RPR.

Looking back at Mary Louise Pond, Rocky Peak, and Bald Peak from the side of RPR.

Once on the rocky top of RPR continue until you find the massive cairn marking the summit. There is an closeup view of neighboring Giant and it’s slides, and amazing views of the Dix Range, Colvin Range, and Great Range. On a clear day you can also see the Marcy group and the MacIntyres. Enjoy the beautiful summit but be prepared for a windy and cold stay up there.

There are two trail options from the summit of RPR, the long trail back to Rt. 9 or the trail to Giant. (See the description of that trail here) Either way, the trail from the summit requires more elevation gain and several miles, so be prepared with lots of water and snacks! See the final picture of this post for a view with some of the mountains labeled.

Tyler, Tiera and I at the summit cairn on RPR

Tyler, Tiera and I at the summit cairn on RPR

Tiera and her hula-hoop, continuing the awesome tradition of hula hooping in epic places (With Giant to the right and

Tiera and her hula-hoop, continuing the awesome tradition of hula hooping in epic places                                                   (with Giant to the right and a fantastic view of the Great Range behind her)

Happy hiker summit shot with

Happy hiker summit shot with Dix behind me in red, Dial in pink, Allen in white, Haystack in orange, Marcy in yellow, Colden in green, Algonquin in blue, and Wright in purple.

Happy hiking!

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Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge via The Ridge Trail (Zander Scott Trail)

Giant (in yellow) and Rocky Peak Ridge (in red) as seen from Gothics.

Giant (in yellow) and Rocky Peak Ridge (in red) as seen from Gothics.

Giant: #12  4,627′
Rocky Peak Ridge: #20   4,420′

Ridge Trail to Giant in yellow, trail to RPR in pink.

Ridge Trail to Giant in yellow, trail to RPR in pink.

Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge are fantastic mountains with amazing views. As they are the furthest east of the 46 High Peaks you get views of most of the other 46, as well as into Vermont on a clear day. From these peaks you will have a birds-eye view of the Dix Range, the Colvin Range, and the Lower Great Range.

There are several ways to climb these peaks. For those working on the 46 it makes sense to do both peaks in one hike.  A 1.8 mile trail connects the summits. For other hikers, either one of the peaks provides a nice day hike. Rocky Peak Ridge can be hiked on the longer, more challenging but beautiful trail from Rt. 9 (which I will post a trip report on soon).

For this hike, up the Ridge Trail, the starting point is the Giant trail head near Chapel Pond on Rt. 73. Look for these signs.

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Ashley giving the sign a hug!

Ashley giving the sign a hug!

 

Know Before You Go…

On my first hike up Giant I made a few rookie mistakes. It was only my 5th High Peak and my first time being my own guide. Here are some tips that might help you avoid some of those mistakes.

– Read over the Trail Guide Book carefully before you go.

– If you want to be a 46-R, unless you have specific plans to hike Rocky Peak Ridge from the other side you should just do it from Giant. Otherwise you will have to hike all the way back up Giant to do RPR. If you do plan to tackle it from Rt. 9, be aware that it is more elevation gain than climbing Mt. Marcy, and almost the same mileage.

– Be sure to look at the map and not just go by the book and the signs. There are several names for this trail, Trail 48, The Ridge Trail and The Zander Scott Trail. They are the same thing. The Roaring Brook Trail, however, is a different route up Giant.

– Also note, as is painfully obvious on the map, that the Giant’s Nubble view-point is NOT on the way to the summit via the Ridge Trail, it is a side trip a mile in the wrong direction… Oh yes, yes I did, and it added two miles to the hike.

Although the Nub provides great views of the area, it is a completely unnecessary side trip. It will not only add two miles and about an hour and a half to your trip, it will also add elevation and sap your energy. The second half of the Ridge Trail hike is essentially one massive view-point. You really can do without the extra side trip to the Nub.

Anyways…

– If you are doing this hike early in the season be prepared for a lot of water. The trail literally becomes a beautiful mountain stream with fast, deep, cold water that you must cross several times. If you are unprepared for this you are likely to have wet feet for the rest of the day, which really wasn’t so bad. I actually thought crossing and recrossing the stream was awesome.

Patti crossing the stream the for the first of many times in Mid May.

Patti crossing the stream the for the first of many times in Mid May.


The Trail

The first 0.7 miles up to the Giant’s Washbowl is a moderate climb of switchbacks and some more gradual grades. The hike starts to gain elevation right at the start. When you are almost to the Washbowl you will come to a flat section; here there is a lovely view-point that always manages to surprise me. You do gain quite a bit of elevation in that first section, and this view-point is a nice reward.

A quick walk further down the trail is the Washbowl, basically a mountain pond. A wooden bridge forms an easy walkway across the Washbowl.

Trail sign at the Washbowl. Yes it says Nubble 0.8, Giant via Ridge Trail 2.2 BUT DO NOT BE FOOLED, the Nub is NOT on the way to the summit!

Trail sign at the Washbowl. Yes it says Nubble 0.8, Giant via Ridge Trail 2.2 BUT DO NOT BE FOOLED, the Nub is NOT on the way to the summit!

Me crossing the Washbowl.

Me crossing the Washbowl.

Just past the Washbowl on the right is a really nice camping spot, that one day I want to make use of. The trail now continues at a gradual to moderate grade for 0.3 miles to a junction with the trail to the Nub. Stay to the R to get to Giant.

Now the trail starts to get steep, with lots of rocks. There are a bunch of switchbacks that help ease the climb along the way. But don’t be discouraged! Once you are past the switchbacks the trail begins to open up to a series of open rock areas with breath-taking views!

Ashley posing for dramatic affect. Our "short cut" to the Nub made the rest of the climb seem that much harder.

Ashley posing for dramatic effect. Our “short cut” to the Nub made the rest of the climb seem that much harder.

As the trail climbs higher it breaks out into many sections of open rock that are clearly marked with arrows and paint flares.

As the trail climbs higher it breaks out into many sections of open rock that are clearly marked with arrows and paint flares.

A great view of the Washbowl and Round Mountain from further up the trail.

A great view of the Washbowl and Round Mountain from further up the trail.

On those open rock areas be sure to pay attention to the yellow paint flares and various cairns that mark the correct path up. It’s easy to get distracted by the view!

These cairns (rock piles) aid hikers in staying on the right path up wide expanses of open rock when there is snow on the trail or poor visibility.

These cairns (rock piles) aid hikers in staying on the right path up wide expanses of open rock, especially when there is snow on the trail or poor visibility.

At the top of a long open rock face there is a junction with a sign that always makes me chuckle. The trail splits into two sections for about 100 yards and then reunites. Either way is fine, over the bump provides a view-point and is a little bit longer than going around. This is the sign:

IMG_0779The trail continues in and out the woods and over rock areas to another junction. You are now about 2.4 miles from the start of the trail. Here the trail meets up with an alternate trail from Rt. 73 called the Roaring Brook Trail (trail 47). Keep going! You’ve got about 0.6 miles until the final junction.

After more climbing, at the top of a rock face you will see the sign telling you that Giant’s true summit is only 0.1 miles away! If you are headed there, the hard work is done, it’s an easy walk over to the view-point. If you are headed to RPR, get ready for some serious descending.

The junction of the Ridge Trail up Giant with the Rocky Peak Ridge trail.

The junction of the Ridge Trail up Giant with the Rocky Peak Ridge trail.

To Giant…

The final 0.1 miles is a very easy walk over to the true summit with great views to the west and northwest. Want to know exactly what peaks you are looking at? Check out this AMAZING webpage that labels each High Peak view from each summit. CHECK IT OUT HERE!!!!

Ashley and I on Giant's chilly summit.

Ashley and I on Giant’s chilly summit in 2013.

Patti enjoying a summit nap with a stunning view of the Dix Range.

Patti enjoying a summit nap with a stunning view of the Dix Range, and side view of the Colvin Range. This is from May 2014

Summit victory shot!

Summit victory shot on an incredibly clear day!


To Rocky Peak Ridge…

As you turn right from the junction you will get this view of Rocky Peak Ridge.

Ashley in the first steps toward RPR from the junction.

Ashley in the first steps toward RPR from the junction.

Don’t be intimidated by how far away it seems. I have found while hiking that “objects are closer than they appear.” But I will be honest, the trail down the backside of Giant is ROUGH. With many short steep parts. You will lose about 800 feet of elevation very quickly. The return trip up Giant is FIERCE for a beginner. Give yourself time for this climb and ample water.

Once you reach the col (low point of the ridge between two mountains) you will encounter a very pleasant trail up to Rocky Peak Ridge. With minor steep parts as you reach the summit, gaining a total of about 600 feet from the col.

Col between the mountains.

Col between the mountains.

The summit of Rocky Peak Ridge is lovely. It offers a spectacular up close view of Giant and of the neighboring Dix Range. Rocky Peak Ridge itself is a beautiful mountain with a long ambling spine that hosts an alternate trail up to the summit from Rt. 9.

Giant, as seen from RPR.

Giant, as seen from RPR.

Cairn marking RPR's summit.

Cairn marking RPR’s summit.

Ashley and I on RPR's summit.

Ashley and I on RPR’s summit.

View down the other side of Rocky Peak Ridge towards Rt. 9.

View down the other side of Rocky Peak Ridge towards Rt. 9.

Happy hiking!