Giant: #12 4,627′
Rocky Peak Ridge: #20 4,420′
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
The 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 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!!!!
To Rocky Peak Ridge…
As you turn right from the junction you will get this view of Rocky Peak Ridge.
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.
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.