Rocky Peak Ridge: #20 4,420′
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).
The trail starts at a trail head on Route 9 near New Russia. Look for this sign:
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.
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.
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.