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New York, United States

Mt. Colden via the East Slide

A fun calf-burning climb up a newly formed slide in 1990. A great alternative to the popular traditional routes.

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 13.0 miles / 21 km
Duration: Full day
Overview: This is a very challenging climb up the 1990 Southeast slide on Mt. Colden. Mt. Colden is one of the most popular climbs in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks but this hike will take you up a route where you may not find anyone else. You will follow the usual trail to Lake Arnold but instead of heading up the trail you will continue down the trail from the Lake towards the base of the slide. You will have to negotiate a lot of debris (not a joke) by either scrambling through it/up it, or following the woods along the side of the slide. Once you get past the debris you'll be climbing up bare bedrock which will test the strength of your calf muscles! From the top you will have amazing views in all directions across the High Peaks and will then take a much easier and more gradual descent back down to Lake Arnold.

Tips: Heart Lake Adirondack Loj Trailhead:
From Exit 30 take Route 73 towards Lake Placid for 26.5 miles. Take a left onto Adirondack Loj Road and continue 5 miles to the Loj and the parking area. There is a $10 fee to park here for the day.

Points of Interest


Adirondack Loj at Heart Lake Parking

Parking here is $10 per day. Head on down the most traveled trail towards Marcy Dam after signing into the register

MacIntyre Trail Junction

The trail to your left heads off and up towards Algonquin. Ignore this trail and continue on.

Marcy Dam

There are a lot of campsites in this area if you'd like to make this a two day hike. Make sure to use bear canisters as black bears frequent the area. From here you want to head out on the trail towards Avalanche Pass which you will leave before you actually reach Avalanche Pass.

Trail to Lake Arnold

From here depart from the Avalanche Pass trail and head uphill towards Lake Arnold on the east side of Mt. Colden.

Indian Falls Trail

To your left a trail will head off up the hill towards Indian Falls. Ignore this trail for now but on the way back if you want to explore this route down to see a waterfall on the trail you can check it out. If you do go this way back to the car you will end up on the Phelps trail back towards Marcy Dam.

Lake Arnold

When you reach Lake Arnold you'll see the trail heading up Colden. This will be the trail you will descend Colden on. Ignore this trail for now and continue on around the lake. Soon you will be at the base of the slide.

Base of the East Slide

There are no real guidelines here to follow as you ascend the slide. At the base you will be scrambling over the debris that slid down the mountain in 1990. When I say debris I mean house size boulders and piles of trees. You'll be scrambling over this or through the trees around this following the slide for about a mile or so until you reach the scraped bedrock higher up on the mountain. From that point on your calves are going to scream as you ascend the slide. Near the top you will have to make your way through some thick brush for just a short ways until you are at the summit. My advice is to follow the side of the slide for safety and in the winter you will definitely need to have crampons, an ice axe and EXPERIENCE before attempting this. The pictures here are from my winter ascent of this slide. The one of the climber is onthe way to the slide debris at the base when he fell in a hole. The others are a progression of the climb. As you can see it is steep! I've added captions so you know what you are looking at.

Summit of Colden

At 4,715 feet you are at the summit of Mt. Colden with spectacular 360 degree views all around. Across Avalanche Lake is the McIntyre Range and behind is Mt. Marcy and the Great Range in the distance. Take some time to relax up at the top if it is a nice day and get plenty of pictures. Try to snap a few in order of the MacIntyre Range to make a cool panorama when you get home. From here you will be heading down the trail to the north that will bring you over a smaller false summit of Colden and then down to Lake Arnold where you will follow your same trail back.
Pictures in this guide taken by: JonathanEllinger, chan77, ershadz, msears101, AnArcticPuffin, spongebob

Jonathan Ellinger

Mt. Colden via the East Slide Trail Map

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About the Author

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Although I have climbed over 250 mountains from various places around the U.S. and have hiked in Europe...

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