Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, and Gothics Loop

A challenging hike showcasing some of the best views on the Great Range.

Hiking Severe

Distance
22 km
Ascent
1.2 km
Descent
1.2 km
Duration
6-7 hrs
Low Point
463 m
High Point
1.4 km
Gradient
23˚
VIEW ON MAP
Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, and Gothics Loop Map

Description

The Adirondack Great Range is one the most highly sought after hiking trails in New York. Nearly 12 miles long, the Adirondack Great Range showcases seven of New York's finest peaks, offering endless views in its wake. While a proper Great Range traverse is often reserved for the most adventurous, this route brings some of its best peaks within reach of a day hike.

This route resembles a lollipop, with the loop at the best completed clockwise. To begin your hike, park at the ADK trailhead, just a short drive from Keene Valley. The Phelps Trail provides a gradual climb paralleling John's Brook as it heads upstream towards its headwaters. As you near the Ranger's Station, use the Southside Trail to access Wolf Jaw Trail.

Begin the steady climb to the col between Lower Wolfjaw and Upper Wolf Jaw Mountains. At the top, keep right to begin the portion of the hike along the Great Range. A steep, relentless climb makes for a punishing final ascent to Upper Wolfjaw. The first of the three High Peaks on this route, some partial views reward you for your efforts thus far. Another challenging climb lies ahead, then the summit of Armstrong Mountain. Here, the views begin to broaden atop the 4,330' peak.

The final High Peak along this route is by far the best. Nearing 4,700', Gothics sits as a prominent point along the ridge, offering incredible views of the Adirondacks, including some of New York's highest peak, Mount Marcy.

At the col between Gothics and Saddleback Mountain, follow the Orebed Brook Trail downhill as it parallels a quiet brook that quickly transforms into a fast-moving stream, draining into John's Brook. The descent is quite challenging, often utilizing ladders and stairs on its descent down a sheer rock face.

As you reach the end of the trail, retrace your steps down Phelps Trail to the trailhead where you began. For some post-hike grub, a local diner in Keene Valley serves as a popular hub for both hikers and travelers alike.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GreatRange

Difficulty

Severe

Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area