11 routes · Trail Running
Adirondack Great Range Loop
An official circuit of the Adirondacks coveted by trail runners across the region.
Trail Running Severe
- 34 km
- 2.9 km
- 2.7 km
- 1 day +
- Low Point
- 312 m
- High Point
- 1.6 km
While a single-day run is within reach for an experienced trail runner, hikers often split the route into 2 or 3 days. In addition to countless spur trails leading to other official peaks, the extensive network of trail offers plenty of options to amend the circuit if you want fewer or more miles. In fact, fastestknowntime.com, states that if you were to ask 10 people what constitutes an official traverse, you will likely end up with 10 different answers. The site also notes some of the fastest documented runs in the 5 to 6-hour window.
As mapped, begin your run at the Roostercomb Trailhead along NY-73 in Keene Valley. If you have multiple vehicles, stage one at the ADK Garden Trailhead to avoid a couple of miles of road at the end of the route. Currently, there is no other way to connect the two trailheads, though runners may welcome the relaxing road run after spending the day on the trail.
Departing Roostercomb, a long boardwalk leads over a bog as it transitions into a dark, almost ominous forest. Rooster Comb Mountain is the first landmark of the day, with many choosing it as a destination for a shorter hike. Accessible via a spur trail, most hikers bound for the "Great Range" pass up the views, knowing they only get better along the ridge.
Ahead, the trail passes over Hedgehog Mountain, just short of 3,400'. From there, the path gets significantly harder as you traverse the ridge to the first official High Peak of the day—Lower Wolfjaw. Partial views tease you with what's to come, then a steep descent and climb to Upper Wolfjaw bags the next High Peak of the day. You'll find increasingly better views the further you get, with numerous chances to stop and catch your breath with a view.
Next, the route takes you over Armstrong Mountain before traversing to one of the true gems on this route—Gothics. From here, panoramic views start to unfurl as you gain a surreal view of the state's highest peaks. Soak in the landscape and snag some photos before continuing onto even rougher trail. Steep, exposed slope defines the opposing side of the mountain, and ropes are placed in intervals to assist with the most challenging portions. Mind your footing and take it slowly as you make your way into another notch.
Here, you will find the Orebed Brook Trail. While you would miss out on the remainder of the high peaks, this serves as the last major cut-off for runners and hikers. Should you be low on water or food, or notice the weather taking a downward turn, this will be your best escape route.
Continuing up the spine, Saddleback and Basin Mountain lie ahead, separated by one of the most challenging portions along the trail. Steep, jagged cliffs make up a portion of trail referred to as the "Saddleback Cliffs," and extra caution should be taken as you work your way to Basin. Its summit offers equally astonishing views as the last.
An incredibly steep descent into a dark col leaves you with a grueling climb to Haystack and Little Haystack. Their summits are acclaimed to have the best views in the Adirondacks, though the exposed rocky spine between them can prove a challenging traverse. Take in the views and relax before making the return trip along the Phelps Trail back to the trailhead.
Sources: https://fastestknowntime.com/route/adirondack-great-range-traverse-ny https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GreatRange https://www.lakeplacid.com/blog/2014/07/great-range-trail-adirondacks-most-sought-after-traverse