Hiking Mt. Algonquin

I spent the weekend in New York State and decided to drive up into the Adirondacks. I went to Lake Placid, where I spent the night, and then, last Sunday, I hiked Mt. Algonquin, the second highest peak in New York (5114 feet). The highest is Mt. Marcy (5344 feet).

Here is my route (click to enlarge):

After a hike seemingly straight up the mountain:

Norbert Haupt – on top of Mt. Algonquin

Here I am on the top. The girl that took my picture cut off my feet and put in lots of sky space above me. This is cropped as well as I could.

The white speck on the very left side of the image, next to my right elbow, is the 1980 Olympic arena in Lake Placid – remember Eric Heiden?

Speaking of Heiden, after winning 5 Gold Medals in Lake Placid, he went on to becoming a world-class bicyle racer, competing in the Tour de France in 1986. In 1989 he became a medical doctor, and today he practices as a renowned orthopedic surgeon. But I digress.

(click to enlarge) Here is a snapshot of Algonquin from the road below.


(click to enlarge) The trail was extremely steep, rocky and often wet. This was definitely class 4 hiking (need arms). The picture shows a section of trail looking down. It  does not look so scary in the picture, since the camera is pointed down, making it appear not as steep as it was.

I was constantly panicked about twisting my ankle or breaking a leg. I once sprained my ankle at home and I could barely make it from the bed to the bathroom. How was I going to get down a mountain on a trail over 3 miles long with such an injury? But with my bad knees, I had no choice but to pick my way down slowly, with countless other hikers, young French-Canadian teenagers to old guys like me, passing me.

Every time I am on a mountain and my knees hurt excruciatingly going down, I wonder why I don’t pick up another sport, like paragliding or sailing, that is not as painful.

Interestingly, an elevation of 5000 feet is where most hikes in California or Colorado begin. In New York, a mountain of 5000 feet (there are only two) is a Mountain with a capital “M”. This was one of the hardest hikes I have done in years, and as I write this, my legs, knees and feet still hurt.

On the way back I noticed the ski jump structures. These things are huge. Here is a quick picture from the road.

Finally, if you want to know much, much more about hiking the High Peaks in the Adirondacks, the Friar is doing a much better job than I.

6 thoughts on “Hiking Mt. Algonquin

  1. norberthaupt

    A friend of Devin’s looked at the picture of me on top of the mountain and said I looked like I would make a good grilled cheese sandwich.

    Go figure.

  2. Pingback: Hiking in the Adirondacks « New York Outdoors Blog

  3. Pingback: Hiking in the Adirondacks « New York Outdoors Blog

  4. Friar

    Thanks for the link love!

    I’m hardly what you’d call an expert hiker/mountaineer. I just go to Lake Placid once or twice a year, and by default, over the years, I’ve accumulated a number of hikes.

    Algonquin is steep. They ALL are. I haven’t hiked Colorado, but I’ve hiked Alberta and BC. And while those mountains are much much higher, the hiking trails are EASIER!

    At least out West, they switch-back across the mountains. The Adirondacks are brutal! The damn things go STRAIGHT UP!

    Still, it’s a pretty good dose of mountains, for East of the Mississippi.

  5. norberthaupt

    Yes, Friar, I agree with you.

    I am mostly a California hiker. These are the highest mountains in the lower 48, and they pose their own challenges, mostly based on altitude, distance, heat and sun. But Algonquin was a bear on the bones, the feet and the knees. That’s why I called it class 4. I’ll do Marcy next summer.

    I loved the bear, by the way.

  6. Friar


    Yeah, I like to bring the Bear along my hikes…it’s a tradition going back 15 years.

    Of course, you’ll have to do Marcy at least ONCE (because it’s the highest).

    But it’s somewhat of a disappointing hike. It’s about 4.5 hours one way (and the first four hours is in the trees). Algonquin is a much better hike.

    I also recommend Cascade, Giant, Big Slide, and the Gothics (if you’re not afraid of heights).

    For lower peaks (less than 4000 ft), Ampersand and Hurricane are really good, with open summits and a 360 degree view).

    It’s all good…they’re all in the same area.

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