Great Range Mountains, Adirondacks High Peaks, New York, USA
Mountains (elevation in meters): Sawteeth (1265), Gothics (1443) via Pyramid (1387), Armstrong (1355), Upper Wolfjaw (1281), Lower Wolfjaw (1272)
Distance: 26 kilometers (click here for the map - pink dotted line)
Elevation gains: 1803 meters in total
Duration: 8 hours and 38 minutes moving time
Date: July 30, 2016
View from Armstrong
To get to the trailhead from Lake Placid, drive down NY-73E past Keene, and turn right on Ausable Club Rd to use St Huberts parking. Walk past the golf club to reach Lake road.
Lake road gate
It is a half-mile walk to the park gate at the beginning of Lake road. Sign the register and head down the private dirt road for about 5.5km, all the way to Ausable Lake.
Trailhead to Sawteeth
The trailhead is by the lake. As soon as you cross the bridge, you have the choice between the regular or the scenic trail.
We opted for the scenic route. Note to self: scenic means something different in the Adirondacks!!! I don't know what the “regular” trail is like, but in order to get the scenic part, you need to make your way to the “scene”.
This means maneuver through less traveled, remote, just by the lake trails as you hike your way up the side of the mountain (instead of using the well maintained properly planned and designed path).
Having that said, the scenic trail is rewarding you with a memorable landscape of Ausable Lake and the Colvin Range mountains in the background. The view is very beautiful as you climb the steep slope of Sawteeth.
The first peak is Sawteeth, and is like the Simpsons’ Mt Springfield - it just won't plateaued.
As soon as you think you are there, nope, that’s a false summit again… and again… and again!
After Sawteeth, we went for Gothics via Pyramid. To my surprise, we had to go quite a bit down and up again between each summit.
Next time, I will have a closer look at the map - I was expecting a nice and easy walk on the ridge for most of the route - what a mistake on my part! Mystery resolved: I wrongfully assumed that the contour lines were in feet… I forgot the part where we were using a custom made map, i.e. meters and kilometers.
We took a long break at the summit of Gothics, to have lunch and snap a breathtaking panorama of the mountain range... and bathed a little in the sunlight.
View from Gothics
Next, Armstrong. Down and up again, quite steep this time.
Actually, some part is short free climbing but it was fairly easily manageable since it isn’t too high and there is no exposure.
Be prepared to navigate up and down big slabs of rock at different degrees of steepness (from quite steep to vertical), but always for a short-ish distance or height.
The summit of Armstrong was almost deserted, especially when compared to the others. We didn’t linger there too long, since the view looks almost the same direction as Gothics, and we still had a long way to go.
Between Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw, there is a section that is so steep that park officials decided to install a big ladder… too bad it is missing a step.
And the steepness continues. There is one part of the trail that actually had us stop for a few second to think on how to tackle the climb down… but we both went our own way and it ended up just fine. Slow and easy…
At the summit of Upper Wolfjaw, we met some fellow Quebecers that were coming from the opposite way. We were secretly hoping that they would tell us the trail is nice and easy from there back to the road...
Unfortunately, it was just more of the same, and adding to that the lack of specific direction - signs with “trail” written and an arrow underneath. Good to know there is a trail, would be better to know where it’s going!
Despite a narrow gap between boulders, the trail to Lower Wolfjaw is just going down many more steep rocks and slopes…
While climbing the last peak, Lower Wolfjaw, we met a group of young girls (guides, or something like that) with a 25-ish years old guy that looked like the leader of the little group.
A word of advice regarding Lower Wolfjaw: Don’t do it if you are not after the 46ers…!!! It is a painful climb, especially when done at the end of the loop, and it has no rewards - the view at the summit is almost completely blocked.
Time to go all the way back down, and to the parking lot now.
For more picture, visit my gallery: Lower Great Range