Number 11 on the list of 46 High Peaks, Mount Colden is among the most popular peaks in the High Peaks Region. It is known for its very distinctive Trap Dike, which runs up the center of the mountain. The dike, which drops off into Avalanche Lake, is considered one of the best slide climbs in the area.
This peak is less crowded than Marcy and Algonquin but you can expect to see a few dozen people if you visit on a weekend. The summit provides beautiful views of Algonquin and Marcy as well as amazing views down to Avalanche Lake. The trail to Avalanche Lake also boasts its own impressive views.
There are two maintained trails up to Mount Colden. Both can be reached from the Adirondack Loj trailhead. The first makes its approach from the northeast, passing by Lake Arnold and crossing over the false summit before reaching the true summit. The second approach comes from the southwest, beginning at Lake Colden. The trails can be combined to make a loop.
You can reach the Adirondack Loj trailhead by following Rte 73 out of Lake Placid toward Keene. Take a right (just after the ski jumps) on Adirondack Loj Rd. This road ends at the car park and hiker trailhead. There is a $10/day parking fee. Be sure to fill out a trip ticket at the trailhead. Without one you may be fined.
The primary route is 12 miles round trip. The hike begins on the trail leading to Marcy Dam. From Marcy Dam, take the well used trail toward Avalanche Camps. Take a left and begin your climb toward Lake Arnold. From here you will turn right and hike past the bond, and continue to climb, which will give you some breathtaking views. The terrain will become much steeper in sections, and views become considerably less grand as you reach the false summit. There is a slight descent followed by a very steep climb up to the true summit, which has some very rewarding views.
The secondary trail is nearly 15 miles round trip. From Marcy Dam again take the trail toward Avalanche Camps. Head toward Avalanche Pass instead of Lake Arnold. The following mile is called the “Misery Mile,” but don’t be discouraged by the name! It’s steep, but manageable. Pass through Avalanche Pass (where temperatures may drop considerably) and carry on past Avalanche Lake. The trail passing by the lake is quite demanding and is dotted with boulders, rock stairs and ladders. When you pass the lake, the trailhead becomes much more moderate and descends to a register at a junction. Take the left trail leading to Lake Colden, and then go left again and begin the very steep and strenuous climb to the summit of Mount Colden.
Whichever trail you take, the hike is quite challenging (though markedly more so on the secondary trail), however, the gorgeous views along the way and from the summit it make the climb well worth it.