Located in the center of the Seward Range, Mount Donaldson is the thirty third highest of the 46 high peaks. As it is the middle peak, it boasts the best view of the Seward range of any of the other peaks. An open rock ledge at the summit gives you stunning views of Long Lake to the south.
Donaldson is the most climbed peak on this ridge. The herd paths used to ascend it are quite difficult and remote. Hiking Donaldson is long and difficult, so bring your A game!
Because they are along the same ridge, Donadlson is commonly climbed with Seward and Emmons. The three peaks together make for a very long, 18 mile day. It requires an early start, as the hike could take upwards of 12 hours.
The mountain is quite remote, however, the herd paths are well defined, despite the lack of foot traffic. The usual route to Donaldson follows the approach to Seward from the west.
There are two approaches to Donaldson and both involve trails that are on private land. The Upper Works trail, and the Duck Hole trail are located on private land, while the Ward Brook trail follows the border along private land (as signs will point out). Remember to keep dogs leashed, and refrain from off trail travel, hunting, fishing, camping, boating, or swimming while on private property. The Seward Range is also a popular hunting destination during the big game hunting season (the last Sunday in Oct. to the first sunday in Dec.) so if you hike during this time, make sure you’re wearing brightly colored clothing, and don’t be alarmed at the sound of gunshots, or if you see hunters.
The primary trailhead can be found by following Rt 86 out of Lake Placid toward Saranac Lake. At Lake Placid, take Rt 3 toward Tupper Lake to Coreys Rd (about 12.5 miles) and take a left. Follow Corey’s Rd for 5.5 miles. The trailhead is on the right.
The route travels along Calkins Brook and the first 1.2 mi is a well used trail. Take a right on an old woods trail. In 2 miles you will reach the Calkins Brook herd path, to the left. The herd path will cross over the brook and then take on a moderate grade and rise high above it. There are several crossings of side brooks. You will come to a ridge near the summit. From here turn right and ascend the remaining 200 ft to the summit. There is a large ledge just beyond the summit on the right, which provides good views to the north and west. The path continues about another mile to the top of Mount Emmons. The two peaks together are 11 miles round trip.