Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York State, towers over the Adirondack region at 5,343 feet. The Van Hoevenberg Trail begins at the Adirondack Loj (near Heart Lake), and is a 15.4-mile hike to the summit and back. This is one of the most popular hikes in the region, and its 3,300-foot elevation gain offers a number of unique and spectacular viewpoints.
The Marcy Dam, rebuilt in the 1970s, is 2.1 miles from the trailhead and is a popular campsite for those wishing to extend their trip for multiple days. It is surrounded by Tail Mountain, Wright Peak, and Avalanche Mountain, among others. At about 5 miles in, hikers can enjoy the beauty of Indian Falls. Here the trees open up as a powerful stream rushes over a smooth rock face and flows into an incredible view of Algonquin Peak along the horizon. One mile before the summit, Marcy makes its full appearance. Wooden planks line the path, and the trail becomes exposed as it breaches the tree line. At the top there are magnificent 360-degree views of smooth rock faces, prolific hardwoods, and stunning valleys - some of the best that New York has to offer.
The Adirondack Mountains contain some of the oldest ridges in North America. Today they appear smooth and worn, reminding us of the glaciers from the north that once carved out the unmistakable domes and valleys throughout the region. Some evidence of this earlier time still lives at these alpine summits, where delicate Arctic ecosystems thrive in this chilling and windy environment.
The best time to climb Marcy is between April and October. Whether you prefer taking this path by foot, snowshoes, or skis, you’ll be delighted by this challenging staple of New York.