Groomed trail
Elevation Gain
750.00 ft (228.60 m)
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Warming hut
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Marcy Dam is a central destination of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area and a starting point for many challenging trails and treks. From South Meadows, this approximately 8-mile round-trip journey will take you across marshland and over small hills and valleys on a former maintenance road to the dam. It is a delightful route through thick evergreens and northern hardwoods that is typically well-traveled and imprinted with the tracks of previous skiers.

Like the route to Avalanche Lake, snowshoers should begin at the information center near the Adirondack Loj, where there is a 2.3-mile path from Heart Lake up the "miserable mile" to the dam. Skiers should start at South Meadows on Adirondack Loj Road, where there is a sign next to a small parking area. The first mile is a seasonally closed road, so it is very wide and flat. It passes several camping areas along with the trailhead to Mount Van Hoevenberg. Arrive at a divide in the road and some signage. Take the path to the right, which passes through a gate.

This trail will soon come to a registration box and an open marsh area. From here, the route will weave up and down an area with relatively small dips and rises. It intersects a woodsy path that leads back to the Adirondack Loj. The path continues for about 3 miles in the southerly direction as the route sweeps around hills and streambeds. There are a few bridges, which will take you over Pelkey and Phelps Brooks. You will eventually emerge on the eastern side of the Marcy Dam. A wonderful view stretches upstream to the flat rock faces of Algonquin and Wright Peaks. Downstream is a wooden footbridge over the Marcy Brook. Avalanche Mountain can be seen upstream in the distance peeking over the horizon. Return the way you came. To extend the adventure, the trail to Avalanche Lake is perhaps the best option on skis, but it will require skins. There are also several lean-tos along the Marcy Brook that are about a mile away.

The High Peaks Wilderness Area is the largest wilderness area in the Adirondacks, covering over 300 square miles. It stretches from North Elba, Keene, North Hudson, and Newcomb in Essex County to Harrietstown in Franklin County and Long Lake in Hamilton County. Bear canisters are required when camping, and fires are not allowed. Please practice Leave No Trace principles and carry out what you carry in.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee


Well-traveled and smooth trail.



Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

2,030.00 ft (618.74 m)

Highest point

2,360.00 ft (719.33 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Rental facilities
Big vistas

Trail type


Typically multi-day


Snowmobiles allowed




Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.