Mount Colden and Mount Marshall

With autumnal weather finally arriving, I jumped on an opportunity for one more Adirondack hike. Keeping with this year’s theme, I carved out a plan to hike two new trails, alternative approaches to Mounts Colden and Marshall.

Leaving from the Adirondack Loj towards Lake Arnold, I hiked to Marcy Dam by headlamp, enjoying the crisp air and empty trails. Having previously hiked this path four times (going to Skylight & Gray, Cliff & Redfield, and Colden twice), I made good time all the way to the lake.

Junction to Indian Falls and Lake Arnold
Junction to Indian Falls and Lake Arnold

With the previous several days of rain, the trail above Lake Arnold was much wetter than this summer, but with all the recent bog bridges and ladders it was easy to avoid. I stopped briefly at the northern false summit for some close-up views of the MacIntyres and continued towards the top. Along the way I marveled at a new 50-step ladder built sometime in the last month!

Mount Colden’s summit is spectacular. From a ledge on the south side, it offers sweeping panoramas between the dominating Marcy and Algonquin. I checked in and enjoyed the cool breeze before continuing down the south side, the first new trail for me.

The trail from the summit to its namesake Lake Colden was steep but offered many stretches of slabs which I find more enjoyable than boulders. Near the end was lovely forest and towering waterfalls. Here again the recent rains made things wetter and uncovered a weakness in my shoes: Despite this being my fourth pair by the same company, I frustratingly slipped and slid all day on wet rocks and roots.

From the lake, I followed the trail to Flowed Lands until the intersection with Herbert Brook, which starts the 1.5-mile herd path to Mount Marshall. The brook is a continuum of beautiful, mossy cascades punctutated with tiny waterfalls and bare slides. The trail crisscrosses the brook for the first mile, which presented some difficulty from the recent rains; switchbacks which normally hop over a narrow flow of water were now several feet wide.

The trail was a muddy, sloppy mess which, absent the lovely brook it followed, reminded me of the much-maligned path to Cliff Mountain. Luckily, unlike Cliff, Mount Marshall has a lovely view near its summit offering a southern panorama from Mount Colden to the Santanonis. I was also glad that I planned to descend to Cold Brook Pass and take Indian Pass back to the Loj.

Panorama from atop Mount Marshall
Panorama from atop Mount Marshall

Just like the first time, the return from Marshall was beautiful and varied, and the Indian Pass trail is in terrific shape. I sped up for the final leg, pushed on by thoughts of ice cream and dinner.

Approximate stats: 18 miles; 4,500 vertical feet; 10.5 hours total (9.5 hours hiking time).