Jump to content

Adirondack Loj as basecamp for Adirondack High Peaks


Recommended Posts

Adirondack Mountain Club Loj/Algonquin Peak

"Its a great thing these days to leave civilization for awhile."  Bob Marshall

I recently took a trip to New York City for my Mom's funeral and to visit family, and had planned in time to take a couple of days to catch my breath and see some of my old haunts in the Adirondacks. Without my camping kit, as I considered my lodging options, I saw a familiar name, the Adirondack Mountain Lodge. Located just outside of downtown Lake Placid it sits centrally as a launching point to the eastern high peaks region of the Adirondacks. A pleasant call to the Lodge secured my mid week reservation for 2 nights. To my surprise, though the beginning of November, the weather forecast called for mild temperatures in the 60's for my stay, though just 3 weeks earlier it had already snowed and had dipped to 18F.

For my hike I chose Algonquin Peak, the second highest in the Adirondacks. Trailgroove has an excellent article on this ascent in summer. After discussions over dinner the night before on the relative merits of hiking Algonquin versus the tallest peak Mt Marcy (by only several hundred feet) I chose Algonquin as the net hike was 8 miles versus 14, and because everyone I spoke with said the 360 degree views from Algonquin's summit were superior.  For those wishing to tack on additional miles to this hike, this can be easily accomplished by side excursion to Wright peak which is a spur off the trail as you ascend, or nearby Iroquois which can be added after reaching the summit. I felt extremely lucky to be able to scramble up this rocky and water dripping trail in early November in a major El Nino year when normally the upper portions could easily have been covered in snow and ice. Several local hikers I encountered on the trail said they could not recall it being this warm late in the fall.

NYC 20153817cc110815.jpg

Panoramic view from Algonquin's summit

The hike of Algonquin begins in a hardwood forest then ascends into the spruce/fir zone, followed by the extremely dense conifer Krummholtz zone, then finishing in true open and fragile alpine habitat above 4800 feet. While I missed the fall colors of the lowland hardwood forest by several weeks, I greatly enjoyed the enhanced prominence of the white birch bark and mountain ash berries. Though prepared for the main 3000 feet elevation gain in 3 miles, I had forgotten the trail difficulty in the Adirondacks caused by historic hiker-created erosion of the very thin soil sitting atop a granite base. The trail was in fact more of a sustained scramble up a stream bed than a hike. At one point in the hike the trail becomes a single slab of granite extending several hundred feet, perched at a near 45 degree angle. Having reached the summit I found myself lingering both for the beautiful views of Lake Placed and the ski jump facility, but also because I knew well the difficulty that the descent would provide. Following that descent that gave me a few face-plant close calls,  I was very glad to return to the comfort of the Loj.

The Loj (correct spelling) is part of the Adirondack Mountain Club (http://www.adk.org/), founded in 1922, which boasts  a 30,000 membership, and has the dual mission of protecting natural resources and promoting responsible recreation of the "muscle powered" type. The story behind the Loj's name comes from a former owner, the Dewey of Dewey Decimal fame, who believed in phonetic spelling. The immediate Loj complex includes the Loj itself (which has a combination of private rooms, bunkrooms, and a 12 person loft), a High Peaks  Visitor Center with store, snowshoe and cross country trails, a campground, several cabins and lean-tos that are all available to the general public, and Heart Lake where swimming and kayak rentals are possible. Overnight prices (which include a fantastic hearty  breakfast served at 7:15 am) varies greatly between these options, $169 for private room, $70 for a bunkroom bed, and $60 for the loft. All Loj beds have linen provided. In addition, the Loj will prepare substantial packable lunches for $9.50, and a fantastic dinner served at 6:15 pm for $19 (that must be reserved by 11 am) where beer or wine can also be purchased at an additional cost. Consumption of personal alcoholic beverage in public spaces of the Loj is not allowed. Vegetarian needs appeared to be well accommodated.

NYC 20153763a110815.jpg

Community area

add 20153850h110815.jpg

Entrance to Loj

 As a traveler with only a couple of days to spend, I found the combined convenience of taking all meals at the Loj, the immediate trail access to several local peaks (Mt Joe, Mt Marcy and Algonquin), the history and rustic decor coupled with the interesting mix of residents at meals (all who were either hikers or volunteers) made for a fantastic stay.

NYC 20153844b110815.jpg

Dining Room where volunteers working on Loj pillow covers

Best Time to Go

The Adirondacks are an outdoor paradise absent perhaps one period of time, late spring and early summer when the black fly and mosquitoes rule the air. Fall is probably the most popular season due to lowland fall colors, though winter is a delight due to the adjacent cross country ski trails of Mt van Hoevenberg, winter climbing and opportunities to visit former Olympic winter sports sites such as bobsled, luge and ski jumping. For fall or early spring visits, be prepared for alpine summit weather to be somewhat unpredictable and potentially hazardous.

Getting There

The Loj is approximately 5 hours from NYC airports, and 2.5 hours from Albany, NY. From both destinations take NY 87 to Hwy 73 towards Lake Placid, then a left onto Adirondack Loj Rd to the end. Boston is also about 5 hours distant. If the Loj is booked, there are many hotels in the town of Lake Placed that is just 6 miles from the Loj's trailheads.


The Adirondack Mountain just recently published a new topographic map of the Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks (http://www.adk.org/product.php?pid=2294&pname=Trails%20of%20the%20Adirondack%20High%20Peaks%20Map).


Hikers on neighboring Iroquois summit



Edited by JimG
move pictures
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...