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Giant Mountain Wilderness

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Giant Mountain Wilderness Locator Map

The 23,100-acre Giant Mountain Wilderness is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The wilderness is predominately mountain country containing two peaks above 4,000 feet elevation - it's namesake Giant Mountain and Rock Pocky Peak. Other natural features include Giant Washbowl, Giant's Nubble, Hopkins Mountain, and Roaring Brook Falls. It is adjacent to both the Dix Mountain Wilderness and the High Peaks Wilderness.

Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region provides general information regarding backcountry and seasonal conditions; specific notices regarding closures and conditions of trails, roads, bridges and other infrastructure; and links to weather, state land use regulations, low impact recreation and more.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

There are approximately 30 miles of marked, maintained trails within the largely mountainous Giant Mountain Wilderness.

View of Giant Mountain from the summit of Dix Mountain
View of Giant Mountain from Dix Mountain summit

Giant Mountain (4,627 ft.) - There are five trails that can be used to reach the summit of Giant Mountain. The summit is open rock which provides a 360 degree view of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain Valley. Hikers don't need to go to the summit of the mountains to enjoy a great hike with fantastic views of the surrounding area.

  • Ridge Trail/ Zander Scott Trail - The trail extends approximately 3 miles and ascends 3,050 feet from the Zander Scott Trailhead to the summit. Much of the trail is along an open rock ridge line which provides a scenic view of the surrounding area.
    • At the 0.7-mile mark is the scenic Giant Washbowl. A 1.0-mile side trail there connects with the Roaring Brook Trail.
    • At the 1.0-mile mark a 0.5-mile side trail to Giant Nubble, which provides great views of the slides on Giant and the surrounding area. The trail continues another half mile to join the Giant Washbowl trail and the Roaring Brook Trail 0.1 mile beyond that.
  • Roaring Brook Trail - The trail extends 3.4 miles and ascends 3,375 feet from the Roaring Brook Trailhead to the summit. The Roaring Brook Trail joins the Ridge Trail at the 2.9-mile mark, from there it is 0.5 mile to the summit.
  • The top of Roaring Brook Falls is located at the 0.5-mile mark.
  • A trail to Giant Nubble and Giant Washbowl is located at the 1.1-mile mark. The side trail splits approximately 0.1 mile in with one trail leading to Giant's Nubble and the other to Giant's Washbowl. Both trails connect to Ridge Trail.
  • Giant via Hopkins -The trail from the summit of Hopkins Mountain to the summit of Giant is Mountain extends 3.2 miles and ascends more than 1,600 feet. The trail joins the North Trail to Giant at the 1.7-mile mark, from there it is an additional 1.5 miles to the summit of Giant. The total length and ascent of the hike to Giant Mountain via Hopkins will depend on the approach taken to the summit of that mountain. See below for information on trails to the summit of Hopkins Mountain.
  • North Trail to Giant - The trail extends 7.6 miles and ascends 3,327 feet from the North Trail to Giant Trailhead to the summit. A 0.1-mile spur trail to Owl Head Lookout, which provides scenic views of the valley below Giant, is found at the 2.5-mile mark. The junction with the Hopkins Mountain Trail is located at the 6.1-mile mark.
  • East Trail to Giant - The trail extends approximately 8 miles and ascends 5,300 feet from the East Trail to Giant Trailhead to the summit. Blueberry Cobbles, a lookout point, is located the 1.9-mile mark. Bald Mountain is at the 3.9-mile mark; the remote and picturesque Marie Louis Pond is at the 6.1-mile mark and the high point of Rocky Peak Ridge at the 6.7-mile mark.

The numerous trails to the summit of Giant Mountain provide the opportunity to hike to the summit using one trail while returning by a different trail to a different trailhead. However, this will involve shuttling with multiple vehicles or coordinating trading vehicle keys with other hikers heading in the opposite direction on the trails.

Rocky Peak Ridge - The high point on Rocky Peak Ridge (4,420 ft.) can be reached directly from the East Trail to Giant Trailhead. See the description above. Like the summit of Giant Mountain, it is open rock with 360 degree views of the surrounding area. The 6.7-mile trail ascends 3,600 feet. The more popular route to the summit of Rock Peak Ridge is from the summit of Giant. The 3.0-mile round trip between the two summits includes more than 1,450 feet of ascent.

Hopkins Mountain - Four trails starting at three trailheads may be hiked to reach the top of Hopkins Mountain (3,184 ft.). The rocky summit which offers views of the surrounding area.

  • Mossy Cascade Trail - The trail extends 3.2 miles and ascends 2,120 feet from the Mossy Cascade Trailhead to the summit. Hikers will need to cross Crystal Brook at the start of the trail. The first mile of this trail is on private land. Stay on the trail and do not trespass onto the adjacent lands.
  • Ranney Trail - The trail extends 2.7 miles and ascends 2,140 feet from the trailhead to the summit. The trailhead is located at the end of a private lane that is accessed via a bridge over the East Branch Ausable River. Hikers can park at the Rooster Comb Trailhead Parking Area. The bridge is a short distance down the road opposite the parking area. The trail joins with the Mossy Cascade Trail at the 1.8-mile mark and follows that trail 1.9 miles to the summit.
  • Direct Trail and Spread Eagle Trail from Beede Farm - Both of these trails are accessed from the Baxter Mountain Trailhead at the end of Beede Road off State Route 73. The first 1.4 miles ascends 750 feet on private lanes through Beede Farm - Stagecoach Road and Phelps Brook Road. Public motor vehicle traffic is prohibited on these lanes but hikers are allowed to use this private road system to access the trails. The starting point of the two trails lie at the end of the Phelps Brook Road. Direct Trail, the trail on the left, extends 1.3 miles and ascends 1,150 feet to the summit of Hopkins Mountain for a total length of 2.7 miles and a total ascent of 1,900 feet. Spread Eagle Trail, the trail on the right, extends 1.5 miles and ascends 1,235 feet to the summit for a total length of 2.9 miles and a total ascent of 1,985 feet. The trail crosses the summit of Spread Eagle Mountain at the 0.7-mile mark.

Baxter Mountain Trail extends 1.1 miles and ascends 755 feet from the trailhead to the 2,428-foot summit of the mountain which offers views of the Great Range. The mountains is located on a parcel of land classified as Wild Forest adjacent to, but not part of, Giant Mountain Wilderness.

Camping

primitive camping
lean to

General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

All designated primitive tents sites, campsites and lean-tos are available on a first come - first served basis and cannot be reserved. Designated campsites are marked with a yellow "Camp Here" disc. Designated tent sites are for tents only. Tents or small campers can use designated campsites. There are no hook-ups for water or electricity at campsites.

Campers who desire more amenities may camp at the nearby Lincoln Pond Campground or Sharp Bridge Campground and take day trips into the Giant Mountain Wilderness.

There are 16 designated primitive tent sites. Designated tent sites are located:

  • Along Roaring Brook Fall Trail (8);
  • Near Giant Washbowl (3);
  • Near the juncture of the North Fork and South Fork Boquet River (2);
  • Along the Boquet River off Route 9N (1); and
  • Near Marie Louise Pond (1).

There is one lean-to on the North Trail to Giant at the 5.7-mile mark.

Rock & Ice Climbing

rock and ice climbing

General information on rock and ice climbing includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations

Rock and ice climbing are very popular activities, most climbing opportunities are found in the Route 73 corridor.

Spanky's Area can be accessed from the Noble Mountain Pull-off.

A number of climbing cliffs are found between Spanky's Area and the Washbowl Area. These can be accessed from the Round Pound Parking Area

The Washbowl Area - including Lower, Upper and Giant Washbowl (aka Washbowl Pond) Cliffs - and other nearby cliffs can be accessed from the Chapel Pond Parking Area or the Zander Scott Trailhead.

The Roaring Brook Falls rock and ice climbing routes are accessed from the Roaring Brook Falls Parking Area

There are no official trails to the climbing areas in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, but multiple herd paths have formed which should be used to prevent further damage to the area. All climbers should check guidebooks or other sources of information about climbing these cliffs. Inexperienced climbers should consider hiring a climbing guide.

The majority of the routes in this region are multi-pitched climbs that do not lend themselves to instructional groups. Rock climbing concentrates use to a very small area and often has disproportionate amount of physical impact at sites-please maintain respect for your surroundings and those that wish to enjoy them in the future.

Due to peregrine falcon nesting activity some climbing routes are closed during the nesting season. Learn more about peregrine falcons and Adirondack rock climbing.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

All waters within the Giant Mountain Wilderness are open to fishing. Anglers may use the same trailheads and trails as hikers and the same camp sites as campers to access and fish these waters.

The Giant Mountain Wilderness provides a number of fishing opportunities for brook trout and panfish.

Giant's Washbowl is the most popular fishing spot. The 4.2-acre pond has a maximum depth of 23 feet and is stocked with native brook trout. The pond is easily accessible via the Giant Ridge Trail (0.7 mile) or Roaring Brook Trail (2.2 miles).

Many small brooks within the wilderness contain native brook trout. Nearby waters are stocked by DEC such as the Bouquet River (brook trout and brown trout) to the southeast, the East Branch Ausable River to the west (brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout), and The Branch (brook trout) to the north.

A pamphlet is available with maps of state lands and public fishing rights that depicts the Public Access for Fishing the Boquet River (PDF 770 KB).

Adirondack/Lake Champlain Fishing provides information on fishing in the Adirondacks and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.

Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish; populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species have severely declined due to introduced fish.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

General information on hunting and general information on trapping include how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.

All the lands and waters within the Giant Mountain Wilderness are open to hunting and trapping. Hunters and trappers may use the parking areas, roads, seasonal access roads, trailheads, and trails used by hikers to access the lands and waters. Hunters can park on the shoulders of seasonal access roads provided vehicles are out of the travel lane.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing
snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

Wildlife

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

The Adirondacks contain large tracts of wildlife habitat with some boreal, bog, alpine and other unique habitats. Many birds (Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon) and mammals (Moose, Black Bear) are unique to the Adirondacks or are mainly found here. Over 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.

Peregrine falcons are known to nest in the area.

Directions

All coordinates are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

There are eight parking areas in the Giant Mountain Wilderness and three in the Dix Mountain Wilderness that provide access to the trails and other recreational opportunities.

Trailheads and Parking Areas Accessed from Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87)

  • East Trail to Giant Trailhead Parking Area is on Route 9, 6.8 miles north of Exit 30 on the left. (44.1499° N, 73.6268° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Boquet River Parking Area is on Route 73, 2.3 miles north of Exit 30, on the right. (44.1051° N, 73.6920° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Noble Mountain Pull-off is on Route 73, 4.6 miles north of Exit 30, on the right. (44.1165° N, 73.7043° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Round Pond Parking Area is along Route 73, 5.2 miles north of Exit 30. (43.1313° N, 73.7315° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Giant Mountain Trailhead Parking Area (aka Zander Scott Trailhead) is on Route 73 in the Town of Keene, 6.0 miles north of Exit 30, on the left or right. (44.1373, 73.7429° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Chapel Pond Parking Area is along Route 73, 6.2 miles north of Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87), on the left. (44.1404° N, 73.7479° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead Parking Area is on Route 73 in the Town of Keene, 7.4 miles north of Exit 30, on the right. (44.1509° N, 73.7687° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Mossy Cascade Trailhead Parking Area is a roadside parking area on Route 73 in the Town of Keene, 8.5 miles north of Exit 30, on the right before the bridge over the East Branch Ausable River. (44.1628° N, 73.7771° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Rooster Comb Trailhead Parking Area is on Route 73, 10.2 miles north of Exit 30, on the right. (44.1855° N, 73.7869° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Baxter Mountain Trailhead Roadside Parking is off Route 73, 11.1 miles north of Exit 30, turn right onto Beede Road, 1.0 mile to the end of the road near Baxter Mountain Trailhead. (44.2045° N, 73.7704° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Baxter Mountain Trailhead Parking is located along State Route 9N. (44.2205°N, 73.7498°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • North Trail to Giant Trailhead Parking Area is at the end of short dirt land on the south side of Route 9N, 4.4 miles west of the community of Elizabethtown. (44.2119° N, 73.6788° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Adirondacks to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts other backcountry users.

All users of the Giant Mountain Wilderness must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Giant Mountain Wilderness

DEC manages these lands in accordance with manage activities described in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

DEC Lands and Facilities

Gas may be obtained in the nearby communities of Keene and Elizabethtown.

Food and supplies may be obtained in the nearby communities of Keene Valley, Keene and Elizabethtown.

Dining is available in the nearby communities of Keene Valley, Keene and Elizabethtown.

Lodging is available in the nearby communities of Keene Valley, North Hudson, Keene, and Elizabethtown.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website) and Essex County/Lake Placid Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.