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Adirondack High Peaks
Dix Mountain Wilderness
Dial Mountain at 4020 feet is the forty-first highest peak in the Adirondacks. Dial has been long considered as one of the classic hikes in the area. The hike is moderate with the occasional steep section. There are a number of things to look at while ascending and you'll get a great view at the end. It is a rather high ascent of well over 3000 feet plus it can be steep in places however the trail is in excellent condition and the steep sections are short and far between.
One of the nice points of this peak is the number of other peaks one can get to while still keeping it a day hike. Once your on top of Dial, one basically traverses a ridge to climb three other of the high peaks and with hardly any backtracking at all. This being said it is a long day hike and it is most likely better if you climb Colvin, Blake and Nippletop first, and then head down by way of Dial that way your descending home all the way. There are no views on Blake, however it is a 46er.
One part of the trail you cannot miss is the large fire that cut a swath across the flank Noonmark a few years ago. You really see the devastation that is caused by careless camping and there will be plenty of signs posted on the way telling you this. You'll get some sort of idea of the magnificent views that we would of had in the late 19th century when most of the surrounding area was clear-cut.
From Dial on can see an almost complete panorama of the Great Range with its peaks visible in a line across the entire northern horizon. You can see further up the ridge Nippletop and then Noonmark down below. To the south one gets a great view of the Dix Range with their many slides.
You'll pass a sign on the summit of Bear Den Mountain, which was usually missed by hikers on the way up or down. The normal route is to head in from the Ausable Club and either climb the peak directly or go up Nippletop and then descend to Dial and then out.
Nippletop at 4620 feet is lucky 13 in height and this peak offers perhaps one of the best views of any of the high peaks. Though not a bald summit by any means there is a small rock outcropping that overlooks Elk pass with an impressive view of Mt. Colvin and the rest of the great range. If you take a short walk (30 feet) past the summit and look to the south, your is treated to a spectacular close up view of Dix Mountain plus its great slides which have greatly expanded since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Though not a bald summit it is a very steep one and when looking down to Elk Pass below one gets the feeling that is it is much more than a few feet below. Unfortunately Mt. Colvin, across the way, looks small, as does Blake Peak. You do get a good impression of the great ridgeline they form.
Nippletop is known to be one of the wetter 46s, the Elk Pass Trail being a tramp though a vertical swamp and the Gill Brook Trail is normally quite muddy as well. The final section of the trail is just as steep as any good alpine climb gaining over 1000 feet in less than one mile where it meets the trail from Dial but from here it is another climb up and over the false summit into the saddle, then up again to the summit.
The other trail to the top over Bear Den and Dial is much dryer but is a longer uphill slog. However, your rewarded by the large opening caused by the fire on Noonmark in 1999. This is likely the best spot to photograph the great range, as almost all of the major peaks are visible.
Hikers or climbers approaching any of the peaks that branch off the Lake Road should be aware of the parking restrictions in the area. The designated hikersí parking lot is just off NY 73 opposite the parking lot for the Roaring Brook Trail. This spot is 3 mi. south of the High Peaks sign in Keen or 5.9 mi north of the junction of US 9 and NY 73. From here it is about 0.5 of a mile hike west along the gravel road and past the golf course to the start of the Lake Road and the trailhead.
There is room for only 30 cars and on busy weekends it does fill early and there is no parking allowed anywhere else in the area except at designated sites. We have also been asked to mention that dogs are absolutely PROHIBITED on AMR land. This is not a new rule, but one that has been enforced for over 100 years. Don't plan on taking your dog on this hike.
For more information on the Adirondack 46ers, get the book Exploring the 46 Adirondack High Peaks and for more info on hiking in the High Peaks Wilderness get the book Adirondack Trails High Peaks Region.
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