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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Giant Mountain via Ridge Trail(Adirondacks)

Headed up to the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks to hike 4627 foot Giant Mountain with Kalli today via the Ridge Trail.  Giant Mountain, the 12th highest peak in the Adirondacks is a very popular mountain due to its proximity to the highway, its great views and (somewhat)short trail mileage. Parking is located right off Route 73 just over 5 miles west off of the Northway.  Luckily, there were only four other cars at the trail head when we arrived.
 It was a comfortable day with a mix of clouds and sun as we began climbing through a hardwood forest.  The trail was extremely muddy and wet with three water crossings over fast flowing streams.
The climb is consistent and leads to a rock ledge with spectacular views after only half a mile.
The view from the rock ledge directly to the south at 3100 foot Round Mountain.
A glimpse of the Great Range just past Round Mountain's shoulder.
Beautiful Chapel Pond directly below.
After .7 miles we arrived at Giant's Washbowl.  The Washbowl is a 4.2 acre pond with primitive camping on the north end.
Dead trees crowd the wooden plank crossing over Giant Washbowl's waters.
After roughly one mile of hiking, we arrived at a trail junction.  To the right leads to Giant's Nubble and straight ahead continues steeply climbing up the Ridge Trail.
A typical rocky climb up through conifers.
 An incredible panorama from a rocky clearing.
Nice views with the Washbowl visible in the foreground.
 Only several yards off the trail is a clearing with a long rocky slab.  From here the views east towards Rocky Peak Ridge and towards Lake Champlain are very nice.
 Heading up through a steep, rocky opening is a view of a false summit, known as the Bump.
Blue skies and dark clouds were fighting it out as we continued our steady ascent.
There were many rocky sections such as this on the trail, most wet from run off and recent rains.  Footing was still pretty good for the most part.
After about 1.9 miles, you come to another trail junction.  To the right, the trail goes "over the bump", and to the left, the trail goes "around the bump".  Both trails are basically the same distance and meet back up a short distance later.  We went around the bump.
Looking back to the south from another rocky ledge.
 Climbing up through another muddy, rocky section of trail.
 The trail climbs at a persistant clip towards Giant's summit.
A little over 3 miles into the hike, we saw a sign indicating that we were entering an Alpine Zone.
After 3.2 miles and nearly 3050 feet of climbing, we arrived at Giant Mountain's 4627 foot summit area.
The views from Giant's summit are nothing short of spectacular. In all, 39 major peaks can be seen from here, ranging from Vermont's Green Mountains to the heart of the High Peaks.
Kalli soaking in the vista.
 Looking back towards the summit area with very strong winds blowing about.
 We enjoyed lunch and lingered at the summit for about a half hour before continuing on.  Heading back off the summit, a side trail continues east for 1.2 miles to 4420 foot Rocky Peak Ridge.  We decided to turn here and continue on this trail.  As the trail drops down the view north and east is amazing. 
The view south from a rocky ledge on the drop down off Giant.  Unfortunately, the trail became very wet and slippery as it descended steeper and steeper.  We opted to turn around before going much further, content with our ascent of one high peak for the day.
We took our time descending the mountain, only seeing a handful of other parties on the way down the muddy, wet slopes.  
The fast flowing stream crossing near the end of our return trip.
Hiked a total of 6.4 miles RT on very wet and muddy trails.  We were very happy with a fun day out in the woods.

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