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Adirondack Hike: Big Slide

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Big Slide, Viewed from Upper Wolfjaw

Big Slide, Viewed from Upper Wolfjaw

The Basics

Date(s) of Hike: May 20, 2017 & May 29, 2020

Mountain Specifics: Big Slide Mountain, 4,240 feet (27th Highest Adirondack Peak)

Distance: 7.8 miles

Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes to the summit (7 hours, 10 minutes round trip)

All mileage calculated using the High Peaks Adirondack Trail Map

*Much of this recap and photos are from the most recent hike in 2020. I list the date in 2017 to keep my original 46’er order in tact.

Directions/Parking

To get to the trailhead, I took Route 73 West out of Lake Placid until the town of Keene Valley. Just before reaching Keene Valley, you pass Marcy Airfield. Once in town, it was a right turn onto Adirondacks Street and then up the road until you run into the Garden Lot.

For this hike, there are two options depending on your day of hike and arrival time. If it’s midweek, you might be able to get a spot at the Garden Parking lot (first video). If it’s the weekend, you’ll likely have to park at Marcy Airfield (second video) and take the shuttle ($5 each way) to the Garden lot. The Marcy Airfield video is from the hike we did to HaBaSa on a different date. Currently, with Covid issues in 2020, the shuttle is not operating.

Having been to this trailhead twice in the past few years, I realized that if you didn’t get in early, you might not get a spot. I drove up the night before and got most of the way there, then took a quick three hour nap at a rest stop in Tupper Lake. When the sun started making an appearance, I got up and made it to the Garden at around 6:15 a.m. and plenty of spots available.

Map to Big Slide

Map to Big Slide

After some prep and socializing with the ten other hikers in the lot, I was signed in and on trail by 6:30 in the morning. The trail for Big Slide via The Brothers is directly behind the sign-in book. If you were to do a loop and go via Johns Brook, you would continue straight ahead after signing in.

The first 10-15 minutes is moderate terrain in the woods. After that though, there’s some nice elevation as you head up the mountain (see below).

At the 35-minute mark, at the top of the elevation in the video above, there is a nice lookout ledge that lets you see out to the Great Range.

View of the Great Range

View of the Great Range

At the hour mark, and only about a mile in, I arrived at a second very nice lookout point.

It was another 17 minutes of moderate terrain until I finally came to the open shelf of the first brother, with a view to the second. According to reports, this point is about 1.5 miles into the hike. One thing you will realize after finishing one of the brothers, immediately after, you lose some elevation.


Top of First Brother Looking at Second

Top of First Brother Looking at Second

It’s only a quarter mile between the first and second brothers, so it goes pretty quickly. Plus, if you enjoy a good scramble, when you see the terrain, you get pretty excited. It wasn’t too technical on the climb, but you’ll still want to be careful in this section.

Atop the Second Brother Looking Back at the First

Atop the Second Brother Looking Back at the First

Another 45-50 minutes of hiking in the woods after the second brother, and you eventually come to the lookout at the third brother, which is slated at 2.5 miles into the hike. I arrived here at around 8:50 a.m., about 2 hours and 20 minutes into the hike.

About ten minutes after the third brother, the ice really started picking up (see below) and I took a second to slip on my microspikes. I use Unigear spikes and they were great. I was able to walk right down the middle of the trail the whole way and recommend having them to prevent erosion if you’re out during May like I often am.

My Microspikes

My Microspikes

The next 55 minutes wasn’t very steep, but it was constant ice as I headed up the 1.1 mile section. The trail is very easy to follow though.

Icy May Terrain After the Third Brother

Icy May Terrain After the Third Brother

At 9:45 a.m., I came to some signage. The first time I hiked Big Slide, I missed this sign on the way down and ended up going down to Johns Brook via a red trail. I made a note to be sure and go back the same way this time. It ends up saving about 50 minutes to backtrack versus doing it as a loop as the loop is 9.2 miles versus 7.8 as an in and out.

Signage Letting You Know You're Close

Signage Letting You Know You're Close

Map if Done as a Loop

Map if Done as a Loop

So I took the trail to the right and the elevation picks up before you eventually come to a pair of fun ladders. They’re even more fun with spikes on as you have to really take bigger steps to avoid tripping yourself.

Ladders to the Summit

Ladders to the Summit

After the ladders, you get a really fun look at the slide on Big Slide. I have some issues with heights and with all the ice, I decided to get a limited view of the length of it. The trail faked me out and looked like it was clearing up a bit, so I ditched my spikes and poles for the last little bit, before realizing there was still some more ice just before the summit. Rookie move.

The Slide from the Side

The Slide from the Side

The Slide from Afar

The Slide from Afar

At 10:14 a.m., I reached the summit and had it all to myself for the first ten minutes or so. I was eventually joined by a pair of hikers who were just beginning their 46’er journey and this was their fourth high peak. For me, it was my 49th, but third on the second round.

On my last hike, we encountered a cool pair of hikers (Dave and Paula) who liked to stage jumping photos. We joined in and I liked the look, so in their honor, I continued the tradition.

Summit Jump

Summit Jump

I left the summit at 10:45 a.m. and started down. I put the spikes back when I got back to them and they made the descent a breeze. The ice lasted for about and hour and a half and then I was able to remove the spikes and hike in normal shoe. I also decided to unzip the knee-down portion of my hiking pants since the temperature had risen to above eighty on the descent and I was approaching the exposed areas of the hike and wanted to stay cool.

Giant in the Background

Giant in the Background

At 12:30 p.m., I had arrived at the final brother and by 1:40 p.m., I was back at the sign-in book. I made a small stop at a little stream crossing about ten minutes from the parking lot to wash off some bug spray and salt since I was now pretty sweaty.

All-in-all, a very nice hike. Clear skies, some nice people, and I finally got to actually park at the Garden. Thanks for reading and best of luck if you choose this hike!