Adirondack Hike: The Dix Range
My hiking buddy Kory and I made plans to do the Dix Range on a Sunday in September. The Dix Range is on the Southeastern edge of the Adirondacks and is comprised of five mountains - Macomb, South Dix (Carson), Grace, Hough, and Dix.
In terms of elevation, Dix is the sixth highest of the forty-six high peaks at 4,857 feet. Macomb is 21st at 4,405 feet, Hough is 23rd at 4,400 feet, South Dix is 37th at 4060 feet, and Grace is 42nd at 4,012 feet.
A lot of hikers will do a short hike in to the Slide Brook Campsite and then hike in the next day in order to complete the range. We chose to do the whole hike in one day. The map below is from a group that did the overnight option and their times and distances.
The Dix Range Loop
We had both read about the small parking lot at Elk Lake Lodge. If you didn't get there early, then you had another two mile hike in from a lot further out. So we made plans to drive up the night before and stay over at a local motel (Blue Ridge) about twenty minutes away.
We were up at 5:30 a.m. and on the road by 6:00 a.m. We arrived at the further parking area to a sign that read the lot at the trailhead was full. We thought we'd drop one of us and the gear off and then come back to make the walk easier and drove by the sign.
We were rewarded to find five or six open spots in the main lot right at the trailhead. During our hike, we came across an unlucky hiker who believed the sign and made the trek in on foot to the trailhead.
We geared up and signed in and were on the trail at 6:45 a.m.
We signed in and made the hike towards Slide Brook. The path was pretty wide, two-lanes would be an accurate description. It was relatively flat and it took us about forty-five minutes to get to the bridge leading to where people were camping. Right after the bridge is the cairn that leads up to Macomb. We turned right and got onto the trail.
We met a guy as we walked at the Slide Brook firepit who looked like he was just rising, and he advised us that when we got to the Macomb Slide, to get to the right side as soon as possible as it was easier. We thanked him and headed up the trail.
The trip up to Macomb was a pretty moderate slope through the woods at first. We were in the woods for a little over forty-five minutes and arrived at the bottom of the Macomb Slide at around 8:18 a.m. There were two other groups on the slide with us and we marched to the front.
The slide was very wide with lots of loose stone and dirt. This was our first time navigating something like this, so we were pretty excited. We followed the advice we got earlier and went up and got right pretty quickly. We got to the top of the slide at 8:39 a.m.
The Macomb Slide
The Macomb Summit
Right after the slide, there were some pretty gnarly rocks and a couple of fun scrambles. From the top of the slide to the summit of Macomb only took us twenty-one more minutes as we made it there at 9 a.m. on the dot.
There was a couple that stayed over on the summit and then two more duos showed up shortly after we did. It's not a big summit, but it does afford nice views out towards Dix and Dial.
We ended up taking some pictures and grabbing a quick snack and were on the descent by 9:18 a.m.
South Dix (Carson)
South Dix is what I dubbed the tease hike. We made it down from Macomb on some gradual descent in twenty minutes. Then we started some open face scrambling. We got up the first, went through the woods, then came to a second scramble. Then more woods and a third scramble to the top. Most of the time after a quick scramble, we're at the top, so for there to be three in a row made it the tease of a hike.
We were able to do all three though relatively quick and made it to the summit of South Dix at 9:52 a.m.
South Dix Summit
As is our tradition, whenever we are in the woods for a summit shot, we do our crazy faces. So at South Dix, there is a tree marked with an 'X' that signifies the summit, so we took our shot there.
East Dix (Grace Peak)
Coming out of the summit of South Dix, there is a cairn marker to head over to Hough on the left. The trailhead to East Dix is on the right and down a light cliff. After dubbing South Dix the tease trail, I soon anointed the trail to Grace as stabby trail. It's a little over a mile of poking and prodding.
The trail was pretty tight and had a moderate descent for a while. Eventually it begins to rise again and ends up on a rocky plateau looking East where we found the high point on a big boulder. To the left there is actually a very nice lookout, but we didn't see it until later when we were on Hough.
From South Dix to East Dix only took us thirty-five minutes as we made it there at 10:31 a.m. It was our sixteenth high peak of the summer and we met about seven other hikers while we refreshed there until about 11 a.m.
To get to Hough, you have to hike back to South Dix, so we did that and made it to the cairn to Hough around 11:30 a.m.
The descent off of South Dix to the bottom of Hough is moderate, and we had been warned about the trail going up Hough. We joked that they might have called it huff instead because you're going to be huffing and puffing because of the steepness.
It's less than a mile in distance, but it reminded me of a section of trail at the top of Street and Nye just before their trails separate. It was steep and I felt like my right quad was ready to cramp up as we neared the top.
At the summit, we ran into a few groups and the viewing area isn't very wide, but does afford nice views to the south and west up to the Beckhorn. The summit is marked with a little tag in a tree.
We made it up there in a little over an hour, but that hour hurt so we made sure to hydrate and eat a piece of fruit or two. We were on the way to Dix around 12:45 p.m.
The Beckhorn and Dix Summit
The Beckhorn is the high tip you can see from Hough. The summit to Dix is only about a hundred feet past it, but it shields it until you're past it. The trail up is moderate until you get closer to the Beckhorn itself, then you have some pretty tight scrambles you have to negotiate.
With my legs being a little tight, we made sure to assist each other up to the top. We got to the top of the Beckhorn just before 2 p.m. and made the summit at Dix right at 2 p.m.
On the summit, there are a few survey markers, so we made sure to take photos at both of them. We also ran into a group from Utica there and had our last sandwiches before heading back to the Beckhorn where the trail for our descent began.
If you have hiked the Dix Range, which was your favorite peak of the five?
We started down around 2:15 p.m. and right away from the Beckhorn it was steep and rocky. It continued like this for the next hour and twenty minutes - consistently steep and brutal. It reminded me of the trails for Phelps or the long way down Big Slide.
We finally got to the sign pointing us back to Elk Lake and the 3.9 miles we had left around 3:40 p.m. At this point we were expecting flat ground, but instead there was some light elevation leading towards Lillian Brook. It took us about forty-five minutes to get to Lillian Brook and another twenty to Slide Brook, again with a second long, steady ascent.
Once back to Slide Brook, we knew it was forty-five minutes to the car and we made it there at around 5:30 p.m. So our total time on trail was ten hours and forty-five minutes.
My Preferred Pack for Single Day Hikes
Ranking the Peaks
These were our fourteenth through eighteenth high peaks and there were some cool parts to them. The Beckhorn was a nice challenge and the Macomb Slide was something totally new. All in all, it was a very enjoyable, yet long hike on a clear and warm day.
Here is my up to date ranking:
1.) Big Slide
8.) Rocky Ridge
11.) South Dix (Carson)
14.) East Dix (Grace)