This trail crosses some of the most stunning terrain in the Adirondacks and reaches its height atop Mount Skylight the 4th highest peak in the region. Many great views of Marcy and several other High Peaks are gained from its summit though Marcy does block views to the North. Skylight offers up a long challenging hike as it is far from all trailheads. It can be climbed in a single day though for most hikers it is more realistic as an overnighter.
From the trailhead follow the blue trail markers to Marcy Dam. You?ll cross a short wooden bridge over Algonquin Brook at roughly km 0.5 after losing a bit of altitude. You start to climb as the trailheads to the junction with the Algonquin peak trail at km 1.6. You want to head left. From the junction it?s a pleasant stroll over rolling terrain with no real gain in altitude. You?ll reach Marcy Dam at km 3.7, after crossing over the dam the trailheads right. You?ll see the trail for Phelps and Marcy head left shortly after crossing the dam, this trail could also be used to reach Skylight, but you?d have to climb Marcy first. Your path lies to the right, the trail markers have changed to yellow. The next 1 ? km is easy and quite enjoyable as you follow Marcy Brook to Avalanche Camp. If you?re looking for the lean-to at Avalanche camp the old one in the clearing was removed, a new one was built off in the woods more or less straight in line with the bridge across Marcy Brook. At the far end of the clearing at the camp is a trail junction, you want to go right. You could take the trail to the left to Skylight, but the section of trail right before Feldspar lean-to is ?boggy? and after any prolonged rain is usually under a couple of feet of water (this has happened to me on several occasions) so I recommend avoiding this route. From the camp the trail starts the first real climb of the hike as it heads in an ?S-shape? up to Avalanche pass reaching it at roughly at km 6.7. Some impressive damage from a slide in 1999 is observed at the pass. From the pass the trail drops as you hike the 0.8 km to Avalanche Lake. The scene awaiting you as you emerge from the forest is one of the most stunning in the Adirondacks as the vertical cliffs of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain tower above the lake. The trail follows the western shore of Avalanche Lake and is quite rugged. When wet the trail can be quite treacherous so take care. At the far end of Avalanche Lake the trail crosses over the outlet and comes to a trail register and junction at km 8.4. To head to Skylight you?ll want to go left, 0.8 km further south you?ll come to the junction with the trail to Mount Colden, this time stay right. The next section of trail starts out with a bit of tricky footing before descending down and following Lake Colden eastern shoreline. At roughly km 9.6 the trail veers away from the lake and you?ll begin a slight climb, 200 m further on the trail comes to a junction with the trail to the Lake Colden Dam, you?ll want to turn left.
After another 200 m you cross the Opalescent Brook on a suspension bridge and head east; trail markers are now red. From here you begin a steady climb gaining 150 m in roughly 2.5 km. You?ll be following the beautiful Opalescent Brook most of your to the Uphill lean-to which is just off the trail to the left at km 12.6. About 100 m before the lean-to you may observe a rock cairn on the right, this indicates the trail to Cliff Mountain, and right near the lean-to you may observe a second rock cairn on the right, this indicates the trail to Redfield. From the lean-to you?ll lose a bit of altitude before having to cross Uphill Brook. At km 12.9 you?ll come to the junction with the Lake Arnold trail, you want to head towards the Four Corners, so go right. From here the trail climbs rather relentlessly, a good cardio work out; if you keep your head down and persevere you?ll reach Lake Tear of the Clouds at km 15 before you know it. From here you can see Marcy to your left and Skylight to your right. You?ll reach the Four Corners about ? km beyond the lake; from here your goal is close at hand. Within ? of an hour you?ll emerge from the trees and reach the broad summit of Skylight at km 16. If you have the energy you can return to Heart Lake by climbing over Marcy, this is the most direct route and will save you 2 km. If you return by the same route you can expect to take 12-13 hours and travel 32 km round trip. Even taking the more direct route by climbing over Marcy will mean a 28 km day. Unless you?re a strong hiker or don?t mind a very long day, this hike is probably best done as an overnighter.
Heart Lake trailhead
From the West take Route 73 East from Lake Placid for 5.5 km, turn right onto
Adirondack Loj road. Follow the road for 18.5 km to the gates of the AMC High Peaks Information Center. If traveling from the East take Interstate 87 to exit 31. Turn right onto Route 9N for 24 km. Turn right onto Route 73/Route 9N and follow for 3 km. At Keene continue to follow Route 73 for 17.5 km, turning left onto Adirondack Loj road. Trailhead is at the East end of the parking lot located closet to the visitors centre.
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