Rooster Comb is another popular Keene Valley area day hike that I have somehow managed to skip over the years. Its trail head is extremely accessible, sitting right on Rt. 73 not far from the Noonmark Diner and The Mountaineer, and its mileage is perfect for a half day hike. Heck, it is one of those summits I probably could have hit up on my way back to the Northway after a longer adventure. Yet I never managed to.
This past Sunday, with a few hours to kill, I decided to finally check it out.
Starting out at the trail head the temperature felt warmer than the 29 degrees that was reported, largely due to the lack of wind I am sure. However, the water found along the start of the trail reminded me that it was indeed dipping below freezing.
After signing into the registration box, the trail follows a nature walk for a short time and skirts along the shore of a beaver pond. Soon after it dips into the forest where some very nice trail work can be found… including elaborate stone steps and a switch back or two. Hiking this area while the trees are bare is always a nice experience as you get to see parts of the landscape that would otherwise be hidden by foliage.
The first half of the trail, for example, is peppered with some unique boulders and walls. I found this one particularly interesting.
About mid-hike I began to run into some snow on the ground, but nothing particularly heavy. Further on, after a nice traverse under a rock face, a junction is found. To the right, an overlook of Keene Valley can be found for only an additional .1 miles of walking. The view is worth it, and I suspect on more crowded days this may be the quieter way to spend your time up here.
The actual summit of Rooster Comb is .3 miles in the other direction (left) at that junction. Before reaching the top I ran into a little bit of ice on a ladder that trail crews built to help on a steep section. Another pair of hikers were gingerly coming down it, but this represented the only troublesome ice on the trail this day.
A nice bare area on the summit provides a place to take in the views. Including this one of Giant Mountain…
… and this spectacular view of Lower Wolfjaw (left) and Mt. Marcy (in the distance, about mid photo).
Elevation: 2,762 feet
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Time: 2 to 5 hours, depending on fitness level and summit time
Trail Markers: Yellow to start, changing to Blue at the Lower Wolfjaw junction
Rooster Comb is a relatively small peak (not even cracking the highest 200 in NY), but it is a pleasant hike and extremely accessible. The short mileage, relatively easy grade, and proximity to town make this a nice option for “non-hikers”, so to speak, and the nature trail and beaver pond are a great start to a family hike. More experienced hikers could enjoy this peak as a side trip on the way out of the area. It took me a little over 2 hours, and that was with some solid “hanging around” time thrown in.
This hike to Rooster Comb can also be combined with a trip to Snow Mt. to form a really nice day loop hike.
The only downside to Rooster Comb might be the crowds you are likely to experience on busier days.
From Lake Placid: Follow Rt. 73 South, toward Keene/Keene valley and I87. Shortly after passing through Keene Valley the trailhead will be on your right.
- Osprey Day Pack – great for short hikes and doubles as my commuter bag
- EMS Endotherm Softshell – my do everything, wear everywhere, softshell jacket
- Mountain Hardwear Winter Wander Pants – fantastic softshell hiking pants
- Black Diamond hiking poles
- Garmont Momentum Snow GTX boots – finally my feet stay warm on these hikes!