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Giant Mountain NY

Giant Mountain, Day Hike in the Adirondacks

I’ve driven by the trailhead more times than I can count, yet never stopped to actually climb Giant Mountain. With such an accessible trail, and mileage that fits nicely into a day hike, I was saving it for a time when I was feeling less ambitious, or when my schedule was less flexible.

That day finally arrived on our most recent Lake Placid vacation. Feeling motivated enough to get out for a hike, but somewhat drained from a long day of paddling the day before, Giant seemed to fit right into our plans.

View Giant Mountain in a larger map

At an elevation of 4,626 feet, Giant Mountain sits at number 12 on the Adirondack 46er Peak List – right behind Colden and just ahead of Nippletop. There are three major trails that lead to its summit, two from the East – along Rt. 73 – and one from the West starting in New Russia. The western approach is a longer hike but is a good option for those looking to become an Adirondack 46er since it climbs over Rocky Peak Ridge (#20 on the list).

We chose to start our hike from the Roaring Brook parking area, arriving right around noon. There were only a few other cars in the lot, which surprised us somewhat given the popularity of the Roaring Brook Falls, and we were the only ones who signed the register on this day. So looking forward to a crowd free hike, we laced up our boots and set off.

The trail follows red markers for 3.6 miles over a 3375 foot ascent. It is very well marked and maintained and is really a rather pleasant hike… but can be surprisingly strenuous in parts, with some sections of sustained climbing.

Signs for Roaring Brook Falls are found soon after leaving the parking lot. These trails offer quick side trips to either the base of the falls, or the top. We checked out the base on our way back down and were not overly impressed. It is hard to take in the full magnitude of them from that vantage point (see photo below), and you don’t have access to any views. Its a nice place for a lunch, but I imagine the top of the falls would be a better bet. Or you could come back in winter and climb the falls after they’ve frozen over!

Around the 2.8 mile mark you will approach another side trip possibility, with a trail leading off to Giant’s Washbowl – a high elevation pond and the only reliable water source on the hike. From there the trail continues upward, with occasional lookouts out over the other high peaks…

View from the trail

View from the trail (click for larger)

… and a few fun rock scrambles.

Rock scramble near the summit

Rock scramble near the summit

Around the Ridge Trail junction (which leads to the summit of Rocky Peak Ridge) Jess and I noticed a cross with the name “Eric Engler” engraved on it. We tried to find additional information about this and learned about a terribly sad story. Back in 1990 Eric collapsed and died on the mountain while climbing it with friends – he was 14 years old. The memorial was placed by his parents.

The trail leading up from that junction is the ‘homestretch’ to the summit, and soon we were standing on the top of Giant. It was a gorgeous day and our efforts were rewarded with some amazing views.

Summit view (click for larger)

On the summit

Dave on the summit

Where: The Adirondack Park, near Keene Valley

Directions from Lake Placid: Take Rt. 73 south. The trailhead is a ways past the center of Keene Valley and is on the left side of the road before you hit the Roaring Brook lookout – if you pass views of the falls from the road (on your left), you have gone too far. It is a quick turn off, and kind of narrow, so watch for a sign that says “Giant Mnt, Roaring Brook”

Difficulty: A strenuous day hike. Took us about 6 hours.

Summary: Giant Mountain is an accessible Adirondack day hike that offers outstanding views back over many of the High Peaks, including Mt. Marcy and the Great Range as well as Dix and Cascade. There are several nice side trip opportunities, including trails that lead to a water fall (Roaring Brook Falls), a high elevation pond (Giant’s Washbowl), and another Adirondack 46 (Rocky Peak Ridge). It is a nice compromise between more popular/overcrowded hikes like to the summit of Cascade, and more involved and ambitious hikes such as those into the Marcy and Mt. Colden area.

Gear Used

Related Reading

Additional Photos

Click on Thumbnail to View Larger Image

Rt 73 Parking Sign

Rt 73 Parking Sign

Trailhead parking lot

Trailhead parking lot

View of the summit from trail

View of the summit from trail



View from the summit

View from the summit

Base of Roaring Brook Falls

Base of Roaring Brook Falls


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  5. Jacqueline Madill
    Jacqueline Madill08-28-2010


    Thanks for the description and information. I find it encouraging and the pictures look rewarding.

    I have tried to ascend this mountain from Hwy. 73 on 3 different occasions as a little side trip. I was very surprised each time to find that I did not reach the summit although each time I got closer to the summit. I thought about how unrealistic I was and have decided to actually give myself the luxery of a full day this fall so that I can make it to the top.

    I am 61 years old and decided that it is really important to me to do this hike before I get too old. So this fall, 2010, Giant Mtn., Here I come.

    • jbufano

      Did you ever make the hike up Giant?

  6. Christine

    This was a great detailed description of your hike at Giant! Thanks for such a great and informative blog on the hike. I am a concierge in the Lake Placid area and an avid hiker myself so on both accounts, thank you for the detailed information on hiking the area. Much appreciated and glad it looks like such a fun hike!

    • Dave

      Thanks Christine.

      Glad you liked the trip report, it was certainly a fun one. Re-reading it makes me want to get back up there soon!

      We plan on heading up to Rocky Peak Ridge this fall… so we’ll be up near Giant’s summit again soon. We’ve also heard wonderful things about climbing the slides of Giant. Eagle Slide in particular looks like a lot of fun!

  7. Jim Martin
    Jim Martin10-15-2011

    Hello Dave,

    Thank you for the excellent web page for Giant Mountain.

    Been considering a Giant Mountain hike for a couple of years now. You convinced me.

    We (wife and I) finally got around to climbing Mt. Ascutney in Vermont this fall…. we had been talking about it for for the last 25 years. It was definitely worth the wait.

    Good hiking.

  8. Michael Bonardi
    Michael Bonardi01-15-2012

    Good job on the report Dave! A couple of question:

    1. Is do you thin k this a a good long day hike in the winter or is to much walking for the short days of February?

    2. In the winter will technical gear be required?

    Happy Trails,

    Sincerely, Michael

    • Dave

      Hi Michael,

      Giant is certainly doable as a winter day hike… depending on individual hiking speed, fitness levels, and conditions. You should, of course, plan for an emergency or longer than expected outing and pack accordingly. And an early start will obviously help as well.

      Technical gear… as in ropes and axes, etc… would not be needed if you are sticking to the marked trails. However, traction devices will almost certainly be required. Microspikes or crampons to traverse the ice that is guaranteed to be on the trails… and possibly snowshoes, if we ever get snow! And of course, proper winter clothing.

      Conditions can change pretty rapidly around here. So your best bet in terms of being prepared for the conditions would be to call either The Mountaineer (an outfitter in Keene Valley, not too far from the Giant trailheads) or the Adirondack Mountain Club a day before your scheduled hike. They should be able to give you current conditions and recommendations on the gear needed in those conditions.

      Hope this helps some. Feel free to post more questions here if you have them (we are back from vaca now so shouldn’t take as long to respond!), and do come back and tell us how it went. Have fun and be safe!

  9. pat

    Could you clarify the “sustained climbing”. Is this just steep ascent along a trail or are you really rock climbing?
    Any camp sites along the way or at the base?
    Many thanks.

    • Dave

      Hi Pat,

      It is just a steep ascent. No actual rock climbing as long as you stick to the established trails. There are some rock and slide climbing possibilities on Giant, but the closest to that you will find on the marked trails is something along the lines of the “rock scramble” photo I posted above.

      There is a designated campsite in the first mile or two of the hike, near the top (and maybe one near the bottom, closer to the trailhead) of Roaring Brook Falls. I also believe there are campsites near Giant’s Washbowl, which is a short side trip from the trail we discuss in this article.

      It is a fun hike. Feel free to hit us up with any other questions you have, and don’t forget to come back and let us know how it goes!


  10. Amy

    Always wanted to hike never found the time until today took a day trip with the ADK Foothills chapter(Glversville) we hiked Giant Mt … it was a great day

    • Dave

      That is fantastic to hear, Amy. We’ve had some gorgeous hiking days this summer, glad you made it out for one.

      We plan on hiking Giant again this weekend, on our way to Rocky Peak Ridge.

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