View Full Version : Hough descent

04-29-2004, 09:45 AM
The upper portions of the descent from Hough using the Lillian Brook path seem quite well trodden, witha good herd path. The problems come below 3000 feet with the blowdown, where (so far as I could see) the herdpath segments. Is there a navigational trick to avoid the worst of the blowdown band? I'd not mind using this route up Hough from LB lean-to at some point, over to Dix and back to LB via the trail, but would be happier if I could avoid the worst of Floyd's aftermath.


GU Man
04-29-2004, 11:23 AM
We tried to use the Lillian Brook "shortcut" exit after doing Macomb/Grace/Carson about 3 years ago. It was a total mess!!! You'd be on the supposed herdpath for a while then it would just end and you'd be looking at a pile of blowdown that stretched as far as you could see. We'd pick up another herdpath and same thing over and over. After getting tired of crawling under and over the blowdown mess, we stayed "in" Lillian Brook for about an hour until it intersceted the Dix trail. Unless you hear from others that it has improved some in the past 3 years, I'd avoid this route.

04-29-2004, 11:56 AM
Thanks. Actually, I already did the descent this past weekend, so I have had a taste. It's tough as blazes, and I do a lot of bushwhacking. However, if a clean(er) line exists, I would consider it for a Hough & Dix combo. If not, I'll just do Dix in the usual fashion next time. Cliff (which I have not done) is also, I hear, a bit rough.


GU Man
04-29-2004, 01:37 PM
My buddies and I did Cliff from Uphill LT last June. My buddies only then climbed Cliff again this past February - they snowshoed across Flowed Lands and went up Cliff from this other side. They said it was tremoundously easier doing Cliff via this winter route.

Check out the latest trail conditions post from someone who just climbed Cliff - it's one nasty peak to climb from Uphill LT side.

ALGonquin Bob
04-29-2004, 07:44 PM
I had read that the Lillian Brook trail was full of blowdown, so I avoided it. I'll continue to avoid it, and use the trail up to the Beckhorn instead.

I hiked up Cliff from Uphill Brook in June '02... nasty. Then I hiked up Cliff from Flowed Land three months ago. It's like two different mountains. Do it in the Winter!

04-29-2004, 09:06 PM
Scoutmaster Tom and I went up Macomb, over S Dix, Pough and Hough, back down Hough and down the Hough Pough col late last September. Pretty easy going until you veer off from Lillian Brook and take a diagonal back to the trail. The blow down there was a pain for us, but not impossible, and I guarantee you we are not bushwacking beasties. It hits the trail between the Slide Brook lean-to and Lillian Brook If you were going out from the Slide Brook lean-to, it would be on your right. I think there was a cairn there.

I'd remember we pretty much followed a primary compass bearing all the way down the col and back, but I can't remember off the top of my head which one - west? Hey, Scoutmaster Tom was the compass man - that's why he was the scoutmaster.

Anyway, we read a post on the Trail Condition page last September before we tried it, and it sounded ok to us, so we gave it a shot. Not too bad.

Mind you, this was not the S Dix/ Macomb col, which, I think, follows Lillian Brook all the way. Jon and I did that in the May before Floyd, but have avoided it since, due to reports of blowdown, and the webmaster's horror story on AdirondackJourney.com

04-30-2004, 02:29 AM
Barbara McMartin has written that the Lillian Brook herd path is an emergency bailout only and should not be used otherwise because it is too steep for regular use.

04-30-2004, 05:56 AM
There is a fairly well defined herd path from the Hough Pough col. It follows a stream - I don't know what the name is - , starting on the right side of it as we were descending, until that peters out Sometimes we were on the left of the stream, sometimes the right, sometimes in it - fairly typical. Then you pick up Lillian Brook, and follow it thru some open woods. Then you veer off from Lillian Brook. It was not particularly steep by ADK standards for us (back side of Saddleback was steep for me), and we are not anywhere near the experts who are on VFTT.

I do remember my friend Bill talking about a route he took down with his son which involved some 15' cliffs off Hough - but we did not encounter cliffs the way we went. I will ask him where he picked it up when he gets off the road and I get a chance to talk with him.

04-30-2004, 06:39 AM
RonandJon--I'd certainly appreciate any more info. From what you state you largely missed the blowdown by your route, which sounds slightly different from ours, which had some cliffy sections (no big deal -- my issue was with the blowdown, not incline).


04-30-2004, 06:51 AM

I had missed your earlier posting. I think your route was entirely different (and preferable) -- we came straight down the LB. It's messy. As to Raymond's note, which I also missed (not enough tea yet?): while not a dire emergency, as the weather was changing fast, rather than go on to Dix as planned (which would have involved, as it turned out, summiting and descent through snow/rain/ice), we decided to bail via LB, fully aware of McMartin's strictures but slightly optimistic that things might have improved slightly. As bushwhacks go, I have done very much worse, but I'm definitely intrigued by the clear route mentioned by ronandjon that comes out between LB and SB.

04-30-2004, 08:35 AM
"Barbara McMartin has written that the Lillian Brook herd path is an emergency bailout only and should not be used otherwise because it is too steep for regular use"

I believe that there is (was) a fork in the Lillian Brook herd path high up. One was recommended for emergency use (McMartin) and the other was the "normal" route. This was shown on the map which accompanied her High Peaks book.

I believe that with Floyd, it is academic since the approach to this fork from the Dix Trail is a nightmare, at least for many folks.

05-02-2004, 12:52 PM
Ed, a couple of years ago(after Floyd) my son and I did the descent from the Macomb/Carson col after a recommendation by an older couple that said they had recently done it. We had read the book in the Lillian Brook leanto about how dreadful the blowdown was but we are gluttons for punishment. It started out as a pretty well defined herd path and in a few places required a little route finding. We saw where the path came in from the Hough/Pough col and shortly ran into the blowdown area. We knew the trail was down below us and we needed to head towards the left so we tried to always go around the downed trees to the left. It still required some over, under, around and through, but it was doable(with packs) and eventually we hit the trail in between the 2 leantos. By trying to go around and attack the blowdown at an angle it was less work than trying to follow a compass bearing directly. With a little sense of direction you will eventually hit the trail. I've been through a lot worse. I would not recommend ascending that route until a path is established unless you had a gps with waypoints for the head of the Lillian Brook. That could be tough.

05-02-2004, 05:03 PM
Yup, that summed it up very well: over, under, around and through, but not impossible stuff. The only other thing I will add is that the spot where the herd path leaves Lillian Brook and heads off to the left, to come out between the two lean-to's, was fairly easy to discern. You could also pretty much pick up the path through the blow down with out too much trouble, so it must be getting some traffic. I also seem to remember passing through a boggy area at one point when we were, in retrospect, fairly close to the main trail, and having my foot sink down until the mud was over my boot - and this was in late September.

I believe I talked with someone I met on the trail, and we discussed why the herd path left Lillian Brook He told me it was because the blowdown along Lillian Brook below that point was really bad.

And you are right - doing it in the opposite direction would probably be tougher to figure out.

I think the descent via that route was a good choice for us, because I just needed Hough, and I did not want to go over to Dix and down the Beckhorn again, and I did not want to reclimb Pough, S Dix (Carson?) and Macomb again. There is a pretty good sized clearing in the Hough Pough col, where it looks like people have camped and had fires. If you come out of the clearing going towards Pough and take a right, on the compass bearing, the start of the herd path is pretty easy to find. I do remember it petered out a little and we sort of headed left until we hit the brook, which we then followed down until that petered out. Then we followed a faint trail through the grass and ferns, looking for flattened vegeatation, until we hit the path combing in from the Macom, Carson col, and we turned right. Then it was pretty easy to follow, with a few crossings of Lillian Brook, until the final time we veered off to the left.

ERD, that's about all I can remember. I still haven't talked with Scoutmaster Tom - he may remember a little more. PM me if you have a question I might be able to answer. ron

05-02-2004, 05:29 PM
Thank you, everyone. I know have a better idea where we went wrong (failing to bear left to the point between the lean-tos, and instead heading straight for LB). I'm less clear how one would reverse the correct line in from the trail and for that reason will probably forego ascent by that route. I don't in the least mind bushwhacks as long as I have a good sense of when and where they will end!