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View Full Version : Algonquin: Up From Heart Lake Or Avalanche Pass?



DayTrip
08-15-2016, 05:39 PM
I sort of asked this question in an earlier post and some info was offered but I'm curious what everyone's full opinion is. I will hopefully get a chance to climb Algonquin on SAT and I want to include Avalanche Pass in the loop. What I haven't decided is whether I want to go straight up to Algonquin from Heart Lake and descend to Avalanche Pass or if I should go up Avalanche Pass first.

I'm pretty sure I'm going up Avalanche Pass first. First and foremost, it looks like there is a lot more water/river crossings this way so I can go light on water and filter to keep my pack weight down. It also sounds like it has some rugged areas and some steeps and I'd prefer to tackle them earlier rather than later. Looking at the map it looks like more descent heading to the lake which I'd be climbing too if I hit Algonquin first and going in the other diection. Lastly, I'm guessing Avalanche Pass may be more picturesque with early morning/East light and if the afternoon is hot it'll be somewhat shaded descending down to Heart Lake after the summit.

The other side of the coin is going straight to the summit and getting the vertical out of the way and descending the steep climb up from the Lake. As steep as it is though maybe that is problematic with all the wet rocks, ledges, etc. And if the Pass is challenging maybe that could prove more exhausting after climbing Algonquin and beating on my quads with that descent.

Anyone want to weigh in with their thoughts? Is there anything I am not taking into consideration that would sway my decision one way or the other? Appreciate any feedback on the topic. Thanks.

Chip
08-16-2016, 04:44 PM
I did the loop in the winter from Marcy Dam, through Avalanche and up Algonquin and back to Marcy Dam.
I cared as much about seeing Avalanche as I did about Algonquin though, so I went that way and then made the decision about Algonquin.
I believe that section between Avalanche and Algonquin is steeper and might be trickier/wetter in summer than going straight up to Algonquin.
If you care less about Avalanche, you could get Wright, Iroquois and Algonquin (potentially) that day.
Good luck. Beautiful area.

Sherry
08-16-2016, 05:15 PM
I hiked up to Algonquin then down through Avalanche pass this past July. Yes the rocks were wet but I didn't think it was anything too strenuous (but I like going down much better than up b/c I'm not that strong). Once you hit the creek you will have to walk in it & cross it multiple times b/f reaching the lake so def take that into consideration.

I like your idea about how the lake will look in the early hours.

DayTrip
08-16-2016, 06:07 PM
I did the loop in the winter from Marcy Dam, through Avalanche and up Algonquin and back to Marcy Dam.
I cared as much about seeing Avalanche as I did about Algonquin though, so I went that way and then made the decision about Algonquin.
I believe that section between Avalanche and Algonquin is steeper and might be trickier/wetter in summer than going straight up to Algonquin.
If you care less about Avalanche, you could get Wright, Iroquois and Algonquin (potentially) that day.
Good luck. Beautiful area.

I definitely want to see Avalanche Pass and the lakes. Just can't decide if I want to make it a separate trip altogether. My ability to get all the way out to NY (specifically hikes based out of the Loj) is limited so I'm trying to jam as much stuff into the hike as possible. The Wright/Algonquin/Iroquois hike is probably the more sensible choice. Another thing I was considering was Avalanche Pass and going all the way out to Skylight. Seems like no matter which way you go to Skylight it is a long route. I guess I'll make the call that morning based on the weather. If there is a threat of afternoon T-storms I'll probably go straight to summit.

DayTrip
08-16-2016, 06:09 PM
I hiked up to Algonquin then down through Avalanche pass this past July. Yes the rocks were wet but I didn't think it was anything too strenuous (but I like going down much better than up b/c I'm not that strong). Once you hit the creek you will have to walk in it & cross it multiple times b/f reaching the lake so def take that into consideration.

I like your idea about how the lake will look in the early hours.

Thanks. I've been wearing trail runners of late. May be better to bring the real boots for this one.

Were the sections of trail in the riverbed easy enough to follow? How was the footing? 2300' is a big time drop in just 1.7 miles. Has to be a quad buster.

bignslow
08-16-2016, 07:21 PM
Thanks. I've been wearing trail runners of late. May be better to bring the real boots for this one.

Were the sections of trail in the riverbed easy enough to follow? How was the footing? 2300' is a big time drop in just 1.7 miles. Has to be a quad buster.

Stick with the trail runners, you can keep your feet dry easily. Trail is very easy to follow and is well marked the entire way.

Here's my recommendation: If you want to see avalanche pass/lake, get in there, deal with the rough trail along the lake early in the day, and then head up to the col between Algonquin and Iroquois. If you're feeling good there, go over to Iroquois, it isn't that much gain round trip, and the climb up Algonquin isn't that tough (despite the fact that it looks huge from there). On the way down, you'll have a few scrambles down to the Wright junction, and again, if you're feeling good, go bag Wright. On the way down there are a few more ledges to navigate, but nothing that isn't done by thousands of less prepared people every year. If you go this way, you'll mostly avoid the conga line up and across the range.

DayTrip
08-17-2016, 05:08 PM
Stick with the trail runners, you can keep your feet dry easily. Trail is very easy to follow and is well marked the entire way.

Here's my recommendation: If you want to see avalanche pass/lake, get in there, deal with the rough trail along the lake early in the day, and then head up to the col between Algonquin and Iroquois. If you're feeling good there, go over to Iroquois, it isn't that much gain round trip, and the climb up Algonquin isn't that tough (despite the fact that it looks huge from there). On the way down, you'll have a few scrambles down to the Wright junction, and again, if you're feeling good, go bag Wright. On the way down there are a few more ledges to navigate, but nothing that isn't done by thousands of less prepared people every year. If you go this way, you'll mostly avoid the conga line up and across the range.

Excellent. I think that will be the plan then. Thanks.

Sherry
08-17-2016, 06:31 PM
I agree, Big's idea sounds like a great plan. We were actually supposed to do it that way but for certain reasons we chose the other way around.

Yes, trail runners are fine & as stated if your feet get wet they'll dry out faster.

Like I said it's much easier for me to go down, maybe I'm quad dominant but everyone has different strengths & weaknesses.

DayTrip
08-22-2016, 08:38 AM
Did get to do this Saturday and it went well. Having done the full loop now I can say I did prefer slightly going to Avalanche Lake first and coming down to Heart Lake. Ironically, the long climb up along and through the river on the way up to Algonquin was actually very dry in comparison to the wet slabs and mud going down the other side. In wet conditions going up I'm sure would be more difficult and probably desirable ascending vs descending. Quite a bit of slabs in either direction so descending was really a toss up either way. But the scrambling around the lake was definitely better earlier in the day and the stretch between the lake and the junction to head up to Algonquin had a lot of tree routes and mud and generally awkward footing. All the new bog bridges they have installed in what looked like a tedious wet and muddy area at the height of the pass certainly helped make the route easier too. On the downside, once you get a little past the spur for Wright Peak the trail back to Van Hoevenberg I found to be very boring and tedious. Seemed to go on forever. Finishing with a stop at Marcy Dam and then an easy cruise out to the car may have been better. God bless the trail crew that maintains that section of the pass. Wasn't a "slam dunk" one way or the other as far as direction but I was happy the way I went.

And the people!! I think the Adirondacks are even worse than the White Mountains for crowds. Granted, I did two of probably the most popular summits in NY on a Saturday but I can't believe the insane crowds. Every strip of space near every trail head is packed with cars and people from Lake Placid to the highway. Even at 11 AM there was well over 50 people on the summit and when descending I couldn't go 100 yards without stopping to let a group by. But at least the sun was out and I got to see views unlike my hike up Marcy a month ago. Definitely looking forward to more trips out here to see more of these peaks. Thanks to all for the advice on the route.