Dix Range 17M Traverse, Adirondack Mountains, New York

WEATHER / RADAR - Elevation Gain: ~6000

July 1, 2018 

The Dix Range Traverse from Elk Lake is a total of 17 miles with about 5000 ft of elevation gain along the way. Not an easy hike by any means, but it certainly doesn’t rival the much more popular Great Range Traverse which has around 10000 ft of elevation gain. There are several convenient lean-tos off the Elk Lake-Dix Trail as well as a bivouac site in the col between Pough (the subpeak between South Dix and Hough) and Hough at about 3900 ft.

When doing the Dix Range Traverse from Elk Lake, there is a fundamental decision on whether you want to do it counter-clockwise or clockwise. For some, descending the Macomb slide (picture below at left) at the end of a long day may not sound like a friendly proposition. For others, having to descend the 6 or 7 miles from the summit of Dix at the end of the day may sound like a worse proposition. However, I found myself in the former group and thus decided to ascend the Macomb slide early in the day and then take the paths going to South Dix, East Dix, back to South Dix, Hough, and finally up to Dix Mountain before finally descending from the Beckhorn or through Hunters pass.

Presently the most popular route to the top is to head off from The Elk Lake Trail at the first lean-to/camping site and follow Slide Brook to the base of either one of two slides that leads to points just below the summit ridge. The preferred route is to go up the New Slide, which is as follows: Follow the N bank of the brook E for about 0.6 of a mile to where the brook forks. Continue the N side of the Left Fork for about another 0.5 of a mile to the base of a new slide coming down from the right. Head up this slide, which ends at about 0.3 of a mile from the summit ridge. Push up strait to the ridge and the summit should lie about 200 yards to the Right S. The older route starts the same as the new slide route but switches to the N side of the Right Fork and should reach the old slide after about 0.25 of a mile. After the slide is found simply follow it up the summit ridge and once on the ridge head N to the summit. Please note that it is now quite hard to find the lower reaches of the slide from the brook, as it is very overgrown. The best suggestion is to take the new slide up and then circle around back down the old slide to the brook.

GETTING THERE: To reach the Elk Lake trailhead one must leave Interstate 87 at exit 29 (North Hudson) then go W for 4 miles on Blue Ridge Rd. following the signs for Newcomb, then turn R off Blue Ridge Rd. onto a gravel Elk Lake Road marked with a sign for Elk Lake Lodge. At 5.2 miles there is a parking lot on the right just before the road drops down to Elk Lake.

Hike in: take the red trail towards Dix for 2.3 miles - once crossing Slide Brook, start scanning the right side for our turn towards Macomb following the first bridge. Macomb: Turn right on the herd path and follow the left bank of the brook closely for 0.9 miles until we start looking for the Macomb Slide on the right. Once on the slide, we follow it to the top. South & East Dix: Continue north then northeast off of Macomb following the high ridge line to the summit of South Dix. From the summit, follow the high ridge line towards East Dix and scramble to the top. Trace back to South Dix. If we're done here, trace back to Macomb to head back the way we came. Hough & Dix (optional): After the second visit to South Dix go north to the sub-peak between South Dix and Hough then head towards the top of Hough. From Hough we go north along the high ridge line to the eastern shoulder of Dix, then follow the ridge line as it continues west to the summit of Dix (picture above). Finish: From Dix, go down the yellow trail 2 miles until it ends, then turn left on the red trail and follow it all the way back to camp at Lilian Brook Lean-to. Day hikers will continue on towards Elk Lake. Optional: Return via Hunters Pass (Blue and then Red), much more scenic but dependent on pace to Dix. This area has some rubble piles, and is slightly harder to navigate. This route is only .8 miles longer and much more fun.