Dial, Nippletop, Colvin, Blake (#17, #18, #19, #20)

Date of Hike: 6/6/11

Lake Road: 1.3 miles
Henry Goddard Leach Trail: 5.9 miles
Elk Pass Trail: 1.9 miles
Colvin Trail: 5.0 miles
Fish Hawk Cliffs / Indian Head Trail: 1.5 miles
Lake Road: 3.0 miles
Total Miles: 18.6 (6,000 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- After an easy hike Sunday it was time to get back to hiking lots of miles with significient elevation gain and loss so I headed to the Colvin Range to hike four more of the 46 High Peaks.
- The trails to access these mountains start inside the grounds of the private Ausable Club were you walk on a private road by an old wooden gate and hike a little over a mile to the start of the Henry Goddard Leach Trail.
- The HGL Trail has moderate grades an decent footing but has a few ups and downs once gaining the ridge as it heads over Noonmark Shoulder, Bear Den Mountain, Dial, and a few minor sub-peaks.  Views from Noonmark Shoulder of the Lower Great Range were pretty good.
- Dial and Nippletop both have decent outlooks as well over to the Great Range and some of the southern High Peaks.
- The hike down to Elk Pass was pretty steep and it was back to awful footing which I've been accustomed to in the ADK's.  About a few tenths of a mile before the Colvin Trail I ran into two hikers headed up to Nippletop, they would be the only to hikers I'd see all day!
- Now it was time for part two of the hike, up to Colvin and over to Blake.  The hike up to Colvin was steep at the beginning and end of the ascent to the summit.  It started to rain for a few minutes eventhough the sun was out which felt refreshing.
- At Colvin's summit outlook I took a break and took in the views before the bugs started buzzing around me.
- Now it was off to Blake where I was in for a rude awakening as the trail lost lots of elevation down a few well placed ladders to the Colvin-Blake col where I'd then have to hike back up to Blake.  It was pretty steep and unpleasent and Blake's summit is wooded so it wasn't to rewarding to say the least!
- Now it was time for the long hike back to the car, unfortunately I had to hike back up and over Colvin before it was back to descending most of the way.
- On the way back to Lake Road I took a side trip over the trails that passed by Fish Hawk Cliffs and Indian Head.  The best views of the day were from these to outlooks as they are perched directly above Lower Ausable Lake where you can look down the steep drop offs down to the lake as mountains rise high above.
- Once back on the private Lake Road it was an easy hike back out to the car, it started to rain again and it was refreshing to cool off for a few minutes and a great way to end a nice long hike

Times: On trail 6:45am, Dial 8:50am, Nippletop 9:45am, Colvin 11:25am, Blake 12:10pm, Indian Head 2:10pm, finished 3:30pm

Pictures: Click here for all pictures

 Lake Road Gate
 Upper and Middle Great Range
 Lower Ausable Lake
 Basin and Saddleback Mountains
 Indian Head
Lower Ausable River


  1. Hi Chris
    Just wanted to get your opinion on which was a harder hike the Dix Range or Dial, Nippletop, Colvin and Blake.
    I plan on doing one of them this Friday.


  2. Hi Paul,

    I found that hiking Dial, Nippletop, Colvin, and Blake in a day harder for two reasons. First, after summiting Nippletop you have to drop all the way back down and then head up to Colvin then over to Blake then come back and that col between Colvin and Blake wore me down a little since it was later in the hike. Second and for me what made it less fun was that the Dix Range has some incredible views while hiking up the Macomb slide and there are nice rocky areas around South and East Dix's summit providing great views as well as finishing up on Dix's summit ledges are fun and filled with awesome views as well!

    When you do Dial through Blake make sure on your way out you hit up fish hawk cliffs and indian head, it's a great outlook perched high above Ausable Lake...you can sit up there forever and enjoy the scenery!


  3. Chris, the photo from Colvin is terrific.

  4. Hey Chris!
    I'm planning to do the same hike you did, but I'll be taking my dad along. We are both in very good shape and are pretty experienced hikers. Any advice? Anything at all? Please respond ASAP here or email me samuelwinegar1@gmail.com
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Sam,

      I can only give you advice when there is no snow because I haven't been to the ADK's yet when there is. I think you guys will be fine, you're experienced so you know what you're doing. The trail down from Nippletop is steep and has cruddy footing so just watch yourself through there. Between Colvin and Blake is steep in spot, there is a ladder (I think it's still there) to help you out but before and after the ladder I remember there being a tricky spot, just use caution and you'' have fun around that section.

      Other than that the Fish Hawk cliffs and Indian Head were pretty freaking cool, so don't skip out on those. Enjoy that road walk at the end of the hike, what a bitch!

      Happy Hiking!!!

  5. Hi Chris. These are some great pics you have. I want some overnight hikes and was planning the Colvin Range as one for this summer. Could you answer a few questions for me?

    -Is there a viable water source if I bring a filter?
    -Where do you park? I had read something about a DEC parking lot??
    -Is it correct that you can have a campfire in this area/at the campsite?
    -Any fishing?
    -I have basically only done day hikes however have read many logs of hikers making camp and leaving some gear there while bagging a few peaks. Have you ever done this? I feel like I would be too worried about someone walking off with my stuff while I was gone.

    1. There is a water source near the bottom of the Trail before heading up to Colvin and it's a great spot to camp.

      For parking, you head over to the Ausable Club golf course and there is a hikers lot with signs down a dirt road. Make sure you park in the hikers lot or you get in trouble. It's about a ten minute walk to the gate of lake road

      As far as campfires go, I don't know the answer to that one. I know there are not a lot of places to have a fire it seems in the Daks but you can always check with the DEC

      You could probably fish in the lower and upper Ausable Lakes, BUT they are private so you may get chased out if you are not stealth enough

      You can drop your bag between peaks, I wouldn't worry so much about it getting stolen but if there is food in there the bears will steal it. No lie, they will find it and take it. Make sure you have a bear box to store your food at night, away from your tent.

      Have a great time, let me know how it goes. If you have any other questions email me at cdailey@hpearce.com

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    1. Hey Anonymous, I accidently deleted your comment before reading it, please re-write or feel free to email me at cdailey@hpearce.com


  8. Hey, I am planing a trip to the adirondacks with the boy scouts and this looked like a good hike I just had a couple questions. Would this be a smart hike for 12-17 year old boys? We are planning on backpacking it and doing it in 3 days and 2 nights, would there be places to camp along the way? Is there running water along the trail? If this is not a good trail for a group like us is there another 15-20 mile hike that you would recommend in the area that would be better.

  9. Hi William,

    From what I remember there are primitive spots in Elk Pass you can set up camp in. There is also water there you can filter. The hardest part of your first day would be hiking with the full gear over Dial and Nippletop, the descent down from Nippletop to Elk Pass is a steep one. Not dangerous, just steep. On day two you can do the out and back over Colvin and Blake back to your camp in Elk Pass. Your load will be light since you wont have the camping gear so it wont be as difficult. The walk out on day three is over Lake Road, pretty simple. If the weather is good check out Fishawk cliffs and Indian Head, that's probably the best part of the hike!

    As for bringing 12-17 year old on this hike, I can't answer that. If you want to play it safe hike the Lake Road to Elk pass, set up your camp and lighten your gear and then go up and down Nippletop on day one.

    If you want to play it really really safe. Head to Marcy Damn or Flowed Lands, from these places you have a ton of options!

    Hope this helps. If you have any other questions feel free to email me at cdailey@hpearce.com

    Have a great hike, Chris

  10. My wife and I, both in our early 50's want to hike Dial and Nippletop. Would you suggest going to Nippletop first and down to Dial or vice versa.


    1. Hi Iain. I've done it both ways. It basically comes down to what you prefer to do. If you want to get most of the road walk out of the way first and like ascending the steepest part rather than descending it then head up Nippletop first. If you want to get hiking up earlier and don't mind the steep descent from Nippletop followed by the longer road walk, head up Dial first.

      Hope you have good weather and a great hike!