Thursday, December 23, 2021

Climbing the Adirondack 46ers

In the past two years, I have written quite a few posts about the Adirondack 46er (ADK 46) peaks. Now that I have visited all of the summits at least once, I'd like to write an overview about my experiences on the 46ers.

Alpine terrain on Haystack

The Adirondack 46ers are the 46 summits in the Adirondacks rising over 4,000 feet. The list actually contains several peaks less than 4,000 feet. When the list was first conceived, less accurate elevation measurements placed these sub-4,000 foot mountains above the magical 4,000 foot mark. After more accurate measurements placed these peaks below 4,000 foot, they remained on the list to keep in consistent with the original. Generally the 46ers are located within the High Peaks and adjacent Wilderness areas. This region of the Adirondacks is often referred to as the High Peaks.

View from the Dix Range

Many regions have peak bagging lists that usually include peaks above a certain elevation. The lists range from the extremely elite 8,000M summits (summits rising above 8,000 meters) and  the Seven Summits (Continental high points), to small local lists like the Tupper Lake Triad in my current home town consisting of three modest peaks. In the US some of the these lists include the High Pointers (Highest summit in each of the 50 states), Colorado 14ers (50+ summits over 14,000feet), Southern Sixers (summits over 6,000 feet), New Hampshire 48 (48 summits over 4,000 feet), NE 111 ( 4,000 foot summits in New England and New York), the ADK 46ers (46 Adirondack summits that were believed to be over 4,000 foot), and many others throughout the country.

View from Cascade

Throughout the US I have climbed many mountains on many of these lists. I never became too focused on peak bagging lists however. I didn't live close enough to any one group of mountains on a list to warrant the travel to check off a list for the sake of checking off a list. I was unaware of hiking lists when I started hiking, so they were never a priority. I mostly hiked these places because I wanted experience the hike, the lists didn't really mean anything to me.

Seward Range from Seymour

In 2019, I moved to Tupper Lake, NY in the heart of the Adirondacks. Despite hiking, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking, skiing, and running in nearly 30 states and a handful of Canadian provinces prior to moving to the Adirondacks, I never hiked hiked a single mile in the Adirondacks before I moved there. Nearly every peak on the Adirondack 46er list can be reached within an hour drive from my house. For the first time, I decided to actually see through a peak bagging list. While finishing the ADK 46 wasn't a top priority, I did make an effort to incorporate routes in the High Peaks regularly. Since I live so close to the mountains, I tried to hold out for the best weather days to get the most out of my summit days. I didn't focus entirely on the 46 when I started hiking the Adirondacks. I  hiked and backpacked plenty of other destinations in between trips to the High Peaks. I spent plenty of time kayaking, cycling, running, fishing, and skiing as well between trips to the High Peaks. When I passed the half-way point on the list, I started to focus on finishing the list.


There is no right or wrong way to tackle the 46ers as long as you travel by foot, ski, or snowshoe. Everybody's 46er journey will look different. Some have hiked all 46 in one long continuous hike, while others have taken decades to finish the list. This is a synopsis of my hikes over the 46 peaks and not meant to be a guide. My listed mileage may not match other reported distances since I often take side trips to visit destinations other than the peaks on the list or alter my route to take less used paths or visit other peaks.

Descending Marcy

Click on the blue links below to read about the specific hikes in more detail.

View from Big Slide