Sunday, May 20, 2012

Macomb, South Dix, East Dix and Hough Mountains - 5/19/12

What a stretch of nice weather in the Northeastern US.  It was a perfect opportunity to do a long hike.  Last weekend was Dix Mountain, this Saturday was the lower Dix range, including 4 peaks:  Macomb, South Dix, East Dix and Hough mountains.  All 4 are Adirondack High Peaks and they could be done in a 12.5 mile trek which is what we chose to do.

Rev on the Macomb Slide

We started at the Elk Lake trailhead, same as last weekend. I knew we would have to be early to get a parking spot, due to the Victoria Day holiday weekend in Canada, and I was right. We arrived at the trailhead at about 7:15 AM and we grabbed the next to last parking spot. Hikers arriving later had to park 2 miles to the South at Clear Pond and walk the road (or catch a ride) to the trailhead. The car next to us had a nice NY license plate "50 PEAKS". I did see a lot of car with Canadian plates.

After crossing this footbridge, the rock cairn denotes the herd path beginning on the right

We followed the Dix path for an hour until just before the Slide Brook Leanto where there is a foot bridge with a handrail. Just after crossing that footbridge, there is a rock cairn ahead denoting where the Slide Brook herd path branches off to the right. We took that herd path which follows Slide Brook up to the Macomb Slide. We then climbed the slide which brought us up to 4000' and just 400 feet shy of the summit. At the top of the slide, the herd path resumed and we followed it to the top of Macomb Mountain. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the top of Macomb from the car.

Painted Trillium

Elk Lake from Macomb Slide

Near the top of the slide looking back down

The top of Macomb Mountain

We left Macomb, following the herd path to South Dix.  In the col between Macomb and South Dix there is a fork with a rock cairn.  The left branches to the Lillian Brook Herd Path, the right branches to South Dix.  We turned right here and began the rocky ascent up South Dix, which I thought was the best part of the hike (along with Macomb Slide). 

Climbing South Dix


At the top of the rock you re-enter the trees.  The summit is in the trees.

A tree at the summit of South Dix with an X and the initials S.D.

We continued on to East Dix.  As we did so, we began to run into many groups of hikers.  We probably saw 10 different groups.  One group had 9 people.  Some of the groups we saw multiple times.  All of them were very nice.  We chatted with a nice man from Burlington, VT and a nice man named Jared from Syracuse. 

The summit of East Dix

 The summit of East Dix is an exposed rock ledge with great views in 3 directions.  From there we retraced our steps back to South Dix.  A couple of steps from the summit was a rock cairn marking the herd path to Hough.  We took it and went over a false summit before coming down to a col between the false summit and Hough.  Here was a camping spot with a fire ring.  Immediately behind it was a small rock cairn and the Lillian Brook herd path.  That would be a descent route, but first we had to go up Hough.

A ledge just before the summit of Hough

We reached the summit of Hough at 2:30 and had the top to ourselves for 10 minutes before one of the groups caught back up to us.  Hough and Macomb both have small rock openings on the summit which afford views.  We then retraced our steps back down Hough to the col and camp site and began our descent down the Lillian Brook herd path.  We were a little worried about it because 2 different groups told us troubling things about it.  One group said it was hard to distinguish and follow, the other group said it was a really treacherous route.  Neither turned out to be the case.  It was a pleasant route.  The herd path was easy to follow and after a little while it came to Lillian Brook, which it then followed down.  A little ways down we came to a rock cairn marking a fork that goes to the col between Macomb and South Dix.

Macomb and Elk Lake from Hough.  Clear Pond also visible in the center.

Leesa on the ledge just before the summit of Hough


Lillian Brook from the herd path
Once down the Lillian Brook herd path, we re-entered the Dix Trail and had about a 3.5 mile hike back to the car.  All-in-all a great day with great weather.

Edit:  9/10/12 - The brand new National Geographic High Peaks map shows the herd paths on the map.  This is new.  The previous version did not.

Hike Stats

Hike Distance:  12.5 miles
Hike Time:  10 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  4400'

Our route shown in blue


  1. Nice day for a hike! Great photos, thanks for sharing.

  2. Enjoyed the pics! You'll have to try the slide up East Dix sometime, and the slides up Dix too - I think you'd enjoy those.

  3. I did this with a buddy today. Your trip report was very helpful. I noticed one thing that either we were confused about or that you may want to change. Your last note says - Halfway down we came to a rock cairn marking a fork going uphill. To the left was the branch we were on, and to the right it goes up to the col between Macomb and South Dix. I think you meant to say to the left goes up to the col and to the right goes down to the Dix trail. Thanks. Keith Strack.

    1. Thanks. I made a change to the wording of the report. FYI, in case you hadn't heard, the new National Geographic High Peaks map that just came, shows all the major herd paths in the Dix Range.

  4. Thanks. I'll probably pick up a copy.

  5. Thanks, Mike. I'm considering this hike, and it's very useful to know how how it took you. I.e. it will take me longer.

    1. Leesa was with me on that hike. I would say that she is an average speed hiker. She'll usually do about the book time.

  6. Took me eleven hours, including 15-20 minutes on each peak.

    1. Not bad. Hope you had good weather. That's a great loop hike.

  7. Thanks for your great trip reports. We are planning to take our dog along to the Dix Range this summer. Your dog appears to be about the same size. Did you experience any issues - especially approaching Hough?

    1. No she had no issues on that trip. On trips with tall ladders, I'll put a carry harness on her and lift her up. Occasionally I'll have to hoist her up a rock face, but it's rare.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hi there - you have ghreat trip reports! Thank-you. I was wondering if by any chance you also have the waypoint coordinates in a file (is it the .mps file? ) - since I notice that you have your track documented. I would like to have this as a back-up on my GPS just in case. If you have these/ would be willing - I'll share my e-mail or you can lmk how to reach you in some other way (this site won't allow me to create a profile - it doesn';t recognize my e-mail format for some reason).

      Thank-you so much


    4. I probably have a .gpx file. If you think that would be useful, you can post your email address and I'll send it to you.

  8. Thank you so much for your detailed report! I printed it out for my hike today, and I felt much more confident on my own on those unmarked trails, with no phone reception :) Finished the loop in 6 hours 40 minutes - what a great day, looks like we are getting close to foliage peak here in the ADKS!

    1. Fantastic! Yes, the colors are pretty spectacular in the North Country right now.

    2. Fantastic! Yes, the colors are pretty spectacular in the North Country right now.