Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Saturday, July 7, 2012

MacNaughton Mountain - 7/5/12

The "unofficial" high peak of the Adirondacks is MacNaughton Mountain.  Originally thought to fall short of 4000', it was later determined to be exactly 4000', and still later questioned once again.  In any case, it is higher than several of the official 46 peaks.

Upper and Lower Wallface ponds are connected by this small water flow

MacNaughton can be reached from Upper Works, Duck Hole or the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC).  I choose to hike from the HPIC.   A marked through trail travels between the HPIC and Upper Works and a side trail leads to Wallface Pond where it ends.

Scott Clearing Leanto

Since the peak is an unofficial high peak, it is not climbed as often as the official peaks.  There is no marked trail to the summit.  There is not even a definitive herd path.  You must plan for a bushwhack to reach this summit.

Remains of dam

My wife Leesa, and dog Rev accompanied my the first 6.8 miles to Wallface Ponds.  We were on the trail at 6:35 AM.  The first 4 miles is almost flat until you pass the Scott Clearing leanto and turn onto the trail towards Scott Pond and Wallface Ponds.  The trail then climbs from 2200' to 3200' before leveling out again.   Leesa had no interest in bushwhacking, so her plan was to return with the dog and leave me to claw my way to the top.

Signage along the Scott Pond/Wallface Pond trail

From the end of the Wallface Pond trail, the easiest thing to do is cross between the two Wallface Ponds and bushwhack in a southwesterly direction until the summit ridge.  I went a little too southwesterly and encountered some of the severe blowdown I had read about in other posts.  I altered my course to head westerly and made my way to the ridge.  Some stretches weren't too difficult, while some stretches were tough.  

Quite a wall at this former dam location

As I neared the summit ridge, I had several locations where I was able to look back down and see the ponds below.   Once on the southwestern end of the ridge, I was able to follow a distinct herd path along the ridge to the northwestern edge of the ridge where the summit sign is located.  You must follow the ridge northwesterly until you can't go any further without dropping off a large ledge. 

I looked at the time while on the summit and it was exactly noon.  It had taken me an hour to bushwhack from the end of the marked trail to the summit.   I ate my lunch and enjoyed the solitude.   The only people I had seen all morning were two guys and a dog camping near Scott Pond.

After the summit R&R, I bushwhacked back down to the Wallface Ponds from the summit sign.  I didn't walk the ridge again but rather dropped down from where I was.  Occasionally on the way down I fell into rotted root holes that appeared like solid footing, but gave way when I stepped down.   It made for an interesting descent.

Marshy trail section en route to Wallface Ponds

I was back at the Wallface Ponds in 45 minutes and back to the marked trail.  I walked quickly to return to the HPIC and was back to the car at 3:45 PM.  My bushwhack hike was sucessful!  I would recommend to anyone doing this hike that they be sure to have a map and compass.  You may not need them, but again you might.

MacNaughton Mountain in the background, behind Wallface Pond!

The weather on this day was a mix of clouds and sun with temps in the low 80's in the valley.  The bugs weren't bothersome until the last mile on the return.

Gray Peak and Mount Skylight are coming up this weekend to finish my Adirondack High Peaks!

The Wallface Pond Crossing

A view of Wallface Pond from high on MacNaughton

A view from the MacNaughton summit ridge

Spelled wrong, but a summit sign nonetheless

Yes, I made it...

More of these pink flowers in the marsh

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  15.5 miles
Hike Time:  9 hours, 10 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  2970'

My MacNaughton Mountain GPS track at EveryTrail

My route highlighted in blue (click image to enlarge)


  1. 47 before 45&46 why not! Great report! Early congrats on your 46! Happy hiking!

    1. Thanks. Skylight was an awesome peak to finish on. We really had a great day of it.