Hike to Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass

New York Adirondack Loj

Added by Janet Thomas

This loop hike to Mount Colden through Avalanche Pass and returning via Lake Arnold is abundant in varying terrain, picturesque lakes, lowland views, and breathtaking summit views!   

Mount Colden is number 11 on the list of 46ers, standing at 4,714 feet. There are a couple routes to Colden from the Loj. This route climbs through Avalanche Pass to Lake Colden and up the steep Lake Colden trail to the summit, and then descends through Lake Arnold, making this a nice 13.5 mile loop hike. There are plenty of spots to camp along the way, if you prefer to make this an overnight trip!

You will begin the hike up Mount Colden via the Van Hoevenberg Trail, following the Van Hoevenberg Trail for 2.1 miles in to Marcy Dam. The bridge has been removed so you will need to take a left just before the Dam and hike down to a wooden bridge to cross over, passing the jct. to the South Meadow Trail on the left and over to the back country trail register at the far end, making a right to stay on the Van Hoevenberg Trail. After about 300 feet you will come to the jct. for Avalanche Pass Trail (yellow trail).

Continue right on the Avalanche Pass trail, which will soon begin to start climbing. This trail can be wet and muddy during spring and heavy rainfall. Follow the trail to the top of the pass, with some rock scrambling and ladder climbing, and down to Avalanche Lake, which sits between Mount Colden on the left and Avalanche Mountain on the right. The views of Mount Colden and the Trap Dike are fantastic! 

The trail crosses over the “Hitch-up Matildas” (the wooden catwalk bridges bolted to the sides of the cliffs) and continues another 0.5 miles to right side of Avalanche Lake. There is a designated campsite just off from a side trail here. From the end of the lake stay left, following the yellow trail around the east side of Lake Colden to the next jct. At 5.8 miles from the Loj now, you will be following the red Lake Colden Trail which goes left, to summit Mount Colden. From here, the summit is just 1.6 miles but climbs just about 2,000 feet. It is very steep, climbing up ladders to ascend cliffs, open rock face and boulders to the summit, which stands at 4,714 feet. 

From the summit you will have close up views of Colden’s neighboring peaks, Mount Marcy and Algonquin and surrounding high peaks along with the Flowed Lands, Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden down below. The summit it partially wooded, but still offers amazing views!

After taking in the views from the summit, you will continue on and take the L. Morgan Porter Trail to descend down over Colden’s false North Summit and continue for 1.4 miles to Lake Arnold. The descent is not as steep this way as returning the same route would have been, but it does descend steadily along a very rocky trail to the Lake. 

From the jct. at Lake Arnold, you will take a left and follow the (blue) marked trail for 1.5 miles, which descends to the jct. for Avalanche Lake (yellow) trail. Stay right here and follow the trail for about 1.1 miles back to Marcy Dam for the final 2.1 miles back to the parking lot at the Loj.

Total round trip is 13.5 miles and approximately 3,300 feet elevation gain.

Pack List

  • Water/Water Filter
  • Food
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Camera
  • Backpacking First Aid Kit
  • Headlamps and extra batteries
  • Extra Layers, Socks, Wind and Rain Shields
  • Microspikes (fall through spring)
  • Crampons (fall through spring)
  • Snowshoes (winter)
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray (spring and summer)
  • Snow gear and boots (winter and colder months)

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Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



13.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3300 Feet



Easy Parking

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4 months ago

Ten Star Hike!

One of my favorite hikes in the high peaks region!!! Avalanche Pass is like a different world!! The ascent up Colden has breathtaking views. There is literally something spectacular around every turn of this hike.

4 months ago

Added by Janet Thomas

Hi, I'm Janet! I am an avid outdoors enthusiast with a love for the Adirondack Mountains! You can find me outdoors in my free time doing epic, outdoorsy things with my adventurous little boy, from hiking mountains to mtn. biking and paddling all around New York!

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