On October 29, 2012, when most New Yorkers were staying home and bracing themselves during Hurricane Sandy, I decided to go hiking in New York's Adirondacks. And not just to do a leisurely stroll, but rather to take on one of America's toughest hike: the Trap Dike by Mt. Colden.

What is the Trap Dike by Mt. Colden?

The Trap Dike (Brits write "Dyke") is an off-trail way to hike/climb from Avalanche Lake to the summit of Mt. Colden. It requires minor climbing. Although climbing gear and rope is not required, it is quite steep and exposed.

Video of the Trap Dike

How long does it take to hike the Trap Dike?

Assuming you're starting from the Adirondak Loj (i.e., the nearest parking lot), then you should expect that the whole loop (including the Trap Dike portion) should take 7 to 11 hours. If it's raining or there's a tropical storm while you're hiking (like there was in my case), then you should expect the slick, slippery rock to slow you down. The tough part of the hike (the Trap Dike to the summit of Mt. Colden) takes 2-3 hours. The rest of the hike is straightforward hiking.

Do you need rope to hike the Trap Dike?

Only if:

  • You want to be extra safe.
  • It's wet.
  • You're hiking with someone who is not confident about his/her climbing/scrambling abilities.
  • You get vertigo.
I don't think rope is necessary, but it can't hurt.

Where can I find a map of the Trap Dike?

The "You are here" is pointing to the Adirondak Loj, which is next to Heart Lake and is near the start of the trail. Mouse over the map for a close up. Or download the map.




Mt. Colden Trap Dyke view

Above: You'll see the crux of the hike, the waterfall, in the distance.

Mt. Colden Trap Dike view

Above: Follow the waterfall up through the dike. Just don't do it during a tropical storm.

How do you get to the Trap Dike

First, you have to get to the Adirondacks in New York.

Second, drive to the Adirondak Loj and pay their $10 parking fee (it can be done after hours at a self-registration station).

Third, hike toward Marcy Dam. And eventually get to the southwest corner of Avalanche Lake.

Below: The map that shows where Avalanche Lake is. The entrance to the Trap Dike is directly south of the "A" on the map. You'll see it bearing southeast (a bit more east than south). To get to the Trap Dyke's entrance, you'll need to hike to the southwest corner of Avalanche Lake, then bushwhack along the coast for about 10 minutes. There will be no signs indicating that you are at the entrance of the Trap Dike, but it's pretty obvious since it's the only sensible way to go southeast.

View Larger Map

Learn more about my book, Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America.

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