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Old 08-02-2015, 06:58 PM   #1
prattley
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Dix range backpacking route

http://www.everytrail.com/guide/the-dix-range

Any thoughts on this route? Planning on maybe coming up and doing a 2-3 day trek along these lines within the next month or so. Not sure how up-do-date the directions are. We are experiences backpackers but this would be our first time on non-marked trails.

Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 08-02-2015, 07:51 PM   #2
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The details seem accurate, but I wouldn't carry my overnight gear up the mountains, roo much work and it's not good for the mountain. Instead, I would haul my gear into one of the three lean-tos in the area and then day-trip the peaks. there's also no water on the peaks.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:24 PM   #3
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Good point. Trying to figure out how that would logistically be possible though given the way it's laid out. Do you think there is a lean-to (or any location really) within this mix where we could set up, leave gear and do day hikes of the peaks without major back-tracking?
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Old 08-03-2015, 01:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by prattley View Post
http://www.everytrail.com/guide/the-dix-range

Any thoughts on this route? Planning on maybe coming up and doing a 2-3 day trek along these lines within the next month or so. Not sure how up-do-date the directions are. We are experiences backpackers but this would be our first time on non-marked trails.

Any advice would be appreciated!
I did this exact trail as my first hike ever back in late June. 3 days, 2 nights (in Friday around 1PM, out Sunday by 9AM). That route is very accurate. The hike is exceptionally tough with a heavy pack as mine was around 45 with water.

To be perfectly honest, the trail was pretty hard to follow correctly at the start. Make sure you start south of the North Fork Boquet and don't cross it until the S curve. Once you cross around that location (we couldn't rock hop across anyway because of rain), it's easy to find the trail. That route says keep your eyes out for a campsite, and there were 1-2 sites that looked good. Your best bet is to wait until a major crossing of the South Fork Boquet that has a marked illegal campsite before the crossing. Once across it's a 5 minute walk to a very nice marked legal site. If you start early in the day there is a great camping spot at the base of the East Dix slide about 45 minutes from the spot I previously mentioned (you will end up jumping back and forth across the river, and following a tough to follow trail). This trail was not well traveled and we didn't see anyone until the peak of East Dix.

My next piece of advice is to be in shape for a big day 2 where you hit all the peaks. DO NOT go up the first slide you see. It took me 3+ hours where I thought I would turn back multiple times and came close to stepping on many wet spots that would have sent me for a long painful trip down. Stay on the herd path for 5-10 minutes until you see the second slide. Apparently that one is a straight shot up! The base of the East Dix slide is your last shot at water until you're done with the peaks. Because of our slide mistake, I drank probably 25% of my water before i got to the peak. We did not attempt the out and back on Macomb because we knew we would run out of water.

The hike down from Dix is LONG. We stayed near the Boquet River Lean To on night two for an easy walk out on Sunday morning.

Overall if you don't want crowds and want a little adventure, this trail was awesome. The walk back on the road to the car is a little anti-climatic, so you could always start off your day by parking there and walking to the trail head from there.

With that being said, this was my first and only overnight backpacking trip, so take what I said with a grain of salt. I'm planning a Seward trip this month and can't imagine it being harder than this trail was as we'll be able to take day packs to the peaks after setting up camp.
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Old 08-03-2015, 03:09 PM   #5
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I did this exact trail as my first hike ever back in late June. 3 days, 2 nights (in Friday around 1PM, out Sunday by 9AM). That route is very accurate. The hike is exceptionally tough with a heavy pack as mine was around 45 with water.

To be perfectly honest, the trail was pretty hard to follow correctly at the start. Make sure you start south of the North Fork Boquet and don't cross it until the S curve. Once you cross around that location (we couldn't rock hop across anyway because of rain), it's easy to find the trail. That route says keep your eyes out for a campsite, and there were 1-2 sites that looked good. Your best bet is to wait until a major crossing of the South Fork Boquet that has a marked illegal campsite before the crossing. Once across it's a 5 minute walk to a very nice marked legal site. If you start early in the day there is a great camping spot at the base of the East Dix slide about 45 minutes from the spot I previously mentioned (you will end up jumping back and forth across the river, and following a tough to follow trail). This trail was not well traveled and we didn't see anyone until the peak of East Dix.

My next piece of advice is to be in shape for a big day 2 where you hit all the peaks. DO NOT go up the first slide you see. It took me 3+ hours where I thought I would turn back multiple times and came close to stepping on many wet spots that would have sent me for a long painful trip down. Stay on the herd path for 5-10 minutes until you see the second slide. Apparently that one is a straight shot up! The base of the East Dix slide is your last shot at water until you're done with the peaks. Because of our slide mistake, I drank probably 25% of my water before i got to the peak. We did not attempt the out and back on Macomb because we knew we would run out of water.

The hike down from Dix is LONG. We stayed near the Boquet River Lean To on night two for an easy walk out on Sunday morning.

Overall if you don't want crowds and want a little adventure, this trail was awesome. The walk back on the road to the car is a little anti-climatic, so you could always start off your day by parking there and walking to the trail head from there.

With that being said, this was my first and only overnight backpacking trip, so take what I said with a grain of salt. I'm planning a Seward trip this month and can't imagine it being harder than this trail was as we'll be able to take day packs to the peaks after setting up camp.

Thanks for this great advice! Also very curious to know about the Seward trip you're planning... Day packs to the peaks sounds very tempting and is ultimately what we were hoping to be able to do if possible.
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Old 08-03-2015, 03:31 PM   #6
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I asked last year, and haven't gotten to try it yet, but there is a way to get to the north fork directly from the Round Pond trail. It may not save a ton of time but would certainly be more interesting than the road walk. Hope it helps, would like to read that trip report...
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:02 PM   #7
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It's my favorite way to tour the Dix Range. I've done it four times, all as day-hikes in summer, fall, and winter.

Here's a comparison of distance and ascent for a traverse versus a loop.

Traverse
  • Round Pond trail-head to Hwy 73: 16.4 mi, 5800 ft.
  • Hwy 73 to Round Pond trail-head: 16.4 mi, 6100 ft.

Loop
  • Elk Lake trail-head: 15.0 mi, 5450 ft.
  • Clear Pond trail-head (winter): Add about 4 miles and 150 feet.

- Distance and ascents derived from tracklogs and measured using Google Earth.
- Hwy 73 = at the stone bridge over North Fork Bouquet River.

If you start from 73, you can follow the north or south side of the river. Most people use the south side and that's why the unmarked hunter's trail is much more evident. About a mile west of the highway you'll reach a crossing point that is not easy to spot (and not easy to cross if the river is running high). If you pass the crossing and continue west (I've done this) you'll reach a very steep hill where the path becomes faint and eventually heads south; you need to do some navigation and bushwhacking with this option in order to head west. Most people cross the river and follow the distinct path west. 200 yards past the crossing you'll meet the trail running along the north side of the river. They join and become one trail heading west. There are other junctions so be sure you have a map and compass or GPS to keep yourself oriented.

Here are descriptions and photos for three of my visits. Links to more photos can be found at the bottom of each blog post. Use the photos to memorize the appearance of various landmarks along the way.

July. Followed south-side path.
http://lookingforviews.blogspot.ca/2...013-07-26.html

February. Started from Round Pond.
http://lookingforviews.blogspot.ca/2...014-02-23.html

May. Followed north-side path.
http://lookingforviews.blogspot.ca/2...014-05-29.html

At the base of Grace (formerly known as East Dix), you can follow the path to the col between Grace and South Dix. It ascends along a brook and when it crosses the brook, that's your signal to get water. There's no reliable source of water beyond that point (there may be water on Hough's southern side). Within 100 yards of the crossing you will have the opportunity to step out on the Great Slide. You can follow it up (some bushwhacking involved near the top) or simply continue ascending the trail. Once you intersect the trail between Grace and South Dix, you'll be on the "highway". Outside of winter, the unmarked trail from Grace to South Dix, Macomb, Hough, and Dix is very obvious (and junctions are marked with cairns).

Good luck and have fun!

Last edited by Trail Boss; 08-03-2015 at 04:21 PM..
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:00 PM   #8
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OR... you could go into Slide Brook or Lillian Brook lean-to and do the "standard" way up the Dixes with day packs: Macomb, over to Carson (south Dix), Grace and back to Carson, up Hough to Dix, down dix and back to camp. Great views and you don't have you haul all your stuff.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by prattley View Post
Thanks for this great advice! Also very curious to know about the Seward trip you're planning... Day packs to the peaks sounds very tempting and is ultimately what we were hoping to be able to do if possible.

http://www.everytrail.com/guide/the-...ns-and-seymour

Plan is to set up camp around one of the two lean-to spots (point 2 - Blueberry or Ward Brook), and use a day pack from there.

We'll probably go out and back to Seymour first thing in the morning, eat breakfast, then do the out and back to Emmons.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:59 PM   #10
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It's my favorite way to tour the Dix Range. I've done it four times, all as day-hikes in summer, fall, and winter.

Here's a comparison of distance and ascent for a traverse versus a loop.

Traverse
  • Round Pond trail-head to Hwy 73: 16.4 mi, 5800 ft.
  • Hwy 73 to Round Pond trail-head: 16.4 mi, 6100 ft.

Loop
  • Elk Lake trail-head: 15.0 mi, 5450 ft.
  • Clear Pond trail-head (winter): Add about 4 miles and 150 feet.

- Distance and ascents derived from tracklogs and measured using Google Earth.
- Hwy 73 = at the stone bridge over North Fork Bouquet River.

If you start from 73, you can follow the north or south side of the river. Most people use the south side and that's why the unmarked hunter's trail is much more evident. About a mile west of the highway you'll reach a crossing point that is not easy to spot (and not easy to cross if the river is running high). If you pass the crossing and continue west (I've done this) you'll reach a very steep hill where the path becomes faint and eventually heads south; you need to do some navigation and bushwhacking with this option in order to head west. Most people cross the river and follow the distinct path west. 200 yards past the crossing you'll meet the trail running along the north side of the river. They join and become one trail heading west. There are other junctions so be sure you have a map and compass or GPS to keep yourself oriented.

Here are descriptions and photos for three of my visits. Links to more photos can be found at the bottom of each blog post. Use the photos to memorize the appearance of various landmarks along the way.

July. Followed south-side path.
http://lookingforviews.blogspot.ca/2...013-07-26.html

February. Started from Round Pond.
http://lookingforviews.blogspot.ca/2...014-02-23.html

May. Followed north-side path.
http://lookingforviews.blogspot.ca/2...014-05-29.html

At the base of Grace (formerly known as East Dix), you can follow the path to the col between Grace and South Dix. It ascends along a brook and when it crosses the brook, that's your signal to get water. There's no reliable source of water beyond that point (there may be water on Hough's southern side). Within 100 yards of the crossing you will have the opportunity to step out on the Great Slide. You can follow it up (some bushwhacking involved near the top) or simply continue ascending the trail. Once you intersect the trail between Grace and South Dix, you'll be on the "highway". Outside of winter, the unmarked trail from Grace to South Dix, Macomb, Hough, and Dix is very obvious (and junctions are marked with cairns).

Good luck and have fun!
Seeing this would have made my trip a little easier! Awesome photos and trip report.
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Old 08-03-2015, 08:53 PM   #11
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Seeing this would have made my trip a little easier! Awesome photos and trip report.
Thank you; glad you enjoyed it.


Here's some information for your trip to the Sewards and Seymour:

Seymour
There's one unmarked trail to Seymour and it starts a short distance east of the Ward Brook lean-to. There's not much to say about this trail other than it has one very steep section of bare rock and it goes over a false-summit. The summit is wooded but there's a good lookout nearby with a commanding view of the Cold River valley. Up and down the same way.

Seward Range has two unmarked trails.

Ward Brook
This route starts on Ward Brook Road (a.k.a. Ward Brook Truck Trail) at the bridge over the nameless brook that drains Seward's northern slope. The first third, up to a crossing at a waterfall on the nameless brook, is lovely. The middle third is moderately steep and often muddy. The final third is very steep and severely eroded. Not that it matters but it's my least favorite section of trail in the High Peaks.

Just before Seward's summit you'll encounter an 8-10 foot high cliff-band. Most people surmount it at its lower eastern end. The trail continues over Seward (there's water high on Seward's south side), descends through two cols, then rises up to Donaldson. Just before Donaldson's summit, at the base of steep section of rock, the Calkins Creek trail comes in from the west. The main trail continues to Donaldson whose summit is a table of rock on the east side of the trail. The trail continues along the length of Donaldson's muddy summit then descends for-ever to finally rise to the summit of Emmons which rewards you with no views. If you're camped at Blueberry or Ward Brook lean-to's, you have to backtrack the entire route.

Calkins Creek
This route starts on Calkins Creek road and ascends Calkins Creek (also called Caulkins Creek or Calkins Brook) and intersects the aforementioned trail near the summit of Donaldson. The trail leaves the road at a sharp bend where the road heads west. This intersection is a large clearing marked with a cairn and an old metal bucket; it's hard to miss. The trail heads east and follows the Calkins Brook for several hundred yards then crosses it and continues east veering away from the brook. There are a few muddy sections but, by and large, this route is in far better condition, and rises more moderately, than the route up Seward's northern slope. It crosses several small tributaries and then rises moderately until it ends near Donaldson. Turn right and up for Donaldson and Emmons; turn left and down for Seward.


I can't tell you much about camping in the area because I lean towards day-trips, starting from the trail-head at Coreys Road, to Seymour or the Sewards or all four in a day (which makes for a challenging day). Basically, Ward Brook lean-to is very close to the trail up Seymour. There are camping opportunities nearby. Blueberry is closer to the trail ascending Seward's northern slope. There are camp sites near Blueberry as well. Ward Brook lean-to has a picnic table. Camp-fires are allowed because the area is not in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness zone.

I've learned there is also a designated camp-site just south of where the Horse trail intersects Calkins Creek road. If you camp here there's less distance travelled with overnight gear (but you don't get to stay at a lean-to). Day-hikes to the Sewards via Calkins Creek trail on one day and to Seymour on the next are practical from this location. If you camp at either Blueberry or at Ward Brook lean-to, then the Calkins Creek trail is much less appealing owing to added distance.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 08-07-2015, 09:36 AM   #12
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So glad I found this forum. Thanks to everyone for the great advice and sharing of trip reports, photos, and info. All so helpful!
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Old 08-07-2015, 09:46 AM   #13
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I am also planning on investing in a GPS, this trek being the first one that I plan on using it for. Any recommendations for a starting point? At a minimum, I want it to be functional for getting us through our first un-marked trail trip.
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Old 08-07-2015, 10:03 PM   #14
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If you plan to hike the Dix Range as a loop from Elk Lake, IMHO, you don't need the aid of a GPS.

My first trip to the Dix Range was in the 80's. I had no information beyond the ADK Mtn Club's brief written description. No diagrams, no annotated maps, definitely no GPS, just the knowledge that "there be herd-paths" and I found them. I returned in 2010 and had no trouble following them (the path to Macomb had changed). Outside of winter, the paths are easy to follow.

Save your money and bring a map, compass, and the knowledge to use them. The latest ADK High Peaks map depicts unmarked trails. You will enjoy the experience of having to pay attention to your surroundings in order to maintain orientation. It's not the same as bushwhacking but the lack of markers and trail-signs will give you a teeny-tiny taste of what the early 46ers experienced.

If you feel you must have a GPSr, there are numerous GPS-related threads to be found everywhere (here, ADKhighpeaks forum, and especially vftt.org).
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:34 AM   #15
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If you plan to hike the Dix Range as a loop from Elk Lake, IMHO, you don't need the aid of a GPS.

My first trip to the Dix Range was in the 80's. I had no information beyond the ADK Mtn Club's brief written description. No diagrams, no annotated maps, definitely no GPS, just the knowledge that "there be herd-paths" and I found them. I returned in 2010 and had no trouble following them (the path to Macomb had changed). Outside of winter, the paths are easy to follow.

Save your money and bring a map, compass, and the knowledge to use them. The latest ADK High Peaks map depicts unmarked trails. You will enjoy the experience of having to pay attention to your surroundings in order to maintain orientation. It's not the same as bushwhacking but the lack of markers and trail-signs will give you a teeny-tiny taste of what the early 46ers experienced.

If you feel you must have a GPSr, there are numerous GPS-related threads to be found everywhere (here, ADKhighpeaks forum, and especially vftt.org).
Thanks for the advice. One detail to note, however, is that the plan is not to hike from Elk lake, but rather to start from 73 heading down along south fork boquet river, looping around to exit at Round Pond. Any other thoughts on this route would be appreciated!
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:52 PM   #16
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Now that the water level is low, the best first crossing of the north Fork is less than 1/2 mile from the road. This cuts off the rough section that stays on the south side of the river while also cutting some distance by not following the river as it bends to the south. So don't worry that you are heading away from the river as the trail crosses the outlet to Round Pond and comes to a high bank above "Shoebox Falls".

Also, to avoid the road walk back you can follow the trail along the east side of Round Pond but go past the campsite and continue along the east shore of Twin Pond and then follow the outlet which soon intersects with the herd path.
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Old 08-15-2015, 06:52 AM   #17
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Thanks!

Another question: Does anyone know the nearest place to 73 trailhead to pick up a bear canister?
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Old 08-15-2015, 08:34 AM   #18
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The Mountaineer in Keene Valley sells and rents bear canisters.
http://www.mountaineer.com/store-info/.
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:59 PM   #19
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Update here: So we went for it with this route last year and had an interesting experience. Got so confused in the first part of the trail with the river crossings that we actually ended up just wading up the river (it was pleasant) for a solid mile or so at one point until [luckily] catching the trail again. Set up camp shortly thereafter on night 1. On day two we made it to the base of the East Dix slide around midday and decided to give it a shot. About 3/4 of the way up it was just getting too steep for my girlfriend to continue (we both had something like 40lb packs on--and let's be honest, I wasn't exactly feeling too confident either). We tried to shuffle over to the herd path but just could not find it. We were thus e forced to retreat back down to the base. At this point it was late afternoon and a storm kicked in so we set up camp and had to spend night two at the base of the slide. Day three we skipped the slide and went around and up the path to summit East Dix. At last, a moment of glory. BUT, since we were already behind schedule and we needed to be out on day three, we decided to play it safe and trek back the way we came. We were not confident we could make it all the way around the loop plus the two mile hike back to our car in planned time.

Having said that, the plan is to go back next week to conquer the loop! I'm totally confident we can do it, but I have a new question: It seems as though many do this hike in a single day or as a 3-day trek--but what about doing it in two days and one night? I would like to try to start early on day 1, get around halfway through, then hike out on day two.

Has anyone out there done it this way? Or any thoughts in particular on how to do it or why NOT to do it? Would camping at the higher altitude be the an issue?

Thanks!
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Old 09-09-2016, 07:23 AM   #20
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Regarding the two day loop option, I think the penalty of carrying the backpack necessary for camping outweighs the stamina required to do the loop in one day (although I have done neither). This past July, we did part of the loop from 73 to Carson (South Dix) but were scared away by lightening strikes on Dix proper, so we retreated back the way we came. An advantage of this loop is that once you get to Dix, the rest of the way is by a marked trail and wouldn't be too difficult at night, once you got down the slide. Just get an early start.
By the way, in the original posting, there are some minor mistakes in the Everytrail link. Except for the trails up Dix, the rest are all herd paths; although easy to follow, they are unblazed.
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