Hiking Gray Peak and Mount Skylight

Happy fall! I celebrated the first weekend of fall by hiking, of course! My friend Jenna and I drove up to the ADK Loj to hike Gray Peak and Mount Skylight. We got an early start because it is a long hike! We left the Exit 9 Park and Ride at 4:35AM and got to the Loj around 7, and were on the trail by 7:15. We were at Marcy Dam by 8:05AM.

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We got the the Phelps/Marcy and Avalanche Lake junction and went right to take the Avalanche Lake trail. At 8:40 we got to the junction for Lake Arnold and took a left. We were going to go past Lake Arnold and up to Lake Tear of the Clouds to get to Gray Peak.

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The trail through here was really pretty! There were some bogs we crossed between Mt. Colden and Gray which were interesting. Thankfully there were planks to cross! Eventually we came to the junction for Lake Tear of the Clouds, the highest point of the Hudson River and also where the herd path for Gray Peak picks up. We arrived there at 10:53 AM.

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We got there around 11:45  and saw the cairn that marked the herd path to Gray. We realized that it crossed over the stream and started up again on the other side, it’s unmarked but pretty obvious.

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We started climbing Gray at about 11:45AM. The first part of the herd path was a bit tricky. There was a huge cliff with a pretty big drop off–if you were tall and had long legs it would be easy. But neither one of us has those-so we skirted around to the left of the cliff and found our way down pretty easily. Anyone who says Gray has no views is lying!

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We could see Skylight–our next destination!

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We stopped at a lookout a little bit from the summit to have a snack.

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Can’t forget about the summit pic. Got there around 12:20.

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A great view of Marcy and Skylight from our snack spot. After about 10 minutes we headed back down the herd path to Lake Tear of the Clouds.

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We got back down to the lake at around 1:00 and started heading left at the cairn to get back on the marked trail to Skylight. At 1:12 we hit “Four Corners”, where there was a sign marking a trail to Marcy and a trail to Skylight.

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We followed the trail to the summit of Skylight, which was steep and rocky, and after hiking almost 10 miles already, I was tired. But, once we got up top at 1:37, I knew it was all worth it.

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I could have stayed up here all day! Skylight was amazing. And it was also my 30th high peak! I can’t believe I’m at 30 peaks!

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Jenna and I stayed on the summit for maybe 10 minutes and had the entire thing to ourselves. I could have stayed forever, but we had a loooong way to go back to the car. Eight miles of hiking, back the way we came. And we wanted to get out before dark! We knew that there was a strong possibility that we would be hiking out with headlamps. Thankfully, we were back at the trail register by 6:30PM and it was still daylight.

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What a long, long, day. Skylight was one of my favorite summits so far, but it just takes so long to get there. I would highly recommend this as an overnight. Most of the people we saw were staying at lean-tos and I must admit I was a bit jealous. But, I guess that makes us more badass for completing this hike in day trip.

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Gray Peak and Mount Skylight 
Distance 17.7 mi RT
Time: 11.5 hours
Total Elevation Gain: 4,343′

Gear used Osprey Sirrus Daypack, Kelty trekking poles, Smartwool socks, Under Armor Crops, Icebreaker merino wool base layer top, Keen Durand hiking boots, 3L Platypus bladder, 1L Nalgene

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Beautiful pictures, Jen! I haven’t been up that way yet, but am really looking forward to it. You didn’t mention the floating bridges I keep hearing about near the Feldspar lean-to. Have they been repaired? There were no dicey crossings?
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