The Adirondacks’ Trap Dike, One of America’s Toughest Hikes


Mt. Colden Trap Dyke view

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 (sometimes misspelled as “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 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.


Francis Tapon
Francis Tapon is half Chilean and half French and he was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He's been to over 80 countries, but he keeps coming back to this magical city because he loves earthquakes.

He spoke Spanish at home, French at school, and English everywhere else. He can get by in Portuguese and Italian, barely survive in Russian and Slovenian, and speak a few other languages.

Francis has an MBA from Harvard Business School and co-founded a successful Silicon Valley company that did robotic vision. He left his technology life to walk across America four times. He has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which "features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors."

Francis has written a couple of travel books including The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He also produced a 77-minute video about his CDT Yo-Yo.
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