Rocky Peak is the 20th highest mountain in New York State, with an elevation of 4,420 ft. The length of the climb depends on which trail you take. From New Russia it is approximately 13.4 miles round trip, We went in from the Route 73 trailhead via the washbowl and it was 6.5 miles round trip, with 3527’ of elevation gain, plus the 700’ on the return to the trail junction with Giant Mountain for a total of 4227. This was a huge leg day for me, plus I had company.
My friend Justin and I signed in at the trail register at 6 am under headlamp. The trail takes on a completely new perspective in this regard. The first part of this trail, up to the washbowl is sparsely marked and can be difficult to follow under headlamp, just need to pay attention to rock scraps and dirt. The switchbacks help with the 650 plus feet in elevation gain in just over half a mile. While climbing this peak, there are many spectacular views all along the way, the first being the ledge just before the washbowl. This view prominently presents the Great Range along with the northeastern side of the Dix Range.
From the washbowl up it is a steady climb with several steep sections. The trail offers a variety of obstacles to navigate, boulder fields, switchbacks, ledges, slabs, blowdowns, and mud.
We arrived at the junction with the Rocky Peak ridge trail at 11 am. After a quick break, We were on our way to Rocky Peak. The trail drops around 700’ in .3 miles to the col. I probably spent more energy avoiding a fall than I did climbing up out of the col on our return. The drop in elevation can be discouraging, but the trail from the col up to the summit of Rocky Peak is a pleasant climb gaining around 600’ in just over a half-mile.
We arrived at Rocky Peak at 1:30 pm. The summit was not what I had expected. Based on photos from other hikers. I was led to believe the summit was rocky and had a large cairn on it. While there were cairns and it was somewhat open and rocky, it just was not what I had expected. It was a pleasant surprise. The summit has a long, bare ridge, a result of a forest fire in the region in 1913.
We laid down and relaxed in the sun on the summit enjoying the views, and even came close to falling asleep. After about a half-hour, we started our trek back. The climb back up to the trail junction was easier than the climb down. I took a quick break at the junction, while Justin tagged Giant (I previously had climbed Giant before). We made our way back down to the car arriving at 7 pm.
We would have several people pass us today as we made our way up the mountain, we did not mind, we were hiking our own hike. It is nice to meet new people, especially those who enjoy and respect the great outdoors. One of those who passed us was a 78-year-old man; I believe he also mentioned this was his 104th time climbing this mountain, and he was number eight or nine on the Adirondack 46er Grid list. Respect.
7.2 miles round trip
4227’ elevation gain
Start time 6 am
End time at 7 pm