Joel's Hike in Pictures & Descriptions
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Joel's Trip In A Nutshell:
Hurricane Floyd struck the Adirondacks September, 1999. It devastated much of the route from the Mt. Adams parking area on Upper Works Rd. to Allen Mtn, although DEC has reopened the route. It will be several generations, if not 3 or 4, before the ground is healed and a young forest reaches a state of adolescence. Much, much longer than that will be required to attain maturity.
Most of the route you will follow before and after crossing the Opalescent River is private land. You have the right of passage, obtained by the state, only as long as you remain on the trail. Arrest is only one possible outcome of being nosy and leaving the trail. There are other less desirable outcomes.
For this hike, start at the parking lot at the East River Trailhead on the right side of Upper Works Rd. This trailhead is 9.3 miles north of the turn-off from Rte 28 onto Lower Works Rd. and 0.6 miles south of the north end of Upper Works Rd. DEC signs mark the trailhead at the far end of the big parking lot at the trailhead. You're at the right place if the sign tells you that this is also the route to Mt. Adams. During the first 0.9 mi. the trail markings are ample, but at 0.6 mi. you will encounter the first of many cleared areas that reflect hurricane damage. The suspension bridge across the Opalescent has been rebuilt so you can still get across the river without getting wet. From here onwards you will repeatedly cross clearings where the state or private owners have worked to clear blow-down and restore the trail. Trail marking in the clearing may be a bit sporadic. The terrain is generally flat.
Continue on the yellow Opalescent Trail (ADK #123, McM #42) 5.1 miles from the parking lot to a point about 0.2 miles beyond the confluence of Lower Twin Brook and the Opalescent River. Here the herd path to Allen branches off to the right. Up to this point it has been a level walk on DEC right-of-way across private land with the occasional mobile home or cabin visible through the trees.
Best Tips for Allen:
1. Allen is an overnight. You should not think otherwise.
2. The place to camp when hiking Allen is at Allen's base immediately after crossing Skylight Brook. It's a comfortable spot, you're well positioned to tackle the ascent the next morning, and you're almost at the halfway point in the hike.
The Herd Path to Allen from Upper Works :
The herd path to Allen is plainly marked. It has been significantly rerouted since Hurricane Floyd which did a job ripping up this whole area for hundreds of square miles of the southern High Peaks area. The path you will follow runs over private dirt roads as well as decent DEC trails. It winds through an area that has was forest before Floyd and has now been significantly cleared. Then it crosses onto state land at 1.8 mi. Thereafter, the path continues true to its pre-Floyd route all the way to Allen's summit.
Terrain is hilly, but there is more "up" than "down"; overall, as you work your way toward the base of Allen. The herd path rises about 600 feet from where it starts at its junction with the Opalescent River to where it reaches the base of Allen at Skylight Brook. The brook, when you reach it, is quite substantial. Do not mistake the 3 or 4 smaller brooks you cross en route for Skylight Brook. Also, the herd path does not pass within sight of the confluence of Allen Brook (which flows straight down Allen) and Skylight Brook.
You'll cross only Skylight Brook (which, as its name suggests, finds its source on the steep slopes of Mt. Skylight) a goodly distance downstream from the point at which Allen Brook joins it. Good campsites are located immediately upon crossing Skylight Brook. We suggest that if you are planning to make this an overnight that this is the spot to stop for the day. You can't miss the fact that once across Skylight Brook the climb up Allen begins rather abruptly.
About 30 min. after crossing Skylight Brook the herd path will join Allen Brook. Allen is flowing down from its source well up on Allen's slopes. Not far from where you crossed Skylight Brook, maybe 100 yd. or less, you may see a faint path coming in from your right. You DON'T want this path as it leads to private land. We encountered a group using that path, obviously illegally. According to them it was the original route up Allen that leaves the Opalescent River to follow Dudley Brook (metric maps) or the South Branch of the Opalescent River (English system maps).
Taken as a whole, this hike is very strenuous and considered by many to be the most strenuous one-peak day hike of the Forty-Six, although, that would be a point better argued around a campfire in the evening than here. The hike divides itself into three distinct segments.
1. The first 5.1 miles from Upper Works to the start of the herd path is moderate flat walking on good terrain.
2. Next, the herd path to the base of Allen is 2.2 miles of moderate hiking over hilly terrain.
3. The third segment, the ascent of Allen itself, starts at the crossing of Skylight Brook and covers 1.4 miles ending at the summit. This piece is strenuous but less strenuous than, say, Mt Redfield.
The elevation change from the Skylight Brook crossing to the summit via Allen Brook is 1950 feet. Allen Brook runs straight down the mountain, no kinks, no turns, just straight as an arrow right on the fall line. Don't let that discourage you, though, it is a beautiful path.
As Allen Brook reduces to a trickle at higher elevations you will start following a modest and wet slide, often muddy (see photo). As slides go, the Allen slide is not much to write home about, but at least you will be able to say you've climbed one. It is slippery in spots and particularly so in the Spring.
Allen has good views. You may even consider them excellent if you like at-a-distance panoramas of whole ranges of peaks, which Allen is rich in. You'll get nice photos of the entire Colvin Range, good slices of the Great Range, and even the Dixes. Panoramas #3 and #4 in the photos below are the best examples. To see how Allen stacks up, refer to our View Peak Ratings.
When you reach the summit, be sure to cross to the opposite side of the tiny summit clearing and follow a very short (50 ft) path down to a small overlook that provides nice views East and North. The panorama views on this page were taken there.
Trailhead Info for This Ascent:
Go to the Upper Works Page.
Water isn't much of a problem if you have a filter. Water is available fairly continuously from the Opalescent River until you leave the river and start on the herd path. From there on, you will cross streams occasionally and then follow Allen Brook most of the way to the summit.
From Allen Brook looking at Skylight. Taken by Ralph T. Keating
This shot to the East is a great testimony to the rugged diversity of the Adirondack Mtns.
More of Bartlett Ridge as we now look NE. The rise of Haystack looms behind the trees
This view to the SE shows the Marcy Stillwater center foreground.
A spectacular view of Gothics and the Range taken by Ralph T. Keating of the...
If you walk straight away from the canister on Allen, you'll almost immediately drop...
Almost at the summit of Allen, views of Redfield appear.
Not far above this point the herd path leaves the slide to the left and reaches a....
The view during the ascent is consistently to the rather vacant NW. Thus one sees...
One of our party on the Allen slide. You can see the steep incline, but, while very steep...
The trail crosses Skylight Brook at Allen's base, and immediately turns to...
More herd path. This section at the base of Allen was not damaged by Floyd.
This photo shows the herd path to Allen Mtn after both the 1999 hurricane and the....
The herd path starts at the Opalescent. You leave the fast & easy Opalescent River Trail
Hike Allen Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains. Allen is the 26th highest peak in New York State. Here you will find details on hiking Allen Mountain, Allen Mountain Maps, & Allen Mountain Trail Reports
1. East. River Trailhead on
Upper Works Road.to Twin Brooks
2. Herd path to base of Allen
3. Ascend to Allen summit; retrace
route to Upper Works