1. Lake Road to Bypass Trail
2. Bypass Trail to Gill Brook Trail
3. Gill Brook Trail to junction with Colvin Trail
4. Mt Colvin Trail
5. Blake Peak Trail
Very good to outstanding views of the Great Range and Nippletop from Colvin. No apparent views from Blake, or if there was a path to a view we couldn't find it. See how Colvin stacks up against the rest of the High Peaks at our View Rankings.
The AMR is private land open for the public's use through agreement with the State of New York. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules for hiking on AMR land at the AMR page.
Water ought not to be a problem on this trip if you are packing a hydration unit, an essential piece of gear in the Adirondacks. Your last water will be on the Gill Brook Trail at about the point where you cross the well-marked boundary line of the AMR on the Gill Brook Trail. This is the only stream that crosses your trail once you leave Lake Road, so you can't miss it and it runs in dry years as well as wet years. Whether or not you take the Gill Brook Trail all the way from Lake Road or you take the Bypass Trail you will cross this brook.
Total Distance Segment Distance | Distances (in miles):
DEC Parking to the Gate and trailhead sign-in 0.77 0.77
Lake Road to Bypass Trail 3.34 2.57
Bypass Trail to intersection with Gill Brook Trail 3.87 0.53
GBT to Elk Pass fork 5.10 1.23
Colvin Summit 5.89 0.79
Blake Summit 6.92 1.03
Round Trip 13.84
Trailhead Info For This Ascent:
Use DEC parking on Rt. 73, 0.5 miles south of the main entrance to the Ausable Club. From the parking lot you walk 0.9 mi. (seems like a lot less) through the Ausable Club's manicured grounds to the trailhead sign-in shack and, just beyond it, the Gate which is the entry point into the forest (AMR). Once at the Gate you have two basic choices of how to continue from there. These are covered below.
Good Options & Notes:
You might want to also see the Ausable Club page before reading this. The obvious and easiest way to get from the Gate to the Bypass Trail (ADK #25, McM #83) is to follow Lake Road about 2.6 miles to the start of the Bypass Trail. Lake Road is a hard-packed, very well maintained dirt road that runs from The Gate to the Boathouse on Lower Ausable Lake. This road is the fastest and most direct route to any of the trails heading to Dial, Nipple Top, or the Colvin Range. These trails branch off from Lake Road and are very well marked by the Ausable Club staff. We have hiked the Lake Road a dozen or so times and look at it sort of as an attractive walk on a country lane, but to be fair, it is also derided by at least one guidebook for not being a real trail. Let's face it, we'd rather be hiking on a trail than a two-lane dirt road. It's your choice as to how much time you want to spend getting to the real hiking, but other options such as East River Trail below, while more beautiful, add time.
Lake Road Option (ADK #25, McM n/l): From the Gate follow the Lake Road 2.1 miles. You will see the start of Gill Brook Trail on your left, but don't take it. Instead, continue on the Lake Road about a 0.4 mile. Although the majority of hikers take Gill Brook Trail, we recommend a much better maintained route called the Bypass Trail, a little further up Lake Road. Bypass Trail (ADK #25, McM #83) is shown on both the McMartin map and the ADK map, but it is only assigned a trail number on the McMartin map and the new 2003 ADK map. While it adds a bit of additional walking, it is considerably faster and easier because it makes more use of Lake Road and it is in excellent condition.
East River Trail Option (ADK #26, McM #78) : The advantage ERT has over Lake Road is that it is a trail and not a road. It affords a few nice views of the flumes of the Ausable River. Note, however, that you will add some time to the hike by taking this route. After passing through the Gate look for a right turn at most a quarter mile straight ahead. Stay on ERT past the flumes to the Crossover Trail that connects ERT to Lake Road. It cuts straight East for 2,300 ft. to the Lake Rd. Turn right onto Lake Rd. and walk about 200 ft to Gill Brook Trail, but as noted above, continue past the GBT to the Bypass Trail (ADK n/l, McM #83) and follow it to Gill Brook Trail further up the mountain.
Indian Head Option (ADK #39, McM #85): This is a detour that you might consider on the way to Mt Colvin. It is interesting and difficult. It adds more than an hour, but is worthwhile if you can work it in to your day. Follow Lake Road from the Gate almost to the Boathouse. Lake Road dead-ends at the Boathouse. Just before arriving at the Boathouse, you will plainly see the sign for the Indian Head Trail on your left. It is short, but very steep with a number of switchbacks. It affords excellent views of the lake and neighboring Sawteeth as it climbs the cliffs above the lake. You can take it to Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs (ADK #38 & #30, McM #85 & #86). It eventually intersects Gill Brook Trail at about 2800 ft. elev. (If you want to see Indian Head without the steep climb, you can also access it from Gill Brook Trail. You will find the trail to Indian Head off GBT shortly after Bypass Trail flows into GBT. In fact, here's the signpost.
Colvin and Blake are a good day-hike that is not very demanding, but you may want to camp if it is part of a longer hike such as to the Elk Lake trailhead via the entire Colvin Range. To camp, first, you must ensure you are off AMR land upon which camping is verboten. Be assured that the Ausable Club's people do make the rounds. There are several decent campsites off AMR along the Gill Brook Trail. You will know when you leave AMR because its boundaries are very well posted by both the Ausable Club and DEC. The first campsite which is a DEC site will occur on your right about 10 to 15 minutes after leaving AMR. Water is not far away on the opposite side of the trail. In this general area, also, there is space for a few tents down at Gill Brook itself. Don't look for something idyllic. The aforementioned DEC campsite will hold 2 tents well; four tents if you don't mind discomfort on sloping ground.
Trip in a Nutshell:
From the DEC parking lot on Rte. 73 below the Ausable Club entrance, follow the dirt road to the Gate at the edge of the Ausable Club's grounds. Enter AMR land here. Follow the Lake Road (ADK #25) from the Gate up the Ausable Valley to the RED Bypass Trail (McM #83) which connects you to the RED Gill Brook Trail (ADK #40, McM 82). Follow the Gill Brook Trail to its intersection with the Colvin and Blake Trail RED (ADK #40, McM #87). Take the Colvin and Blake Trail to the consecutive summits of Colvin and Blake. Figure about 4-5 hr. from car to summit of Colvin, then a short hour to reach Blake's summit. Worthwhile detours to Fairy Ladder Falls, Fish Hawk Cliffs, or Indian Head are possible and recommended, but allow about one additional hour for each. All AMR trails are marked with RED Adirondack Trail Improvement Society (ATIS) markers. This hike was taken in the summer of 2000, then we passed by again in 2001 to check on whether the hurricane damage had been fully cleaned up. It had.
Best Tip for Colvin & Blake:
Don't ignore this tip! Use the Bypass Trail instead of Gill Brook Trail to get from the Lake Road to the junction of Gill Brook Trail and Indian Head Trail.
Colvin and Blake are a good day hike for the average hiker. The Lake Road is a very easy hike over a hard dirt road.
The next segment, the Bypass Trail, is in my opinion, the most perfect trail in the entire Adirondacks. As such it provides excellent trail surface and a moderate climb to its intersection with Gill Brook Trail. The Bypass Trail is much preferable to its alternative, the lower section of Gill Brook Trail, for those wanting to make good time over much better terrain. The upper segment of Gill Brook Trail, which commences where the Bypass Trail joins the Gill Brook Trail is an easy to moderate walk up to where you will leave it to begin the Colvin Mtn. summit trail.