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1. Heart Lake to Tabletop via Marcy Dam and Indian Falls

Map is of Marcy Dam to the summit of Tabletop Mountain

Trip In A Nutshell:

The fastest way in, up, and out is to start at Heart Lake and take the  Van Hoevenberg Trail blue (ADK #61, McM #147) all the way to the herd path, climb Tabletop, and return by the same route.  A much more interesting route, the route we chose, is to come in by the Van Hoevenberg Trail, but go on to Indian Falls before climbing Tabletop and enjoy that beautiful spot and perhaps have lunch there.  After climbing Tabletop take the beautiful Crossover Trail  YELLOW  (ADK #63, McM #148) which starts just above Indian Falls over to Mt Colden, (Optional climb of Colden), and return to Marcy Dam via Avalanche Camp blue (ADK #73, McM #145).  The trip with a climb of Mt Colden took 12 hours round trip from Heart Lake.  This allowed for plenty of peak viewing, photography, and rest.  Without Colden, figure 9 hours round trip.  

Note:  Photos of Marcy Dam, Indian Falls, and the Crossover Trail can be viewed in the photo section of the Mt Colden page.    

Herd Path to Tabletop:

Most guidebooks cite Tabletop as a difficult hike due to the numerous intertwining herd paths.  A number of these start at Indian Falls on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, but few ever make it to the summit, most fade out or go in circles.  Fortunately, we are able to verify (8/2001) that this situation has been remedied by the 46'ers.  From Indian Falls you need only hike a few minutes down the Van Hoevenberg Trail and you will see the start of a wide ski trail on your right (east side).  Look for an obvious swath cut in the woods with a substantial rock cairn at its start.  The cairn marks the start of a very clear trail to the summit of Tabletop.  


 The Van Hoevenberg Trail blue (ADK #61, McM #147) (ADK #61, McM #147) , the super-highway of Adirondack trails, is easy to moderate in difficulty.  From Heart Lake to Indian Falls is 4.4 miles.

The Crossover Trail  YELLOW  (ADK #63, McM #148), 0.9 miles, connects the Van Hoevenberg Trail (ADK #61, McM #147) at Indian Falls to the Avalanche Camp Trail blue (ADK #73, McM #145). This is a very easy and enjoyable downhill walk. 

 The short section of the Avalanche Camp Trail that connects uphill to the Mt. Colden Trail is a difficult 0.5 miles over very annoying rocky terrain. 

The ascent of Mt Colden from Lake Arnold on the  YELLOW  (ADK #74, McM #144) trail with return by the same route is rated strenuous.  One way it is 1.2 miles.  Elevation change is only about 900 feet.  We have hiked this route twice over 3 years and have found the trail consistently in good to excellent condition.  Occasional short, steep climbs of 10-20 feet pose no significant obstacle to the average hiker, and add some variety.  Footing is good to excellent.  This is one of the more enjoyable climbs in the Adirondacks.

Total distance from Heart Lake to the summit of Mt Colden is about 7.0 miles.  The return via the Avalanche Camp Trail instead of the Van Hoevenberg Trail will be less.  Overall, we consider the hike strenuous, due mainly to distance and the significant elevation change on the Van Hoevenberg and Colden trails.

Visit the Heart Lake trailhead.