Sunday, November 13, 2011

Street & Nye Mountains: 11/12/2011

Snow-dusted Street & Nye Mtns from Heart Lake, Nov 12, 2011 

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
View of snow-dusted Street & Nye Mountains from Heart Lake

It's probably fair to say that Street and Nye aren't climbed by anyone but aspiring 46ers. There's no maintained trail, and both peaks have wooded, viewless summits. Nye isn't even a "real" 46er: its summit is now listed at just 3895'. But a beautiful, crisp pre-winter day not only made the hike interesting, it gave us some great unexpected views to boot.

Pre-dawn departure from Bolton Landing

Hiking at this time of year poses some real difficulties: shortened daylight hours, cold temperatures, trails that are often more ice than snow. With those challenges in mind, Beth and I had been holding Street and Nye as a late fall hiking option since its relatively short distance (just 8 miles round trip) made it easily doable in a short day.

Street and Nye viewed from Adirondack Loj Road

A 6:30am departure from Bolton Landing got us to Adirondack Loj by 8. Driving up, the lower elevations were mostly bare of snow, but many of the higher peaks had a visible coating of snow from the front that came through the previous day.

Wright and Algonquin viewed from Heart Lake

The route to Street and Nye begins at Adirondack Loj, and passes along Heart Lake's shoreline with spectacular views of the MacIntyre Range (Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois) towering above. The peaks were frosted over with snow and ice, as was the ground even at our relatively low elevation.

Beth on the approach to Street and Nye

Within a mile or so, the route fords Indian Pass Brook (not a good time of year for wet feet) before beginning to climb.

Indian Pass Brook must be rock-hopped

On the other side, the trail roughly follows a tributary of Indian Pass Brook, ascending relatively gradually for much of the way. Open, second growth hardwoods gradually gave way to spruce and hemlock as we gained elevation, and snow increased from a coating to roughly two inches.

Happy to be in winter conditions again

Street and Nye are infamous for the amount of blowdown in their upper elevations. Years ago, a confusing maze of herdpaths made route-finding so difficult that these were considered to be among the most difficult of the trail-less peaks. More recently, the Adirondack 46ers have designated and improved a single route up the two peaks, which has not only made the climb easier but has also prevented damage to the forest from the multiple herd paths that existed previously.

Negotiating blowdown on Nye

Eventually, on a high plateau between the two peaks, a junction is reached. Nye lies to the right, just a 10 minute hike away. Street lies to the left, about twice as far. The junction is marked by a cairn and an "N" (Nye) and an "S" (Street) carved into a tree. We headed for Nye first.

The MacIntyre Range from high up on Nye

We had gotten occassional glimpses of surrounding peaks through the trees all day, but once we were high up on Nye, a surprising number of good views opened up from rock outcrops and open areas of blowdown - not bad for a supposedly viewless peak.

View of Street from Nye

We reached Nye's summit quickly, marked by a simple disk 10' up a tree. As advertised, it was wooded and viewless, but crisp blue skies and a beautiful coat of snow more than made up for the lack of views.

Beth at Nye's undramatic summit

We doubled-back to the N-S junction, and headed for Street. Again, views opened up towards the MacIntyre Range and other surrounding peaks. The route ascends Street's shaded, north side which felt more like a refrigerator today.

Cold woods on Street's north side

Like Nye, Street's summit is wooded and essentially viewless. A short distance from the summit, however, are good views towards the distant Santanoni Range as well as the MacIntyres closer at hand.

View towards the Santanonis (far distance on right)

Mount Marcy peaking up to the left of and behind Algonquin

Distant peaks framed by snow encrusted spruce on Street

In my element

Street is Beth's 40th peak towards her 46. Of the six remaining peaks, it's possible that we might knock one or two off this winter. Even if we don't do that, she's in good shape to easily finish next summer.

More views as we descend from Street

We weren't the only ones hiking Street and Nye today. There were two parties of two ahead of us, which made the route easier to follow (the couple inches of snow tended to cover up the path at times). There were two more parties behind us as well. The fact that a dozen or so hikers climbed these two relatively obscure peaks on a November day is evidence of the popularity (for better or worse) of pursuing the 46 High Peaks these days.

Back at the N-S junction, packs from another party hang on the trees

By the time we descended to lower elevation, some of the snow had melted off. But even back at Heart Lake much of the snow that we had started the day with remained, evidence that winter is not far off. We made it back to the trailhead in roughly 6 and a half hours round trip. Blue skies, crisp air and a coating of snow proved that peaks often considered to be ho-hum can make for a great hike.

Easy to follow path at low elevation late in the day

Street Mountain, elevation 4134', order of height: 32. Nye Mountain, elevation 3895', order of height: 45. First ascent for both peaks: Herb Clark, Bob and George Marshall, 1921.


  1. Nice trip report. Thanks for posting.

  2. Great story and great photographs! The first time I climbed these 2, we got lost descending. We ended up following a creek to Indian Pass Brook.

  3. Great story and photos. Looks like a wonderful winter hike. Thanks!

  4. Thanks all. Peter, as you probably know S&N were notorious for hikers getting lost. Last I climbed them (20 yrs ago) the route was a maze and although I didn't get lost, I ended up descending from Street via a different route than I had intended.