MacNaughton is the forty-third highest peak in the Adirondacks but is not one of the original 46 as defined by the ADK 46ers. It was the one peak that was raised to 4000 feet by the 1953 USGS map. Actually, it is about as close as one can come to being a 4000 ft as if one take the highest contour on this metric map and convert it over to feet it is actually less that 4000. The peak is actually higher than that contour and a GPS reading from the peak does bounce between 3990 and 4040 feet peak which to me means it is 4000+. There is a spot height on the peak as well that is below 4000 but this is on the lower of the two peaks.
That aside the access to the peak is to say in no uncertain terms is brutal. There is no heardpath, per say, and the area is covered with blowdown which has only gotten worse since Hurricane Floyd in 1998. Since it is not one of the 46 I can’t see the 46ers, DEC AMC of anyone doing any work on it either.
As there is no clear heardpath I can only give you my suggested route, which is to head into Wallface Ponds and then from the middle pond head in on a SE compass line until the summit ridge is met. There is not much to see on top but one can see the Santanoni Mountains and the backside of Algonquin and Iroquois and Marshal since the recent blowdown has cleared the view. There was a summit register but I imagine the 46ers or DEC has taken it down and replaced it with a sign.
It is a rough climb perhaps the hardest of any of the 4000+ because of the bushwhack, but the seclusion and beauty of Wallface Ponds make it quite worthwhile. This is the one climb that truly requires map and compass skills since it is quite easy to go off course in this area.
Note: On some USGS maps this peak is incorrectly named Wallface Peak which is quite near it and forms the dramatic wall overlooking Indian Pass.
The best way to get to Wallface Ponds is to head in from Adirondack Loj since the trail is easy and the parking is good.
One can also approach from almost anywhere else in the park but the walk in is greater.
No permits as of yet but one has to pay for parking at the Loj and make sure you sign in and out of the trail log. As well large groups 10+ will require a permit.
As of June 30th, 2001 all parties regardless of size in the Eastern Zone (High Peaks) of the Park must fill in and possess a self-issuing "trip ticket," which may be obtained at the trailhead. People have been fined and turned around for not having one and at the more popular trailheads the Ranger on duty will not let you pass without one. This can cause some delays in getting onto the trail.
When To Climb
Winter might be the easiest time since the normal snow cover will bury the blowdown.
General rules for the Adirondacks
1) No Camping above 4,000 feet
2) No camping withing 150 feet of a stream or other water source except at a designated campsite.
3) No soap or washing withing 150 feet of water
4) Pack it in Pack it out is the rule for garbage
5) Only dead and down wood can be used for fires and set in a proper fire pit. ( local etiquette is to use a stove and not a fire)
some good links
Adirondack Hiking Portal
What's in a Name
MacNaughton is name for James MacNaughton, the grandson of Archibald McIntyre of Adirondack Iron Works fame.
MacNaughton was the last private owner of Mt. Marcy. I believe he sold it to the State of New York early in the 20th centenary for 1$.