Number six in order of magnitude in the Adirondacks, Dix is both the highest mountain in the Dix Mountain Wilderness and the only one with a marked and maintained tail leading to the summit. Much more remote that the Great or MacIntyre range this area sees few crowds and gives one a good chance to appreciate the silent natural beauty of the Adirondacks.
As it is a mostly bald peak it offers some of the best views in the Adirondacks. One can see the entire Great Range to the NW and behind them the lesser peaks of the MacIntyre Range. To the NE is Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge, to the SW is Elk Lake and the E offers a good view of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.
One thing that stands out about this Dix besides it remoteness are the many and interesting ways to get to the top. There are as many as five trailheads all of which make for excellent two day hikes.
The peak should not be attempted as a day hike except in fine summer weather and with an early start as it is quite remote, not well traveled and quite a long distance from any trailhead.
That aside there are plenty of places to camp, and one can normally always find an empty lean-to in the area. As a matter of fact the only time I have every found a empty lean-to during the summer was during my trip to this area.
The two main starting points are from the N off Rt. 73 and from the S from Elk Lake.
To get to the Northern trailhead head S Rt. 73 from Keen about 1.1 miles past the parking area at Chapel Pond (3.1 mi N or the Junction of Rts 9 and 73) The Start is marked with a small DEC sing and there is a small parking area just N of the trailhead. The parking area is small 4-6 cars. If there is no room, do not try and force the issue. If you park even a little off side your car will be towed while you are gone. Instead head down to the S trailhead at Elk Lake. Remember to sign the register and put you car plate number next to it and the no of days you will be gone as the ranges use this when deciding to send out a search party or not.
From the trailhead the trail meets up with the old Dial trail after 2 miles of usually soggy ground. The trail then turns sharply to the S (left) and then proceeds up to the top of Dix slowly gaining altitude until a steep part abut 1 mile for the summit. At about the half way point there is a camping area with lean-tos that are usually empty.
To reach the S trailhead one must leave the Adirondack Motorway (interstate 87) at exit 29 (North Hudson) then go W for 4 miles on Blue Ridge Rd. following the signs for Newcomb. Turn R off Blue Ridge Rd. onto a gravel road marked with a sign for Elk Lake Lodge. At 5.2 miles there is a parking lot on the right just before the road drops down to Elk Lake.
Please remember that this part of the trail is on private land so please be respectful of this. As well this trailhead and all private land around Elk Lake is closed during the Big Game Season i.e. Hunting, Guns, Beer, Elmer Fudd’s running amok in the woods. The season is from the next to last Saturday in October to the first Sunday in December. Usually this is well posted at the parking lot but if unsure check at the clubhouse.
In winter the road is only usually plowed as far as clear pond about 3.3 mile from Blue Ridge Road. It might be possible to park here, never tried myself, this alone adds over 6 miles to your trip making for at least a 9 mile hike before you are allowed to camp.
The trail offers an interesting partial circular route up to the top of the mountain with two trails branching from it just near the end. One leads though Hunters Pass with great views the other up and over Beckhorn a small subsidiary peak, who’s name was given to it by Old Mountain Phelps due to its resemblance to the beckhorn on a blacksmith’s anvil. This route is steeper and offers more scrambling opportunities.
When on the trail keep an eye out for the several small brooks that are discolored by iron from the great Macomb slide of 1947.
There are also two excellent camping sites on the trail both with lean-tos one just after the private land the other about half way to the peak.
The frist part of the Trial from Elk Lake is on private land please observe these simple rules
1) No camping, fishing or hunting
2) No off-trail travel including rock climbing or bushwhacking, or use of non public trail
3) No boating or swimming, including portable boats brought by the public
4) NO DOGS or other pets are permitted unless on a leash
The trailhead is closed from the next to last Saturday in October to the first Sunday in December for hunting season.
When To Climb
The best time is in late summer as the area can be quite wet other times. Remeber this is normally a two day hike.
Both the N and S trails are excellent in winter but do require you to have very good back woods gear and an early start if one is attempting it from Elk Lake inorder to move off the private land to camp.
Same as for all Adirondack mountians.
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
Ebenezer Emmons named Dix in 1837 for John A. Dix, then Secretary of State for Governor Marcy and later governor himself. The first assent was in 1807 by a surveyor named Rykert who ran the line, which is now the southern boundary of Keen which passes right over the peak. Rykert’s original survey bolt was removed in 1873 by Verplanck Colvin and replaced by him with another larger one which can still be found at the summit.