The forty-first highest peak in the Adirondacks Dial has been long considered as one of the classic hikes in the area. The walk in is only moderate with only the occasional steep section. There are a number of things to look at while ascending and one gets a great view at the end. It is a rather high assent of well over 3000 feet and it can be steep in places but the trail is in excellent condition and the steep sections are short and far between.
One of the nice points of the peak is the number of other peaks one can get to while still keeping it a fairly easy day. Once one is on top of Dial one basically traverses a ridge to climb three other of the high peaks and with hardly any backtracking at all. This being said it is a long day hike and it is most likely better if you climb Colvin, Blake and Nippletop first, and then head down by way of Dial that way one is descending home all the way.
One part of the trail you cannot miss is the large fire that cut a swath across the flank Noonmark a few years ago. One really sees the devastation that is caused by careless camping and there will be plenty of signs posted on the way telling you this. One also gets some sort of idea of the magnificent views that one would of had in the late 19th century when most of the surrounding area was clear-cut.
From Dial on can see an almost complete panorama of the Great Range with its peaks visible in a line across the entire northern horizon. One can see further up the ridge Nippletop and then Noonmark down below. To the S one gets a great view of the Dix Range with their many slides.
Thankfully they have now placed a sign on the summit of Bear Den Mountain, which was usually missed by hikers on the way up or down. It is basically just a pleasant green forest and if there were water it would be a really good place to camp.
The normal route is to head in from the Ausable Club and either climb the Peak directly or go up Nippletop and then descend to Dial and then out.
Hikers or climbers approaching any of the peaks that branch off the Lake Road should be aware of the parking restrictions in the area.
The designated hikers’ parking lot is just off rt. 73 opposite the parking lot for the Roaring Brook Trail. This spot is 3 mi. S of the High Peaks sign in Keen or 5.9 mi N of the junction of Rts. 9 nd 73. From here it is about 0.5 of a mile hike W along the gravel road and past the golf course to the start of the Lake Road and the trialhead.
There is room for about 30-40 cars but on busy weekends it does fill early and there is no parking allowed anywhere else in the area except at designated sites.
Please remember that for most of the approach to any of the peaks in this area is through the Adirondack Mountain Reserve which is private land please see the red tape section for further details.
Apart form the normal restrictions for the Adirondacks the following applies;
Adirondack Mountain Reserve despite its name is not public land but a private club on which we hikers and climbers enjoy the privileged to cross. Over the years these rights have come and gone but fortunately in 1978 the State of New York bought the high land surrounding the Club and with it got a permanent public easements for foot travel over some of the trails on AMR land. However, as our part of the deal while on or within 100m of ARM land the following rules apply
1) No camping, fishing or hunting
2) No off-trail travel including rock climbing or bushwhacking along the shores of the Lower Ausable Lake.
3) No boating or swimming, including portable boats brought by the public
4) NO DOGS or other pets are permitted
There is also no dropping off of hikers at the club all non club members must begin their trip at a designated hikers' parking lot.
Rumor has it there is a gate troll who is very rough on hikers. My suggestion is to approach with caution, bearing a highly salted snack treat to appease it.
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
This is one of the nicer summer routes since it it mostly in the shade and the walking is easy.
In fall the leaves are great but only for a few short weeks late August to mid September
Except as noted in the Red tape section the same rules as all the other Adirondack peaks apply.
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 sites
Adirondack Hiking Portal
What's In a Name
The naming of Dial is a story in itself let alone the question, “will the real Dial please stand up?”
Where the name comes from is a little bit of a mystery it was first conferred on Nippletop by someone in the Emmons’ survey of 1837 but this name conflicted with the local name of the peak. Old Mountain Phelps balked at calling his Nippletop anything else, no mater what some of the more fastidious tourists and writers said about this most unchristian of names. Phelps just transferred the name to a lower peak further down the ridge and both names have stuck ever since.
Will the real Dial please stand up?
The actual summit of the peak is also another interesting story. There are two bumps on the summit ridge and both appear to be about the same height. They are called, logically enough, the N and S Peak. The N peak is quite open and a little steeper on the sides, while you could miss the S summit if you were not looking for it while going on the trail down from Nippletop since it is middle of quite thick bush as is very flat on top.
Oh yes by the way the open section with the flat rock and great view and the ATS (Adirondack Trail Society) signs is not the summit. The actual summit is crossed a few M before by the trail and has no view at all.
That said ADK46ers consider the S Peak to be taller and therefore the real summit while the AMK (Adirondack Mountain Club), the USGS and most others see it as only as part of summit ridge of Nippletop and therefore the N peak is the summit.
Who is right? Looking at the maps I have it is hard to tell which is higher. There is no convent spot height around so we are just left with the imagination of the cartographer who laid in the contour lines. But the ADK46ers peak is higher by contour only.
The ADK46ers go by tradition so they are not to be trusted since they set their own rules and therefore can make any point they want to be the summit.
The AMK makes it claim by way of reading newer maps and deducing that Old Mountain Phelps must of meant this peak when it named it because the view is so good form it. Do we trust these guys as well since they only assume Phelps would of picked the peak with the best view?
Just to add some more confusion, the USGS has stepped into the fray by naming the small peak next to Dial Leach while S dial is still unnamed and the ATS placed the above mentioned sign at the lookout not the summit.
The only man who can solve this was Old Mountain Phelps and I am sure he took it with him.
As for you and me? Do them both and forget about it or take a GPS reading and then compare and decide for yourself as the trail crosses both summits the point is rather moot.