Gray is the seventh highest peak in the Adirondacks as well as the highest with no maintained trail leading to the top. This bald peak offers a great view of Marcy and Skylight as well as Colden.
There is a well developed herd path leading from Lake Tear of the Clouds but it is sometimes hard to find the start. So here is the exact excerpt for the local Guidebook
“Start at the outlet of Lake Tear of the Clouds and climb over a ridge and across into a valley. (When descending, do not be misled down this valley, as it is very rough going and joins Feldspar Brook well below Lake Tear.) The route then heads N to the summit ridge, striking it about 200 yrds. W of the summit.”
In winter the easiest way to get there is to descend the West side of Marcy and up and along the ridgeline to the summit. Depending on snow conditions this can be an easy ski or a dangerous ice ridge walk through iced-over bush and cliffs.
In summer this route is easy until one hits the tree-line then it quickly becomes quite the slog though the densest scrub and undergrowth that mother nature can throw at you.
There are any number of ways to get to Lake tear of the Clouds and all are fine. The most interesting hike is up the Feldspar trail especially in early spring when the water is high in the brook.
For a day trip you are best to start early from Adirondack Loj and either go by way of Avalanche pass to the Feldspar trail (less uphill but longer and steeper) or take the direct route past Lake Arnold (shorter but more uphill hiking) to Feldspar.
Your best return is to simply backtrack but if you have time you might want to loop up and over Marcy and back but this does add a lot more uphill and distance.
Normal Adirondak rules apply.
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
Any season is good. In winter the route from Marcy is advisable if snow condition are right.
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)
What's in a Name
The peak was named for Professor Asa Gray, ( a noted botonists of his day.) by Verplanck Colvin as a result of his 1873 survey of the area.
It is Lake Tear of the Clouds that is the real interesting spot in the area. Not only is it a very beautiful lake and affords great pictures of Marcy standing Majestically in the background there are also a number of First Nation pictoglyphs and cravings around the lake. Most noticeable and easiest to find is a large set of concentric rings next to the trail. There is some doubt whether these are a modern man made or of natural or First Nation origin.
Lake Tear is also the highest pond source for the Hudson river and just to show you how remote and unknown this area was in the 18th century the source of the Nile was discovered before the source to the Hudson.