The Santanoni Direct herd path is now the most direct access to Santanoni Peak. This is alternatively known as “Santanoni Express” or the “New Old Trail”. This was the original preferred route to the summit. It was declared off limits due to private land management issues some time in the early 1980s. A state of New York land purchase made this area legally accessible once again in 2010.
This is an unmaintained, unmarked trail or “herd path”. All of the “trailless” Adirondack high peaks have herd paths of varying quality. Do not attempt this route unless you have a topo. map and compass, know how to use them, and have a decent sense of direction. That said, this route is fairly easy to follow with one exception.
Access the route via the Bradley Pond trail from the road to Upper Works. The blue blazed trail follows a gated road for about 2 miles. It then turns right into the woods. A little more than 3 miles from the trailhead, look for a lovely cascade in Santanoni Brook to your left. After another 5-10 minutes you will come to an obvious trail junction, marked with a large cairn. The official trail turns right. The left fork is the start of the Santanoni Direct herd path.
The trail descends and immediately crosses Santanoni Brook. The crossing is an easy rock hop at times of low to moderate water. It likely would be problematic after heavy rain. The trail starts upstream on the opposite shore of the brook. At the time of this writing (May, 2014) there was significant flood damage and blowdown in this area. It took a bit of effort to follow the trail in this portion. After a short distance, the trail turns left away from the brook.
It starts to climb steadily. Water was available about two-thirds of the way up to the ridge. Drink up, because if you are traversing the range it will be a long time before you find another stream. The upper part of the route climbs steeply, traversing below some interesting cliffs. Eventually you will top out on a side ridge and climb more gradually towards the summit.
Just below the summit you will reach a trail junction. This is the ridge herd path. Turn left to the summit of Santanoni. Don’t be fooled by the first false summit. The actual summit is at the end of the trail and is noted with a sign. It’s only about five minutes from the trail junction to the summit.
The distance is about two miles from the marked trail to the summit. The vertical climb is about 1700 feet. You can return via the same route. Or, at the ridge trail junction, continue straight to reach Times Square, Panther, and Couchsachraga. The Panther Brook herd path (original route description for Santanoni) descends from Times Square to Bradley Pond, making an interesting round trip.
Topo. map and compass.