If you want to climb Mount Marcy in one day, and camp for free your best bet is to camp at the South Meadow trailhead. To get there, take the Adirondak Loj Road off of Rt. 73 for 3.8 miles. The turn is to the left, about 1 mile before you reach the Adirondak Loj. After a short drive, you reach a parking area where you can leave your car. There are campsites around the parking area where you can set up a tent.
These sites are not as popular as near the Marcy Dam, because you are still 8 miles from Marcy's summit.
This is really easy to find, but if you get confused, just go straight to the Adirondak Loj and ask them about it. They will give you directions.
Wright Peak (4580') as seen from Marcy Dam on the descent
A little before the parking area is an old forest road going towards the mountains to the right. Hike this road for 2.8 miles until you reach Marcy Dam.
While this is not the shortest route to Marcy's summit, it may be the fastest. The 2.8 miles to Marcy Dam are on a smooth dirt road, with few rocks. It takes less than an hour to get to Marcy Dam, and we did it in about 45 minutes.
Once you reach Marcy Dam, follow the Standard Route, the Van Hoevenberg Trail.
Round Trip Hiking Mileage: 16 miles
Elevation Gain: 3250 feet
General hiking gear applies in the summer. Bugs are nasty on this route in the summer, so bug spray is essential for those first 2.8 miles to Marcy Dam.
In the early spring and winter you will need general winter gear for the Adirondaks, so crampons and an ice ax may be necessary.
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