Gothics Mountain in the Adirondacks is one of the best hikes in the Northeast, with breathtaking scenery and epic climbs. Not for those inexperienced, this challenging trail takes explorers to the mountain's summit, rewarding their efforts with 360-degree panoramas that can't be beaten. Located in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks, Gothics Mountain is the tenth-highest mountain in the Adirondack region (4,736 feet/1,444 meters-high) and is one of the most difficult hikes in the area - though still doable if one has the stamina, a good level of hiking experience, and the right amount of preparation.
Depending on the route taken, this strenuous hike can be a 15-mile round-trip, taking up to 10 hours to complete. Given its difficulty level and length, the hike to Gothics Mountain is not ideal for children or those out of shape - instead, they'll need to practice tackling easy Adirondack mountain hikes first to build up fitness and experience. For seasoned trekkers in peak form who are ready to challenge this taxing trail, however, this guide on hiking Gothics Mountain covers everything they need to know about this amazing Adirondacks adventure, including the best Gothics Mountain trails to try - and there's more than one!
To emphasize, the Gothics Mountain trails are not recommended for beginners, children, or hikers without a decent level of fitness.
Gothics Mountain Primary Trailhead
- Length: 6.2 miles one-way
- Time: 7 to 10 hours
This 6.2-mile one-way route is commonly cited as the best Gothics Mountain hiking trail and offers plenty of steep climbs and descents, so hikers must be physically up for the challenge. A seasoned hiker in good shape can expect to arrive at the summit in around three to three and a half hours; however, the hike isn't recommended for those with children or people not in tip-top shape. To hike this trail, hikers can park in the St. Huberts parking area, which can be found by taking Route 73 up from Lake Placid and following the road until reaching St. Huberts. Here, parking is situated just across from the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead.
Visitors will have to enter the private Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) to get to this parking area. From May 1 to October 31, parking reservations are required and can be made a maximum of two weeks in advance via the AMR website - walk-ins are not permitted. Also, signs at the AMR state that dogs are not allowed - so leave Fido at home for this hike.
From the St. Huberts parking area, visitors follow a dirt road that eventually leads to a paved road. At around half a mile from the parking lot (just before the clubhouse on the Gothics Mountain trail map), hikers should turn left and head between the two tennis courts on Lake Road Way in order to reach the gate into the AMR. The AMR is private property with rules to which visitors must adhere - these can be seen signposted at the main gate.
After reading the rules at the gate, walkers can begin a two-mile hike following a dirt access road, which leads to the Gothics Trail. First, the trail heads through the beautiful forest, offering lovely sights throughout. Then, it takes hikers to a bridge that crosses the Ausable River, after which point they continue until reaching the base of Beaver Meadow Falls.
At the bottom of Beaver Meadow Falls, the trail begins a steep ascent. To the falls' left, hikers climb a ladder before ascending to a steadier climb. However, this section of the route involves steeper portions, so hikers are advised to proceed with caution, especially at around the two-mile mark from Lake Road, which gets very steep. After this section, there are ladders enabling hikers to descend at the junction with the Range Trail. Left of this junction is the Gothics, with Armstrong on the right. Those going to the Gothics Mountain summit should scale the left side of the junction, heading up the ridge until reaching the wide-open peak complete with paralyzingly stunning views.
How To Hike To Pyramid Peak Via The Gothics
Hiking the Gothics from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve also opens up the option of visiting Pyramid Peak - home to some of the best views in the Adirondacks. Although this difficult trail is made a little longer when combining Pyramid Peak with the Gothics, making the extra journey is worth it.
To reach Pyramid Peak from the Gothics Mountain summit, hikers need to go about 200 yards to the left of the latter. From here, the trail descends quickly and then ascends to Pyramid Peak, which is another steep trip upward. Once arrived at Pyramid, hikers get to soak up magnificent mountain scenes; almost the entirety of the Great Range can be seen from the Pyramid summit, with views of numerous slides on the surrounding peaks thrown in for good measure.
After taking in the beauty of Pyramid Peak, the hike descends steeply again until it reaches a junction just around a mile from the Gothics Mountain summit. Hikers should turn left at that junction and follow the trail downward before passing Rainbow Falls and accessing the bridge below the dam. Then, to return to Lake Road and finish the trail, explorers can cross the bridge and drag their labored legs around another 100 yards or so. Fortunately, Lake Road then takes fatigued feet back to the main parking area.
Gothics Mountain Trail Map Secondary Hiking Trailhead
- Length: 6.2 miles one-way
- Time: 7 to 10 hours
Another fantastic Gothics Mountain hiking trail is the Second Trailhead. What's more, dogs are welcome to walk this trail with their humans so that Fido can come along for this one! To get to this trail, hikers must first make their way to The Garden in Keene Valley. Parking here costs a small fee, and it's recommended to arrive early on weekends due to limited spaces. If there are none left, visitors can find overflow parking at Marcy Field. Alternatively, visitors can take the shuttle bus from Keen Valley airport, which has been running for several years.
How To Hike The Second Trailhead To Gothics Mountain
- Length: 7.1 miles one-way
- Time: 7 to 10 hours
The secondary Trailhead to Gothics Mountain consists of a 7.1-mile trek one-way. It covers varied terrain, and experienced hikers should be able to reach the summit in around four or five hours - but, as with the first trail, this one is not suited for unfit hikers or those with kids tagging along.
After the parking area, the first part of the trail remains quite flat. Although there are a few climbs thrown in, the majority of the first half mile is fairly easy. Later at the junction with Southside Trial, hikers carry on trekking straight along the undulating hills until they arrive at a steep drop at Johns Brook Valley.
To the right, hikers will be able to see Johns Brook Lodge, which is the perfect stopping point for a break if needed. Then, a direct route to the summit of Gothics Mountain is to the left of the DEC Interior Outpost. Hikers cross over a bridge that goes over Johns Brook, immediately after which they should turn right. After this bridge, there's a gradual but very noticeable ascent along the Ore Bed Brook.
Soon, hikers stumble upon a five-way intersection, at which they continue straight on the Ore Bed Trail, staying on this route for a mile until it steepens. Upon arrival at the top of the Ore Bed Trail, hikers can choose where they wish to go next: Saddleback is on the right, while Gothics is on the left. Although the Gothics grant the best views of the two, the trek up is far more strenuous.
If Gothics is the goal, hikers can go left up the Cable Route, which runs extremely steep and exposes challengers to the harsh elements. Thankfully, this route has a coated cable to help hikers with the ascent (hence the name). After scaling this last section of the trail, hikers are rewarded in full for their efforts in the form of the wondrous west summit of Gothics Mountain. However, the trek to the true summit commands a little longer on foot.
The Best Time To Hike Gothics Mountain
The Gothics Mountain hike promises an incredible adventure year-round with mesmerizing views. Still, it can be a rough route in spring when high water levels make the trail wet and slippery, rendering some trails impassable. Summer and fall are inviting, with plenty of forest colors decorating the landscapes, but come winter, many people enjoy the adventure - which is also an excellent opportunity for snowshoeing.
Though winter hiking to Gothics Mountain is exciting, it's important to be aware that deep snowdrifts and intense winds can impede progress along the trail at times. Plus, from the mountain's ridge to the summit, whiteout conditions can occur, making it almost impossible to see. Therefore, hikers need to check the weather forecast before venturing out to challenge the Gothics Mountain hike - not to mention that dressing for the conditions and packing appropriately is a must. Of course, bringing wind protection and waterproof clothing is a given, but hikers should also be ready for all weather conditions and unforeseen issues, packing spare garments as well as hiking essentials and safety tools - just in case.
When hiking the Gothics in winter, allow an extra two or three hours to complete the trail; though utterly gorgeous and a memorable experience, the trek is even tougher in ice and snow!