Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak
Trailheads: Chapel Pond, Rt. 73 (start); East Trail, Rt. 9 (end)
Date of climb: May 27, 2012
#12: Giant Mountain, 4627 ft.
#20: Rocky Peak, 4420 ft.
It’s almost a close tie with Phelps, but I think this is my favorite hike of the high peaks to date. A fellow meetup hiker and I did a shuttled car hike of both Giant and Rocky – we left one car at the East Trail trailhead on Rt. 9 and then drove to the Chapel Pond trailhead on Rt. 73 to began the 11-mile journey.
Giant is a popular day hike, and even knowing this I was surprised at how crowded it was at the summit. We took the ridge trail up the mountain which took us over a lot of open rock ridges and scrambles; it didn’t seem too steep, despite the 3,050 vertical feet elevation gain in 3 miles. The descent of Giant near the summit in the direction of Rocky Peak I found to be the most challenging part of the hike – there were a number of steep spots that were a little scary going down. However, the views while descending Giant and ascending Rocky were some of the most beautiful I can recall seeing on my hikes this year; my little point-and-shoot camera unfortunately just doesn’t quite capture it the way I saw it, and in fact I don’t think I even included any pics from this part of the hike for that reason. The summit of Rocky Peak was absolutely breathtaking: spacious, 360 degrees in the Alpine Zone, with beautiful, colorful vegetation – and it was completely devoid of other hikers when we arrived, much to our delight.
The rest of the hike, beautiful as it was, seemed so long. We passed the Mary Louise pond on the way down Rocky and wanted to jump in, but opted not to due to the miles that still stretched out in front of us. We climbed and descended at least two more peaks (Bald and Blueberry Cobbles, and possibly a couple of other smaller ones) on the way toward Rt. 9. We opted to take the “shortcut” when we approached the start of the climb of Mason, the last peak of the hike, to give our knees a break – we instead hiked around the peak and picked up the trail on the other side, descending gradually for the final 2+ miles to the car. A really lovely day in the Adirondacks.