The Dix Range has at least 3 slides that are accessible to the average hiker: Macomb, East Dix and Dix. They make for good outings, offer great views and lead to the ridge of one of the nicest wilderness areas and mountain range in upstate New York. Here’s how to get to two of them.
The Macomb slide is easy to access and leads straight to the summit of Macomb Mountain. From the Elk Lake trailhead, follow the trail to Slide Brook lean-to for 2.3 miles. Just after a bridge, about 100 m before the lean-to, a cairn marks the start of the herdpath, to the hiker’s right. It goes through a campsite, at the end of which another cairn shows the way.
From there, the trail is not maintained, but it sees so much traffic that it’s quite easy to follow. The slide starts a little over a mile after the campsite. It’s made of dirt, scree, large rocks and boulders, depending on where you are. There’s nothing technical about it, it’s all easy hiking, so easy that the slide is actually the herdpath. The views of Elk Lake and the ranges surrounding it are superb.
Once on Macomb, going back to the trailhead would be a waste of a day. South Dix, East Dix, Hough and Dix can all be reached to the north. From the Beckhorn, a secondary summit of Dix Mountain, the trail is maintained and Dix is a few steps away. All that’s left is to hike the 7 miles back! It’s a tough, but very rewarding day as all summits offer great views.
Stats for the Dix Range (5 summits, Elk Lake trailhead, ascent via the Macomb slide and descent via the Beckhorn trail):
Mileage: 25.5 km (15.8 miles)
Elevation Gain: 1,679 m (5,500 ft)
GPS tracklogs are easy to find on the Web
East Dix Slide
The Macomb slide is great, but there’s always the issue of parking at the Elk Lake trailhead. The lot is small, so unless you get there very early, you might be looking at an extra 6.8 km (4.2 miles) of walking on the road. There’s a chance of getting a ride from someone, but it’s a gamble. A good alternative to hiking the Dix Range is starting with East Dix and trying the East Dix Great Slide.
This plan means parking on route 73, about 3 km (1.9 miles) south of the Round Pond trailhead, the usual trailhead for a hike of Dix Mountain. The trail is unmaintained and this area can be slightly confusing without a GPS or map/compass. It leads to backcountry campsites, and basically follows the south side of the North Fork of the Boquet River for the first couple of miles and then follows the South Fork Boquet River right to the base of the slide. There are a few crossings, but they’re rock hops.
At the slide, an easy and obvious trail leads to the col just before the summit of East Dix. However, the slide is more fun, offers great views and goes right to the summit. It’s a no brainer.
The easiest and safest route up sticks to the right in the bottom third, to the left in the middle third and to the right again in the top third. The best route and each third I’m referring to are rather obvious. Make sure you stick to the right in the top third, because the left half of the slide is much steeper and technical. I went left and got into quite a few tricky spots. The slide ends on the southern end of East Dix, 5 minutes from the actual summit.
Again, the rest of the Dix range can be hiked from here. The best way is to make it to Dix and descend to Round Pond using the trail with the blue markers. From there, it’s a little over 3 km (1.9 miles) back to the car on route 73. Hitching a ride here is easy.
The mileage below is for an out-and-back of East Dix, South Dix, Macomb and Hough from the herdpath on route 73. This is not recommended unless the plan is to summit Spotted and Elizabethtown #4 mountains, which was our intention. Going out via Dix and Round Pond is better.
Mileage: 29km (18 miles)
Elevation Gain: 1,872 m (6,140 ft)
GPS tracklogs are easy to find on the Web, and likely include the in as described above and the out via Dix Mountain and Round Pond