Hough Peak, pronounced “Huff,” is a peak in the Adirondack Mountain Dix Range. Hough is considered a trail-less peak, but it has a strong herd path leading to its summit. Hough is not an easy peak to climb. At 4409′ Hough is one of the 46 Adirondack high peaks and is a required climb for the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.
The summit once had a canister to log your climb; these were deemed non-conforming structures by the DEC and removed. Hough does not support an alpine summit but does offer fine views. Since 1937 it is named in honor of Franklin Hough, the first chief of the United States Division of Forestry and sometimes referred to as the “father of American forestry.” Before 1937, the peak was unnamed.
Featured photo: The summit marker for Hough with the top of Dix Mountain behind. Above clockwise from top left: Sign at the Elk Lake parking area; Trail sign on the Hunters Pass trail near the parking area; Camping at Slide Brook; Climbing on the ridge to Hough; Herd path and cairn for Lillian Brook herd path (middle); View toward the conglomerate of high peaks from Hough; Chris crossing bridge at Lillian Brook; Chris on the ridge to Dix with Hough behind him; Hough on the ridge up Dix; Elk Lake viewed from Hough; Hogback (aka Pough), Hough, and Dix viewed from South Dix.
|Elevation:||4409′ (1344 m)|
|Lat/Lon:||44° 4′ 11” N / 73° 46′ 40” W|
|Seasons:||Spring, Summer, Fall. Winter for experienced only|
|Activities:||Hiking, backpacking/camping, winter climbing|
|Nearest higher neighbor:||Beck-horn (0.8-miles N)|
|Line parent:||Beck-horn (0.8-miles N)|
|Key-col:||4035 ft/1230 m (0.2-miles N)|
|Prominence:||374′ (114 m)|
|Range:||Adirondacks > Adirondack High Peaks > Dix Range|
|Land Unit:||High Peaks Wilderness|
|Summit forest:||Boreal in first growth|
|Maps and Guide:||High Peaks Adirondack Trail Map|
High Peaks Trails (14th Edition)
High Peaks Trails Guide and Map Pack (14th Edition)
The lands on Hough are administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC works with numerous organizations to maintain the trails, primitive campsites, and lean-tos. In the Adirondacks, the maintenance is done by a volunteer force and the Adirondack Mountain Club professional trail crew. It must be noted that the herd path to Hough and other peaks in the lower Dix Range is not maintained.
Before 1937, Hough was officially an unnamed peak. However, by the hiking community, it was called Marshall for George and Robert Marshall brothers who first climbed the peak and 46ers numbers 2 and 3, respectively. It was also known as Middle Dix. Grace Hudowalski wrote a wonderful article about the naming of the peak in the 1942 Adirondack Mountain Club Year Book. It is fitting that the peak about 1-mile southeast now is named in honor of her, Grace Peak! Grace was number 9 and the first female 46er finishing in 1922.
Hiking Hough is not usually done as a single climb. Once on the ridge, it makes sense to attempt other peaks in the range via the well-defined herd path. They are commonly done as overnight camping trips. However, if pressed for time or hiking it in winter, climbing it as a single climb out and back makes sense.
|Main trails & paths||Hunter’s Pass Trail, Lillian Brook Herd Path.|
|Shortest approach||Hunter’s Pass Trail from Elk Lake|
|Hardest route||Boquet Forks Herd Path over Grace, South Dix, and Pough OR over Dix from Round Pond|
|Easiest winter route||Hunter’s Pass Trail from Clear Pond on Elk Lake Road and Lillian Brook.(Winter for experienced only)|
The main trail, which is used to gain access to Macomb and other nearby peaks, originates from Elk Lake. The Hunter’s Pass Trail connects Elk Lake with Hunter’s Pass just west of Dix Mountain. Its entire length runs 7-miles to 0.4-miles below Dix Mountain’s summit at the junction with the Round Pond Trail.
The Hunter’s Pass Trail at 2.3-miles will reach Slide Brook and the first spots to camp. This is also the spot for the herd path to Macomb and where many people start the circuit to do the entire Dix Range Traverse.
Continuing on the Hunter’s Pass Trail, the Lillian Brook Herd Path is reached at about 3.25-miles. From the trail, it is 2-miles to the summit of Hough on the Lillian Brook Herd Path. The herd path leaves you on the ridge between Hough and Pough. Once on the ridge in the saddle, head north to Hough.
Back on the Hunter’s Pass Trail from the herd path, it is another 0.3-miles where more camping is found at Lillian Brook.
Hough from Elk Lake Parking via Lillian Brook Herd Path
|Distance:||10.5-miles RT||Route type:||Out-and-back|
|Total climb:||2777′ RT total||Hike type:||Trail, herd path|
|How hard?||Difficult||Trailhead:||Elk Lake/Dix Mountain TH|
Add 2-miles one way (4 round trip) if the road is closed usually from December to May. See red tape below.
Elk Lake Lodge Property
Respect the owners rights.
The Elk Lake Trailhead and the first 2.3 miles of the trail accessing the Dix Mountain area are on private lands. The public has the right to use the trail but is prohibited from leaving the trail and trespassing on private lands. The trails from Elk Lake are closed during northern zone regular big game hunting season. After big game hunting season, the trail reopens.
Elk Lake Road and Parking
The parking lot is currently closed due to COVID-19. Parking is available about 2 miles from the trailhead.
The Elk Lake Trailhead and parking area are very busy. There is an overflow parking area about 1-mile from the main lot. DO NOT park on the side of the road. This has become a problem in areas of the High Peaks, please don’t add to it.
After Big Game Season, and through the winter and spring mud season, the public must park 2.0 miles back from the trailhead at the Clear Pond Parking Area.
|Closest camping||Slide Brook Lean-to and Primitive Campsites; Lillian Brook Lean-to and Primitive Campsites|
Camping at the lean-to is first come first serve and no lean-to or designated campsite can be reserved. Lean-to capacity is about 7-8 people. All designated primitive tent sites have yellow and black “Camp Here” markers. Many sites on lakes and ponds are identified by a yellow number against a dark brown wooden plaque typically attached to a tree near the water’s edge.
If necessary, at-large camping is permitted as long as campsites are at least 150 feet from any road, trail, waterbody, or waterway. Place your tent on a durable surface, such as hardened soil, leaf litter, or pine duff. Do not place your tent on vegetation.
No camping above 3,500 feet (except at lean-to).
Max group size 8. No permits for larger groups.
Camping for more than three nights or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
Slide Brook is 2.3-miles and Lillian Brook is 3.6-miles from the Elk Lake trailhead
|Slide Brook||Slide Brook||1 lean-to / 4 primitive sites|
|Lillian Brook||Lillian Brook||1 lean-to / 3 primitive sites|
|Area totals:||2 lean-tos / 7 primitive sites|
Safety and Wellness
Please sign in at all trail registers, here’s why.
There are an estimated 4000+ black bears in the Adirondacks. The following are the recommendations from the DEC on bear management:
- Use bear-resistant food canisters. These are a highly effective means for preventing bears from getting your food, toiletries, and garbage. Use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondack and Catskill backcountry, and are required in Eastern High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Park.
- Pack a minimal amount of food. The less food to store the better. Use lightweight and dehydrated foods.
- Cook and eat before dark. Bears become more active after sunset.
- Cook away from your campsite. Choose an area at least 100 feet away from your sleeping area.
- Be neat and clean while cooking. Avoid spills and drippings. Do not pour grease into your fire pit.
- Keep food in storage containers. Only take out the food you plan to cook. Keep containers nearby and store food immediately if a bear approaches your cooking area.
- Avoid leftovers. Carefully plan your meals and eat all that you cook.
- Never leave food unattended. Bears may watch from a distance waiting for opportunities to steal food.
If You Encounter a Bear at Your Campsite
- Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your campsite.
- Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
- Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.
- Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
- Run from a bear: They may chase.
- Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and “bully” people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.
A note on water
Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets, or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.
The Adirondack High Peaks are known for extreme changes in weather. A warm sunny day in the valley can mask a cold and clouded summit. Ice and snow are not unheard of ANY month of the year at higher elevations. The mountains create their own weather! Please check the weather forecast as close as you can for your outing. In the winter, forecasts are not accurate until 24-hours before your hike. Sometimes not even that.
Contacts and Map
|Dix Mountain Area|
|Contact Information:||DEC Region 5 Ray Brook Office: 518-897-1200 (M-F, 8:30 AM to 4:45 PM)
Backcountry Emergencies: 518-891-0235 (24/7) or dial 911
|Location:||Towns of Keene, North Hudson & Elizabethtown, Essex County|
|Map:||Dix Mountain Wilderness Map|
|Amenities:||Dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies, can be found in the nearby communities of Keene & Elizabethtown.|
|Weather:||Dix Mountain Weather|
|Cell Service:||Never count on your cell phone for rescue. Cell service in the Dix Mountain Wilderness is sparse at best and one may have problems gaining a signal.|
Click map or here for an interactive version of the map.
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the wilds of the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York. A Catskill 3500 Club Member and Adirondack Forty-Sixer. Climbed Mount Rainier. Professionally an Exercise Physiologist.