Donaldson Mountain is the peak located in the center of the range and boasts the best views of the ridge. With an open rock ledge you will have outstanding views of the ridge as well as Long Lake located to the south. When doing the ridge Donaldson is the peak climbed the most, due to its location and the location of the herd-paths. The herd-paths are very remote and some of the most difficult in the Adirondack Park. So no matter the route you should also plan for a very long day and be on your A-game.
Donaldson is often climbed with Emmons and Seward, also located along the same ridge. The combination of the three peaks is a very long day at almost 18 miles and should be started early in the A.M., with expected time of 12+ hours for an experienced hiker.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 33 on the list.
Below are brief descriptions of the two routes, we recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail or hire a local guide to assist you.
Primary Trailhead: Leave Lake Placid on Rte 86, follow Rte 86 toward Saranac Lake. In Saranac Lake follow Rte 3 toward Tupper Lake. Continue on Rte 3 for 12.5 miles to Corey’s Road on the left. Follow Corey’s Road for 5.5 miles to the trailhead on the right.
This route follows Calkins Brook and is an 11+ mile RT. The approach follows a well-used trail for 1.2 miles before going right on an old woods road for another 2 miles to the Calkins Brook herd-path on the left. The herd-path soon crosses the brook and then climbs high above the brook on a generally moderate grade with crossings of side brooks. The herd-path reaches the ridge near the summit of Donaldson. Turn right to finish the remaining 200 or so vertical feet to summit Donaldson. A large ledge with a good view to the north and west is just beyond the summit on the right. The herd-path continues another mile to the summit of Mount Emmons.
11-15 miles RT, very challenging, Elevation: 4140’, Ascent 3490'
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail – 4 to 5 hours to summit.
Out of Shape Hiker: Not Recommended