alpha Guides | Better than beta.

The Seward Range is one of the most remote and rugged sections of the Adirondack High Peaks. A trip across the four peaks provides a significant challenge to many hikers, but also a big reward for their effort.

The Seward Range is made up of four peaks over 4,000 feet: Seward Mountain, Donaldson Mountain, Mount Emmons, and Seymour Mountain. All four are popular targets for peak baggers working on their 46er list. Long approaches, rugged trails, and a remote location make this collection of mountains especially challenging to tackle. However, the area also rewards hikers with relative solitude, great camping opportunities, and beautiful scenery.

Most hikers will choose to split the four mountains in the range into two long day hikes or instead complete the four-peak traverse as an overnight. But the fittest and most ambitious climbers can complete the range in one very strenuous day.

Quick Facts of the Seward Range

Distance: 21+ miles and over 6,000’ gain if completed as a large loop over all four peaks

Time to complete: Two days for most

Difficulty: ★★★★★
Scenery: ★★★★

Season: Year-round, but winter adds significant challenges
Fees/Permits: No permits are required
Contact: No fees or permits are required, subject to typical High Peaks regulations http://No fees or permits are required, subject to typical High Peaks regulations (

Red Tape

Besides the typical rules and regulations regarding recreation in the High Peaks Wilderness, there’s also an access challenge—actually getting to the trailhead. During the summer months, you can drive all the way to the main summer lot on a seasonal access road (indicated on the map above) and the starting point for the following description. In the winter, hikers may find the road unmaintained, closed, or gated.

In all seasons, the passibility of the road is dependent on logging activity as well as the condition of its unmaintained portion. DEC websites, local guides, and outfitters can often provide status updates. Note, when the road is closed, you must park at the winter lot, which adds a three-mile road march each way to any hikes to the Seward Range.

Getting to the Seward Range

From Lake Placid, follow Route 86 toward Saranac Lake. Once in Saranac Lake, turn left onto Route 3 and take it toward Tupper Lake for 12.5 miles. Turn left onto Corey’s Road and follow it for 2.5 miles until it turns into Ampersand Road. Stay the course and continue along the gravel road for another 3 miles to a parking lot on the right.

Seymour and Seward Mountain
A look at Seymour Mountain (left) and Seward Mountain (right) from the remote Sawtooth wilderness.

Turn By Turn

From the summer lot, head down the Blueberry Hiking Trail and Blueberry Horse Trail, which at the start are one and the same. At the 0.9-mile mark, the horse trail and hiking trail split; bear left to stay on the hiking trail, as the horse trail is often very muddy.

Decision Time

At the 1.4-mile mark, the trail intersects with the Calkins Brook Truck Trail on the right and a private road that leads to Ampersand Road to the left. Here, the direction you choose depends on your plans—are you planning to do the full, four-peak monster loop? Do you plan to camp out and tackle the range over two days? Or do you plan to ascend just the three most popular peaks?

Those who are planning to tackle all four peaks (either in a day or as an overnight) will want to continue straight, heading toward Seward Mountain and the Northern Herd Paths. If planning, like most, to climb Seward Mountain, Donaldson Mountain, and Mount Emmons in a day, the Calkins Brook Truck Trail to the Calkins Brook Herd Path is the preferred approach. Turn right onto the Calkins Brook Trail.

Hiking Just the Three Ridge Peaks of the Seward Range

From the Calkins junction, proceed on the wide and relatively flat Calkins Brook Truck Trail for about 2 miles to the entrance of the Calkins Brook Herd Path. The herd path is well defined and marked by a small rock cairn topped with a rusty bucket from old logging camp days.

Seward Mountain

Early on, there is a sizable water crossing, but it’s manageable in all but the highest water. The trail follows the brook northeast then turns southeast, gaining the ridge just below the summit of Donaldson Mountain after roughly 2.5 miles and a “T” intersection. Left takes you northeast with a dip and then a short, stiff climb to Seward Mountain. You will drop off the ridge and cross a wet col before winding slowly up a shelf to the true summit ridge. After a bit, turn north and climb a steep chute (which can be a tricky scramble in winter). Shortly after this steep section, you’ll pop out into a small clearing on the wooded summit of Seward marked with a DEC sign. In winter, when a bit higher above the krummholz you may sneak a few views, but otherwise the summit is viewless.

Donaldson Mountain

From the summit of Seward, return the way you came, back to the “T”. At the “T”, turn right to head to the summits of Donaldson Mountain and Mount Emmons, as the left will take you back down the Calkins Brook Herd Path. From here, it’s a short climb up the final 100-foot ridge to the summit of Donaldson Mountain—first reaching a small clearing with limited views back toward Seward, then continuing a few more meters, where a large rock marks the summit and a break from the mud.

Mount Emmons 

From the summit of Donaldson Mountain, continue on the ridge trail in a south-southwest direction toward Emmons. Mount Emmons was named after Ebenezer Emmons, who led the first ascent of Mount Marcy. After about a half mile of riding the increasingly narrow ridgeline, you’ll descend steeply a few hundred feet to the low, muddy spot between the peaks. Shortly after, you’ll start to climb back up toward the summit of Mount Emmons as you turn nearly due south. Remember to look up from the mud on this section, as here and the summit of Mount Emmons provide nice views of the area, including the nearby Santanoni Range. Around the one-mile mark, the trail winds around and up onto a large rock ledge which is the summit proper.

To descend from the top of Mount Emmons, retrace your steps first back to Mount Donaldson, then to the “T” intersection, and finally back along Calkins Brook Truck Trail to the trailhead or campsite.

Tricky chute leading to summit of Seward Mountain
This steep chute before the summit of Seward is tricky if iced over. Here it is a simple climb in the snow.

Adding Seymour Mountain

Those trying to tick all four 46ers in the Seward Range will want to add an additional peak onto their ascent. The most straightforward way is to bag Seymour Mountain early in the hike; doing so requires going a different direction at the Calkins junction.

To head toward Seymour, follow the Blueberry Hiking Trail from its intersection with Calkins Brook Trail. After roughly three miles, the trail arrives at the Blueberry Lean-to. From here, it’s just a short hop to the Ward Brook Truck Trail.

Take a right on the Ward Brook Truck Trail (going left enters private property); just a few hundred yards down the trail, you will once again pass the Blueberry Horse Trail. Continue on the Ward Truck Brook Trail for just over a half mile, crossing over a brook on a small bridge, and arriving at the Ward Brook Lean-to, a second option for those interested in turning this trip into a planned overnight.

Just behind the lean-to is the herd path leading to the summit of Seymour Mountain. The path is unmarked, challenging, and steep—it climbs nearly 2,000 feet in 1.5 miles en route to the summit. From the top of Seymour Mountain, turn around and backtrack all the way to the bridge/brook you crossed on the Ward Brook Trail. It’s tempting to bushwack across Ouluska pass to Seward, but avoid it at all costs.

Descending the north side of Mount Seymour
Descending deep snow on the north side of Seymour.

Connecting Seymour to Seward

From the bridge/brook, look for a herd path now on your left (on your right when heading toward Seymour). While the herd path is unmarked, it’s well-traveled and easy to spot. The first half-mile is flat and care is often needed to stay on the trail. As the climb sharpens, the trail is easier to see—it’s the steep, eroded path, featuring some small but challenging Adirondack ledges and slabs, that parallels the drainage leading to the summit of Seward Mountain.

From the summit of Seward Mountain, pick up the Seward Range Trail and follow it toward the other two ridge peaks of the Seward Range—Donaldson and Emmons. From the summit of Emmons, follow the descent directions mentioned above to return to the trailhead.

Seward, Donaldson, Emmons ridge
Views of the Seward/Donaldson/Emmons ridge with Long Lake beyond taken from near the summit of Seymour Mountain.

The Kit

  • The Seward Range and the Adirondacks are known for their unpredictable weather, which makes it a good idea to carry a rain shell. The EMS Thunderhead Jacket (men’s/women’s) is affordable, packable, and performs well.
  • These routes make for long days and have plenty of water sources down low, so you can go light by using a water filter like the Sawyer Mini to refill before climbing onto the often dry ridges instead of loading yourself down with heavy water.
  • Protect yourself from the abundance of mud and bugs found in the Seward Range by using gaiters like the Outdoor Research Bugout Ferosi Thru Gaiters.
  • You’ll need snowshoes to tackle the Seward Range in winter—it’s the law in the High Peaks. Opt for a reliable favorite with aggressive traction like the Tubbs Flex VRT Snowshoe.

Keys to the Trip

  • The Seward Range is a long drive for most. Add in big miles and four remote peaks, and many prefer to split the trip into two separate day hikes. The lean-tos on the route are attractive, but they can get busy. Bring a tent like the MSR Hubba Hubba (2-person/3-person) just in case they are full. As an added bonus, this part of the High Peaks allows fires, so you can dry out, warm up, or just bask in the glory of the range.
  • Only attempt the Seward Range in winter if you have extensive winter hiking experience. The possible added mileage of the winter trailhead, deep snow, frigid temperatures, and minimal traffic can all add up to an especially challenging journey.
  • Go into the Seward Range with proper expectations. This range lacks some of the grand vistas, open summits, and busy trails of other Adirondack areas. However, its rugged and remote beauty grows on you!
  • The bugs are bad in this area—especially during the notorious brutal black fly season of late May and early June—so pack your best bug spray and a head net if traveling in the summer.