Upper Works

The "Upper Works" backpacking trails are among the major entry points for hiking trails in the Adirondacks that have access to the central and western high peaks sections of the Adirondack Park. They make for some great Adirondack mountain hiking and Adirondacks photos too!

This adventure actually refers to three separate trail heads located on the road leading in. (.... which has the same name as the trail, " Upper works Road".) And the ending point of each is different. Many people solely refer to the one that leads north to Indian Pass as "Upper Works".

(… but it’s technically just one of the backpacking trips. So if you’re meeting friends at the trail head make sure they know which trail you will be taking!)

Another trail heads west to the Santanoni Range and further. A third trail goes east to Allen Mountain.

These Adirondack trails lead to many beautiful lakes, ponds and Adirondack peaks. From this direction the hike to the high peaks is generally less hiking distance, less crowded and less steep.


The Upper Works trail head to Indian Pass and Lake Colden is situated at the end of Upper Works Road just after the ghost town of Adirondac in the Tahawus tract.

(…Teddy Roosevelt stayed there during his legendary trip from the Adirondacks to Buffalo, after president William McKinley was assassinated).

The area was purchased by the state of New York from National Lead. Recently there have been several wilderness programs and stabilization projects at Tahawus to improve the area).


We took the trail to the north which leads to Indian Pass and Lake Colden. There is a fairly big parking area near the trail head. Although when we went it was very full.

On the trail at about the quarter mile point the trail crosses the Hudson River over a wooden bridge. At this spot the river is merely a stream and only 500 feet from its source at Lake Henderson. Just after the bridge there is a trail to the cove at the southern end of Lake Henderson. We didn’t take this trail but plan to next time. It’s just a short walk (…about a 5-10 minutes I understand). The best beach for swimming is right at the canoe launch site. It makes for a great Adirondack canoe trip too!


After another tenth of a mile the Calamity Brook trail marked in red (.... and blue later)forks to the right. This is 4.4 miles and takes approximately two and a half hours. This will take you along the Calamity Brook to Flowed Lands and the Marcy region.

Again, we didn’t take this trail either as it was late in the day by the time we started. But next time we definitely will. Instead we took the trail to the left (...marked in yellow) which leads to the north end of Lake Henderson and beyond. When we went it was a little slow going as it rained a lot in recent days. The trail was somewhat wet/muddy but certainly doable.

At about the two mile mark the trail crosses a stream at the north end of Lake Henderson. From there the trail boarders the west end of the lake and then veers off toward Indian Pass. I understand that there is nice new lean-to near the lake on a hill at the north west shore.


We didn’t make it to the lean-to since we had to turn back before it got dark. But we enjoyed this short hike ( … just another addition to our list of Adirondack day trips).

Make sure you add this hike to your Adirondack Mountain hiking vacation too! Some of the best hiking in the Adirondack park.


Directions To Upper Works from Adirondack Northway, I-87:

  • Take Exit 29
  • Turn west on Blue Ridge Road, Rte 2. Continue for just over 17 miles to an intersection (When we went there is a sign for “National Lead, Inc”).
  • Turn right. After 0.4 mile you’ll pass the intersection for Tahawus Club and a sign for Lower Works Road and shortly after you’ll cross railroad tracks.
  • After 6.3 miles turn left on Upper Works Road. At 8.2 miles you’ll pass a turn-off that leads to the Santanoni Range trail head.
  • At 9.1 miles you will pass the old McIntyre furnace.
  • At 9.3 miles you’ll pass the trail to Flowed Lands.
  • At 9.9 miles you’ll reach the end of Upper Works Road. The the trail head is at the parking lot.

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