Santanoni is most often climbed with Panther Peak and/or Couchsachraga Peak. Consider using the Times Square herd-path and the Santanoni Express Route is you are planning to do a traverse of all three Santanoni Peaks in a day it will save time and distance – but you will need to leave Santanoni for last or do it first.
This Adirondack 46 High Peak is number 14 on the list.
Santanoni is the true gem of the range boasting the best views. Santanoni has an interesting trail along its east flank that used to be used quite often but was on private property, it is now open again to the public and aptly named “The Santanoni Express Route.” It’s steep and eroded but gets you up high and on the ridge really quickly; see the primary route below.
Leave Lake Placid on Rte 73, follow Rte 73 toward Keene. Drive through Keen and Keene Valley and proceed back to I-87. Head south on I-87 and get off exit 29 and follow the Blue Ridge Road (CR84) toward Newcomb. Continue for roughly 18-miles to the Tahawus Road (CR25) on the right. Follow this road 6.3 miles to a left marked by a sign for Mt. Marcy and the High Peaks. At 2.0 miles from this junction there is a parking lot on the left for Santanoni.
This is an approximate 4.8 mile hike, one way, along what is known as the Santanoni Express Route. From the parking area this route follows a gravel road that leads to a private hunting camp. After 1.8 miles, a sharp and somewhat obscure right leads you along a foot trail. The first bridge is out and you will need to ford the branch of Santanoni Brook. The second bridge is in poor shape but can still be crossed. Be very careful as it is slippery and quite high off the ground. The handrail is missing and the stairs on the opposite side up the steep embankment are slightly angled and equally as slippery.
This trail has been notorious for being the wettest trail in the Adirondacks and for good reason. However, work is in progress to remedy this. Several small re-routed sections have been developed, we areas closed off, and stringers have been laid out for easier passage. There is still much work to be done, but this is a wonderful start. At 3.4 miles from the parking area, the trail comes close to the brook and some beautiful cascades. Just beyond the trail flattens out and there is a cairn at the end of the flat area marking this spot where the herd path begins on the left. A tiny way in there is a crossing of Santanoni Brook which can be complicated in wet weather. Past this point you will come to a beaver area where a re-routed path to the left has alleviated much of the wet situations. From here it gets a bit steeper and then very steep over eroded terrain. As you ascent higher, the steeper it seems to get and more eroded under foot. You will pop out on the ridge just north of the summit of Santanoni. On the ridge you will meet a T-intersection which is the ridge trail explained below. Take a left here and hike moderately for about 0.1 miles to the summit. Path right leads to Panther. See that description for information on how to access that peak and Couchsachraga.
Average Round-trip Time
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: Primary trail – 3 to 4 hours to summit
Out of Shape Hiker: Not Recommended
The Express Route is very steep and in some locations can become iced over.
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Times Square Herd Path or Express Route from Upper Works
Round Trip Distance
12.6 miles via Times Square, 9.0 miles via the Express Route
Average Round-trip Time
8 to 10 Hours, 10 to 12 with Panther and Couchy
From Panther Mountain via Times Square
From Times Square locate the herd path behind the boulder and drop down steeply then continuously to the col (please see the page on Panther Mountain for detail on getting to Times Square). The climb up Santanoni from here is steady and only on a couple occasion steep. As you near the top ridge a short section of open rock can be a bit icy, but trees can aid you in safe passage. Just before the summit you may notice the Express Route coming in on the left. The ridge has outstanding views; the summit area is a bit more obstructed but still a very nice spot.
Via the Express Route
The Express Route is marked by a rock cairn at the head of the herd path (please see the page for Panther on the access trail to the express route). From the start of the herd path you will quickly come to a crossing of Santanoni Brook before entering a slightly confusing area near a beaver swamp. If not broken out try to keep the wetland to your right as close as possible and the herd path will come back to you on the other side. From here you will start a very steep and arduous climb up the shoulder of Santanoni Peak. Take your time for good footing. On the ascent there is a split in the trail and you should go right to avoid climbing steep cliffs, especially under winter conditions, and especially on the descent. You will hit the ridge about 0.1 miles from the summit.
Microspikes would be a definite addition to the pack for icy terrain
Please refer to our basic list of winter gear recommendations for day trips, remember this list is only a recommendation, and you should take into consideration your experience, group size, length of trip, conditions, weather forecast, and any unforeseen incidences.