Many people hike Dix as part of the entire Dix Range, which consists of Macomb, South Dix, East Dix, Hough and Dix. They do it all in one trip. We decided to try a different plan, and because of this, it was tough to find information about this hike the way we wanted to do it. Many of the guides gave direction on doing this as a loop. So maybe this will be helpful to someone who wants to break up the trip.
This was the first day of our weeklong vacation and what a beauty it was! The morning was crisp; not humid at all. Hiking Buddy, Hubby, myself and our youngest son set out from Route 73, parking at the Round Pond trailhead. After a very short walk down the road, we were at the Dix trailhead. It was 6:40 a.m. The trail was steep at first, but within no time it leveled off and we were getting away from the road. Within 15 minutes we were at Round Pond, just 1/2 mile from Route 73. The water was like glass, broken only by a beaver taking an early morning swim and a family of (we think) mergansers.
The trail levels out as it circles around the northern side of the pond, before starting a moderate climb. It only took an hour to get from the pond to the junction of trails leading to Dix, Noonmark or Round Mountains. So far we had traveled 2.3 miles from the road. We took a 10 minute break and continued on toward the Boquet River lean-to, another 1.9 miles away. This was an extremely easy stretch of hiking. In fact, we only gained 100 ft in elevation in the nearly 2 miles of walking. I would imagine backpackers would be happy to get to this lean-to after not much climbing and unload their big packs.
It took us 50 minutes from the 4 way junction to the lean-to. We sat for about 15 minutes and headed out. Crossing the stream was a piece of cake because the water level is very low. We crossed several "brooks" on this hike, none of which really had much water flowing. At 10:10 we emerged from the woods at the base of an impressive slide. It was totally awesome! There was only a trickle of water running down it, but I would imagine it could be quite slick when it's A) wetter or B) frozen. Hubby laid down to take in the sun. I started taking pictures. It was even more impressive when you hiked up a hundred feet or so and turned around. Round, Noonmark and Giant Mountains were easily spotted.
After another 15 minute break (we obvious enjoy the journey, including the breaks, and not the race to the top), we picked up the trail back into the woods. We (I) kind of hoped we would be climbing more of the slide. Once we picked up the trail again, which was to the right of the slide and marked with a cairn, the climbing began. We were now going to pay for the very moderate ascent we had enjoyed to this point. The ADK guidebook described the next section of the trail as "unrelentingly steep". This was not an exaggeration. It's not that we had to climb straight up, but the unrelenting part was true. There were little to no areas Hiking Buddy and I like to call "recovery zones" - sections of trail that flatten out, however briefly, to catch your breath. Forget that. Didn't exist.
It took another 1 hr 40 minutes for me, always the caboose of the group, to reach the summit. But wow, was it worth every drop of sweat. I've heard there are other peaks with top notch views (Haystack for one), but I have yet to do them. Pyramid/Gothics had amazing views, but Dix is right up there. You can just stand in one spot and
take pictures in a 360 degree loop. Also, because the humidity was low, the sky was very clear; not hazy. The Great Range is pictured above. We also saw Elk Lake, Giant Mtn (below), and many others. There was a family of 46ers atop the summit who encouraged us to go for Hough today as well, but it wasn't part of the plan... We definitely didn't have enough water to even attempt it.
We enjoyed 45 minutes at the top, eating and taking pictures, before heading down at 12:50. We reached the slide at 2:10, paused for 5 minutes and hit the lean-to by 3 p.m. After 15 minutes we set off, reaching the 4 way junction by 4:10. Along the way we spotted a grouse run across the trail. We heard one in the morning but didn't see it. Also on the way up we saw a small rabbit sitting in a little dent alongside the trail. Surprisingly, he just sat there staring at us, even though we were so close we could just touch him.
The last push past Round Pond and out to Route 73 took just over an hour. We were at the car by 5:25. The total mileage for hiking Dix this way was13.6. Most of the hike was relatively easy, except for that last mile or two before the summit. Overall, we had a great day on the 6th highest High Peak. Dix was named for John Dix, the State's Secretary of State in 1837 who later became New York State governor.