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After another very refreshing break (the clouds had thickened and the winds had increased, making it feel noticeably cooler than it had earlier), we continued on. Our route took us right over Hopkins and down a little used trail to another minor sub-bump called Spread Eagle Mountain. Soon after re-entering the forest from Hopkins' summit, though, we encountered a shortcut trail that provided an alternative to the route over Spread Eagle.
Continuing over Hopkins
Bypass junction
Time was marching along, and we were starting to feel a bit weary from the various ups and downs of the day - so, we decided to skip Spread Eagle and take the bypass. It was apparent, though, that many do not choose this option, for the bypass trail was extremely faint and in places a bit difficult to follow. After dropping very steeply off of the crest between Hopkins and Spread Eagle, the grade lessened and the path angled through verdant glades of ferns, then through an open forest. The floor of the forest here was covered with a thick layer of the previous years' fallen leaves, which contributed to the difficulty of following the trail.
courtesy JInnes
Rarely used descent
Leafy and overgrown
Very faint
The trail soon dumped us out onto an old forest road, upon which we turned left and followed for a few minutes before we reached the top end of a modern gravelled road network (or rather I should call them streets, since that better describes their function). This network of streets serves what is essentially a hilly subdivision of the town of Keene Valley. Therefore, the rest of our walk down into the valley simply involved following the most direct route down this network of roads.
Reaching Keene Valley's suburbs
Now just a road-walk
Nearing Beede Road
Our walk down the gravelled streets brought us to Beede Road, a paved street leading over the Ausable River and on to Highway 73. However, rather than going out to the Highway and walking down it for the final part of our hike, we decided to turn left and follow a pleasant little walking path constructed by the town of Keene Valley. This was a more pleasant nature-esque alternative, and led very nicely through some valley floor forest until we reached another road (and bridge crossing) of the Ausable River.
Valley Trail Option
Valley Trail
Valley Trail
Valley Trail
Hall Hun Barclay Road
Crossing the bridge and turning right brought us almost immediately to the Mountaineer outdoor store, and the completion of our journey. I was happy to see that our shuttle bicycle was waiting patiently for us next to the tree where we had left it, nine or so hours earlier.
Arrival at the Mountaineer
I needed a little break and re-hydration before tackling the final part of our adventure (well, for me at least): the bike ride back to the North Trail trailhead.

After donning a helmet, changing into more appropriate footwear, and chugging a nice cold bottle of Gatorade, I was ready to begin the bike ride. The others would wait in the vicinity (perhaps at the nearby Noonmark diner, where they could relax and have a bite to eat) until I returned with the car.
Preparing the shuttle
The bike ride turned out to be quite easy for most of its length. The exceptions were two: two steep grades on the way up from Keene Valley to the height of land along route 9N. A combination of a too-low seat and tired legs meant that I stopped and took a few breaks along these stretches.

45 minutes or so later, I arrived back at the North Trail trailhead. After packing up the bike, I drove back to Keene Valley, where the others had just finished up having a quick dinner at a local restaurant. Perfect timing.
Andrew heads off
Celebratory Dairy Products
A pretty good day, all in all. It was fun covering a bunch of new trail (for me, anyway), and there was enough diversity in this outing to always make it interesting. Well, except maybe for that stretch up and over the boggy bit. Overall, a recommended itinerary.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Giant Mtn North Traverse - click map to view
Giant Mtn North Traverse (incl Hopkins)
Start Time: 8:51a.m.
End Time: 6:09p.m.
Duration: 9h18m
Distance: 21.85 km (13.57 mi)
Average Speed: 2.3 km/hr (1.5 mph)
Start Elevation: 1254ft (382m) *
Max Elevation: 4629ft (1411m) *
Min Elevation: 1044ft (318m) *
End Elevation: 1057ft (322m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 4251ft (1296m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 4453ft (1357m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Bike Shuttle to Slide Brk TH
(Track color: )
Start Time: 6:36p.m.
End Time: 7:24p.m.
Duration: 0h47m
Distance: 13.62 km (8.46 mi)
Average Speed: 17.4 km/hr (10.8 mph)
Start Elevation: 1037ft (316m) *
Max Elevation: 1726ft (526m) *
Min Elevation: 1005ft (306m) *
End Elevation: 1289ft (393m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 694ft (212m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 407ft (124m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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