I have hiked all over the place, from New Zealand to Montana. I believe that nowhere - nowhere - brings the misery like the Adirondacks. Thick clouds of blackflies, bad weather, knee-deep mud, horrifically steep and eroded trails...
Dave and I had a good dose of horrifically steep and eroded trails when we hiked the Seward Range and Seymour Mountain. By far, these peaks were the hardest trails of the summer, way harder than anything we hiked in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, or Wyoming.
Switchbacks? What are those? :-)
- Day 1 we hiked in via Ward Brook, made camp at Ward Brook Lean To (just past 2), hiked Seward (3) - Donaldson (4) - Emmons (5) - Donaldson (4) - Seward (3).
- Day 2 we hiked Seymour (6), broke camp (just past 2), and hiked back out.
The walk in via Ward Brook is totally cruiser. We chose to tent near the Ward Brook Lean-To, because that site is between the herd path turn-offs for Seward and Seymour. Other folks stay at Blueberry or #4. I'd pick Blueberry over #4, so you have a shorter distance back to camp after Seward.
The turn-off for Seward is really easy to find - it's just after this bridge!
The north approach to Seward has the reputation for being awful. It's muddy, steep, and rough, but it's not insane. Take the back side of Algonquin, add the cliffs of Cliff, and season with the mud of Iroquois. So: muddy, steep, and rough.
The hard part of the day is leaving Emmons. Why? The trail is easiest at this point! But knowing that you are about to reverse all of the hard work you did, going back over the two mountains you just hiked....
Some folks exit down Calkins Brook, but I think that would take just as long. And the trail really isn't that bad. Be careful on the way down, though - we missed a cairn and needed to backtrack to avoid a bushwhack.