The full name of the twelfth highest peak of the Adirondacks, “Giant of the Valley,” was first applied by historian B.J. Lossing after his ascent of Mount Marcy in 1859. Though many assume Giant’s dominance over Keene Valley gave this peak its name, “The Valley” actually refers to Pleasant Valley, an old name for the neighboring village of Elizabethtown. While Keene Valley sits in between Giant and several other enormous mountains, Elizabethtown is located to the east of all forty-six high peaks. From the east, the peak “appears to be a veritable giant” (Carson 124), hence its enduring name.
Historians believe that Giant of the Valley was the first ever high peak to be ascended. On June 2nd, 1797, while surveying the line between the Old Military Tract and Macomb’s Purchase, Charles Broadhead passed over Giant of the Valley. Broadhead ran the line so close to the top of Giant that it is highly likely he reached the true summit. With that, he became the first known person to climb any of the High Peaks.
Giant is a popular High Peak for first-time climbers due to its accessibility and relatively short climb. With its primary trailhead located right along Route 73, Giant is a quick and easy drive away from many towns in the northeast Adirondacks. The trail is about a six-mile round trip, making it a great climb for beginners since many of the more remote high peaks require fifteen or more miles of hiking. Rocky Peak Ridge is located less than a mile southeast of Giant’s summit, thus more experienced hikers often combine the two into one hike.