Mount Skylight was one of four High Peaks named on the same day in 1857 by Old Mountain Phelps and painter Frederick S. Perkins. As the duo stood atop Mount Marcy, enjoying the gorgeous panorama of mountains that unfolded before them, they contemplated appropriate names for several then-unnamed peaks. Phelps and Perkins noted that a rock projection on the summit of Skylight looked like a dormer window (a vertical window on the sloped roof of a house). Because they could only see one “roof side” of the dormer, they agreed the peak reminded them of a skylight. The flat, wide-open summit also appeared like a perfect place to gaze up into the sky on a clear night. Sixteen years later, Colvin led the first successful ascent of the 4,926-foot mountain. In his 1873 report, Colvin described the immense difficulty of this climb; he and his men had to fight through a dense thicket of dwarf trees before reaching the beautiful, bare summit.

Today, Mount Skylight is notorious for its many huge rock cairns that sit atop the peak. According to an old legend, hikers who carry a rock up to the summit of Skylight will have good weather during their trip. Hikers have been dropping rocks on Skylight for decades, creating massive piles on the summit. Each year, summit stewards have to carry rocks down the mountain to minimize the danger of these roughly-constructed rock piles to both hikers and fragile alpine species. During the 2018 season, stewards relocated 6,000 pounds of rocks, and thousands more continue to litter the summit. While stewards still encourage hikers to carry rocks to the tops of Marcy, Wright, Algonquin, and Colden to help trail crews mark trails and protect alpine species, Skylight clearly has more than enough rocks to go around.

View from Mount Skylight
View from the Summit of Mount Skylight

Bobbette, Sadye. “Skylight Does Not Want Your Rocks.” Adirondack Mountain Club, 2018,