Definitely a high reward to effort ratio, and plenty of solitude to boot. Probably best to avoid this in bug season, I was practically carried up and down the range by a blizzard of bugs, but that could not put a damper on the day. I’d advice you to set aside 90 mins or more for lingering on overlooks and peaks, and to take a dip down in Lake George when you get to the tip of the Tongue, if not more.
On this day the conditions were a bit muddy in spots, which slows you down quite a bit. On a dry day this is 6 hours of walking. I’d recommend planning 8-9 hours or more and really enjoying it.
There are plenty of trip descriptions elsewhere on line. All I will add is that when you first get to the top of Fifth Peak, you get some much needed silence. You are a bit far away to hear the boat motors in front or the traffic on Route 9N behind – one of the decreasingly few places remaining where you hear little but your own breaths and the buzz of a menagerie of insects, and the breeze through the shrubs and trees and grasses. As you walk south down the Range, you get closer to both water and highway, and the physical solitude you are very likely to enjoy the entire time has regular interruptions by the sounds of Lake George revelry. By the time you get down from Frenchmens then First then down to Northwest Bay, you are in a veritable boating manic playground – with enormous Harley Davidson engine sounding powerboats blasting through the choppy lake, radios blasting and engine exhaust belching.
The returning 5 miles from the end of the Tongue mostly follows the lakeshore, in many spots just a few yards away. The trail is really muddy for about 30% of it, but it’s a pretty quick walk out.
It would be great to do this hike earlier in year when more wildflowers are on display and before the bugs and boaters descend on your peace of mind. Covered about 12.6 miles with detours in 7 hours.