Mt. Haystack is New York State’s third highest mountain, after Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak, with a pretty amazing view. Get a spectacular vantage of Mount Marcy and the cliffs leading down into Panther Gorge from the open rocks of Little Haystack and Mt. Haystack. Break up this long and strenuous day hike over a weekend by staying at Johns Brook Lodge and maximizing your time in nature.
Trailhead: Garden in Keene Valley. There is a $7 per day fee to park in this lot, and it fills quickly on weekends. Arrive early or hike on a weekday to avoid the crowds, or park at Marcy Field and take the shuttle to the trailhead. While parking at Marcy Field is free, the shuttle only runs Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays and there is a $5 round trip fee to use it.
Base Camp: Enjoy a 3.5 mile hike on rolling terrain following a trail marked with yellow DEC disks, also known as the Phelps Trail. After 3.1 miles, at the T, turn right to follow it for another half mile or so to Johns Brook Lodge, where you’ll meet other happy hikers, enjoy a fantastic meal, and sleep with a roof over your head. Johns Brook Lodge is popular in the warmer months, so be sure to have a reservation!
The Hike: From the large signpost outside of JBL, follow the yellow blazed (Phelps) trail toward Mount Marcy for approximately 1.5 miles to a junction. Here you’ll want to take the red marked trail to the left to stay on the Phelps Trail and rock hop across Johns Brook. The Phelps Trail continues to be marked with red DEC disks for 2.8 miles, over which you’ll encounter a mix of level and moderate terrain with some steep sections, and cross Johns Brook a couple more times. You’ll then find yourself at a junction with the blue marked State Range Trail, which is what you’ll follow uphill for about a half mile to the next junction. From here, you’ll follow a yellow marked trail for 0.6 miles up and down Little Haystack and to the summit of Mt. Haystack. The route quickly rises above treeline and is marked by cairns and yellow paint blazes on the exposed rock. Take extra care if there’s rain, fog, or poor visibility not to lose the trail. From JBL, you will have gained approximately 2,790 feet of ascent! Take in the 360 degree view, grab a well-earned snack, and return the way you came. For full trail descriptions and details, refer to the High Peaks Trails guide book and Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks map.
Special Considerations: The summit of Mt. Haystack and the rocky area above treeline is home to an arctic-alpine zone, where you’ll find rare and endangered vegetation (how cool is that?!). Please walk only on solid, hard rock surfaces to protect these plants and avoid stepping on this very fragile vegetation. It only takes a few steps to kill it!
Optional Side Trip: If Haystack wasn’t enough and you want to make a longer, rugged loop, one option is to head back to Little Haystack and catch the blue-marked State Range Trail over to Basin and Saddleback to descend back to JBL via the Ore Bed Brook Trail. This is a tough hike with some steep rocks and terrain, so be sure to consult the High Peaks Trails guidebook more specifics on this route!
Get Out There:
Guide Book: High Peaks Trails, 14th edition, page 43-44.
Map: Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks Map, 14th edition
Call 518-523-3441 for reservations at Johns Brook Lodge or visit www.adk.org