Haystack Mountain is known for being one of the nicest mountains in the Adirondacks. Neighbors Basin Mountain and Saddleback Mountain hold their own as well. You could leave them for another day, but why not combine all three and complete an epic hike that ranks among the best in the Northeast?
Get to the Garden Trailhead early. This hike is long, and you’ll want plenty of time to enjoy the breathtaking views these summits offer. Plus, the parking fills up very quickly in the summer months and during weekends. A shuttle to another parking lot operates in the summer.
Follow the yellow markers for 5 miles. The fairly flat trail will take you through Johns Brook Lodge, where beds and meals are available in the summer, and to Bushnell Falls, where two lean-tos and campsites are available for backcountry camping, free of charge.
At this point, follow the red markers to the appropriately named Slant Rock, where another lean-to and campsite are available, and reach the intersection to Mount Marcy 2.8 miles later. Haystack lies 1.1 miles away. Don’t miss the viewpoint just before Little Haystack. Mount Marcy, New York’s highest point, is to your right, and to its left you can admire Skylight, New York’s fourth highest summit.
The views are even better on Little Haystack and Haystack Mountain, the third highest summit in New York. Located in the heart of the High Peaks Wilderness, it rewards hikers with 360-degree vistas of most of the Adirondacks’ highest summits. Be careful in the colder months: The area between Haystack and Little Haystack gets very icy.
Backtrack over Little Haystack to the first junction and follow the yellow markers for 1.4 miles to Basin Mountain, the ninth highest summit in New York. Soak in the views of Mount Marcy and admire the terrain you just hiked.
Saddleback Mountain is a mere mile away, but its famous wall stands in the way. While not technical, those averse to exposure might not enjoy it. There’s a chicken pass to the right of the wall, but it’s not an official trail, and it is not a reliable alternative in winter.
From Saddleback, admire the great nature you just enjoyed. This is some of the best New York has to offer. You will then descend following the blue markers via the Ore Bed Brook slide. There are hundreds of steps to ease the way down the slide, and these are snow covered in winter. You will eventually find yourself in the Johns Brook Lodge area again, and from here it is only a flat 3.1-mile hike to your car.