Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Haystack and Basin - 6/21/14

It's been 3 weeks since I posted anything.  Sorry folks!  I've got a rental house that was pretty much destroyed by my last tenants and I had to spend a great deal of time there doing repairs.  I'm not done not, so bear with me.  Anyways, this weekend had been planned for awhile the the plans weren't going to be changed to work on a house.

My wife Leesa planned this trip.  She is getting close to finishing her round of climbing the Adirondack 46 high peaks and she wanted to now tackle Haystack and Basin.  This trip is close to 20 miles as a day trip, so she wanted to break it up by staying at an ADK lean-to on the Johns Brook Lodge property.

We made reservations and got the Myers lean-to.  There are 3 lean-tos available for rent.  It's nice because you have the whole lean-to to yourself.  We were able to set up our tent inside the lean-to (to contain our dog Rev).  It eliminated any worries about her for the night.  We reserved the lean-to for both Friday and Saturday nights.

We met at Marcy Field on Friday afternoon after I got out of work.  I left my car there and we drove the other car to the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley.  We paid our $21 for 3 calendar days parking and we were on the trail at 5 PM.

It's a 3.5 mile hike to Johns Brook Lodge and the lean-tos, so we got there in plenty of time to set up before dark.  We turned in and got a great night sleep.  The temperature dropped into the low 40's. The forecast for the entire weekend was perfect so we were psyched.  

Saturday we woke early, had breakfast and were on the trail at 6:30 AM.  This was Leesa's first time on all these trails, so everything was new for her.  The Phelps trail to Slant Rock is a gentle grade and we sauntered there quite easily.

Leesa and Rev at Slant Rock
After Slant Rock, the going gets noticeably steeper.  We slowed our pace and continued on the Phelps Trail until reaching the State Range Trail.  The State Rainge Trail is rocky and steep as you make your way up towards Haystack.  You don't get rewarded with any views until you reach a small bump just shy of Little Haystack.  At this point you are rewarded with views in all directions.

A first look at Little Haystack and Haystack

The hardest part of getting to Mount Haystack is getting up Little Haystack and down the backside before you finish up the ridge of Haystack.  I fact, going down the backside of Little Haystack can get quite tricky in wintertime.  Crampons are often needed to safely descent Little Haystack.  No problems on a dry summer day however.

Heading for Haystack and looking back at Little Haystack

Skylight (L) and Marcy (R) from the ridge to Haystack

We hadn't seen anyone all morning, but ran into 3 different groups on Haystack.  It was a beautiful morning.  We were on the summit at around 10:30.  We stayed for awhile and ate an early lunch.

Little Haystack (L) and Basin (R) from Haystack

Look at Pinnacle Ridge.  No wonder I thought it was bumpy when I climbed it last fall!

Leesa on Haystack
Next we continued along on the State Range Trail towards Basin Mountain.  I recalled the last time I did the route in summer, there was only one spot to obtain water.  It was in the col between Haystack and Basin.  This time there seemed to be no shortage of places to get water.

We noticed a tent was set up at the Snobird campsite.  We continued dropping into the col.  It's a long descent before the trail begins its rise for the final .7 miles to Basin.  It's a tough .7 miles, making the climb seem much longer.

The toughest for me is the ladder, about halfway up.  I always have to grab Rev by the harness and carry her up the ladder.  She doesn't appreciate it.  It's even harder going down.

The Basin Ladder (I always have to carry Rev up and down this)

Haystack from the side of Basin

Knob to the west of Basin

Entering the Alpine Zone on Basin

We just took our time ascending Basin.  We were in no hurry.  It was a beautiful day, cool and breezy with no bugs.  The sun became more prevalent as we neared the top of Basin.  

Saddleback from Basin

We reached the summit and had it to ourselves.  We laid out on the summit and enjoyed the sunsshine.  It was just a perfect day to be in the High Peaks.  We had more food of course.  Rev made sure of that.

Saddleback Cliffs

My favorite pic from this trip (The lower Great Range, Giant and RPR from Basin)  

Zoom of Gothics (with Giant and RPR in the Background) from Basin

Leesa on Basin

Leesa and Rev on Basin (Haystack and Skylight in the background)

I spent some time looking at the knob that lies just west of Basin and decided that someday I would return to investigate.  It looks rather similar to Sheperds Tooth (south of the summit of Iroquois).


Basin from Shorey Short Cut

On the return, we took Shorey's Short Cut Trail to get back to the Phelps Trail.  We then made our way back down, taking side trips to look at the Bushnell Falls lean-tos and Bushnell Falls itself.  I was quite impressed by the new Bushnell Falls lean-to #2.  It has been beautifully made, and has been moved to a wonderful location a couple hundred yards off the trail and near an excellent water hole. 


The new Bushnell # 2 Leanto.  Awesome!

Bushnell Falls
We returned to Johns Brook Lodge to refill our water bottles.  I went inside and purchased a bowl of fabulous Vanilla Fudge Brownie ice cream.  It was the next best thing to heaven.

Afterwards we returned to our lean-to and cooked a dinner before settling in for the night at 8 PM!  Sunday morning Rev woke us up at daybreak so she could go to the bathroom.  She then went back in the tent and went back to sleep.  Leesa and I had breakfast and packed everything until it was time to kick Rev out of the tent to pack it up.  

We took the time to climb the .4 miles to the Short Job overlook before returning to the leanto to shoulder our packs and head back out to the Garden parking lot.  We were back at the car at 11 AM.  We couldn't have asked for a better weekend.  Everything went according to plan and the weather was perfect the entire time.  What more could one ask for.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  19.8 miles
Hike Time:  ~ 12 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 4000' 

Most of the route (except the early part of the Phelps Trail) 



  1. Hey! I was just admiring some of your photos! I will be traveling to the ADK's soon and was looking on some advice as to where we should stop. We will only be there for two days/1 night so I want to find an awesome spot, I am looking for a long hike with a great view where we could camp at the top or somewhere along the way. Do you have any suggestions? What has been your favorite ADK hike to this point?
    Thanks in advance for the info!!

    1. I'll need more info to narrow down what you are looking for. Approx miles, amount of vertical, abilities of those hiking, what you'd like to see...

      That would help. You can't Camp on the tip of any of the high peaks, or within 150' of the trail or water + or above 3500' (unless designated as a campsite).

  2. Planning on doing Haystack next week. Trying to decide whether I should bring my dog. Can a dog make it down the back of Little Haystack on her own? I've heard it's a steep scramble/step and I'll be going alone, so won't be able to hand the dog down to someone else.

  3. Super helpful review and great photos. Much appreciated and congrats!