Not to be confused with the High Peak Mountain Haystack, this one is in Ray Brook and offers a friendlier climb. It features a pleasant woods walk with a final steep climb leads to an open rock face and ledge. There are 180-degree views of Whiteface, the High Peaks, and the Saranac Lakes chain.
How to get there
From downtown Saranac Lake, take Route 86 east toward Lake Placid. Continue for a little over 5 miles and look for the large parking area on the left.
By the numbers
- Distance: 3.3 miles to the summit
- Elevation: 2,878 feet
- Ascent: 1,240 feet
The 3.3-mile-long trail begins easy and gets quite steep before the summit ledge, where there are outstanding views. The trail, which in the beginning leads to both Haystack and McKenzie, follows gentle ups and downs as it passes through an attractive forest at the base of Little Burn Mountain. The path swings right at 1.5 miles, then descends to Ray Brook before climbing moderately to the trail junction at 2.4 miles. To hike Haystack, take the left hand trail. Staying to the right will lead you to the even bigger McKenzie. After the intersection, the trail crosses a dam and begins an aggressive climb. At 3.0 miles the path climbs steeply up an eroded gully and views begin to appear. The open ledge is reached in 3.3 miles. The views to the south are outstanding and the High Peaks in the background look especially big.
Haystack Mountain in the winter
This is a fairly challenging snowshoe to a fantastic view of the High Peaks. Snowshoes are necessary to avoid post-holing through the snowpack, and snow spikes are required to ascend the mountain's steeper sections. Extra layers of non-cotton clothing, a windbreaker, emergency blanket, first-aid kit, headlamp with extra batteries, and plenty of food and water are essential items for any winter excursion. The extra layers and windbreaker are especially important on the exposed summit, which will be much colder than the lower sections of the mountain.