Haystack is an outstanding adventure for the entire family and a great introduction to the area for those new to hiking. This Haystack should not be confused with the third highest High Peak, Mount Haystack, which is 4,960 feet high and located near Mount Marcy. Haystack is one of the mountains required to complete the Saranac Lake 6er hiking challenge.
- Distance: 3.3 miles to the summit
- Elevation: 2,878 feet
- Ascent: 1,240 feet
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.
The 3.3-mile-long trail begins easy and gets quite steep before the summit ledge, where there are outstanding views. The trail 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 Haystack Mountain trail on the left in 2.4 miles. After the intersection, the trail crosses a dam and begins an aggressive climb. At 3 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.
This is a fairly challenging snowshoe to a fantastic view of the High Peaks. Snowshoes are necessary to avoid postholing 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.
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