• Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    18 Miles

Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

This hike will award you with stunning views and fun rock scrambles!!

This hike starts in the Garden Parking Lot in Keene Valley, NY. The Garden parking lot (operated by the town of Keene) costs $7 per day from late April through the end of October (2014 rate). An attendant is on duty 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Fridays and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Town employees and DEC rangers monitor the lot during the week.

When the lot is full, free overflow parking is available at Marcy Airfield 2.5 miles north of Keene Valley. There is a $5 round-trip charge to ride the shuttle the 3.5 miles to the Garden trailhead. The shuttle operates from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from late May to mid-October.

The first 3.5 miles to Johns Brook Lodge are an enjoyable grade. Shortly after you reach the Lodge I recommend taking the .01 mile descent left to Bushnell Falls. Returning back to trail continue to Slant Rock. Shortly after Slant Rock you can take Shorey's Shortcut. Do not be fooled by the word "shortcut". This is a steep 1.1 mile trail to the col between Haystack and Basin. It does feature some fun scrambles and ladders. Once in the col you will turn right and make your way to the last junction before Haystack. From here it is 0.5 miles to the summit however you must climb over Little Haystack first! There is a lot of fun scrambling here. The views along this stretch are amazing!.. Once on the summit you will see several surrounding high peaks including Basin your next stop. Now return back over Little Haystack and to the col you reached earlier.

You will now head straight (instead of returning to Shorey's Shortcut) to Basin. From here it is 0.7 miles to the summit of Basin. Along the way are some scrambles and a ladder. Once you reach the "Artic Zone" sign you know you are close. The summit of Basin again has amazing views including Haystack, where you just came from.

Now on to the infamous Saddleback cliffs!! Approximately 0.75 miles after Basin you will get your first view of the cliffs you must climb to reach Saddlebacks summit from this approach. Once at the base of the cliffs you will see the yellow blazes advising you of the route up. You are exposed here and near vertical in some spots however, climbing gear is not required. Once you climb the cliffs its a short walk to the summit. As with the entire hike views are stunning, including Basin where you just came from. Now to return but still lots of hiking to do!

You will return via the Ore Bed Trail. The slide is quite impressive. Though you can choose to descend via the slide you can also use some newly constructed stairs along a portion. After this point you will return back to Johns Brook Lodge for the last few miles out to the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Headlamp
  • Camera
  • Snowshoes (Winter)
  • Crampons (Winter)
  • Ice Ax (Winter)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Rebecca Nichols Explorer

I hike to push my limits both mentally and physically, take in the beauty of the great outdoors, and just to get away from it all. Every chance I get you will find me in the mountains, on a kayak or ending my day by the campfire!

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