Number three in height in the Adirondack range and the one that offers the most challenging climb of any of them especially in winter. The direct route from the south side along Bratlett Ridge offers the steepest and fastest height gain in the area. Starting at Upper Ausable Lake the trail gains almost 1000m in less than 6 km and over 400m in the last 500m alone. The trail is badly eroded with a large number of cliffs, ledges and few resting areas. The final few hundred meters follows a series of cairns over bare rock to the summit.
I have been told that the best view of Marcy and the other peaks of the great range can been seen from here. As for myself, I can not say, since the day I did it I was heavily overcast and I could hardly see the cairn trail leading down the north side.
Unfortunately this is not a recommended peak for day trippers as it lies at the very heart of the great range and all three routes to the summit trail are one way hikes of at least 10-15km over very uneven ground.
One can reach it all the way from Adirondack Loj taking the Van Hoevenberg all the way cutting off to the left just before the tree line at Marcy to get to the North side of the trail.
Once can also approach from Keen up the Phelps trail where the ground is more level but usually quite wet but it is a very long slog over 15km one way. But there are lots of camping opportunities along the way.
The final approach is from the south going though the Adirondack Mountain Reserve land to the Warden’s camp and up the north trail. You can either stay on the north side and ascend Sawteeth or take the southern route and bag Covin while you are at it. Either way this is the longest route from 15 to 20 km and the one with the largest number of restrictions.
As of June 30th, 2001 all parties regardless of size in the Eastern Zone (High Peaks) of the Park must fill in and possess a self-issuing "trip ticket," which may be obtained at the trailhead. People have been fined and turned around for not having one and at the more popular trailheads the Ranger on duty will not let you pass without one. This can cause some delays in getting onto the trail.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve despite its name is not public land but a private club on which we hikers and climbers enjoy the privileged to cross. Over the years these rights have come and gone but fortunately in 1978 the State of New York bought the high land surrounding the Club and with it got a permanent public easements for foot travel over some of the trails on AMR land. However, as our part of the deal while on or within 100m of ARM land the following rules apply
1) No camping, fishing or hunting
2) No off-trail travel including rock climbing or bushwhacking along the shores of the Lower Ausable Lake.
3) No boating or swimming, including portable boats brought by the public
4) NO DOGS or other pets are permitted
When To Climb
Any time of the year is OK but the South face can be tricky in wet weather. In winter crampons are recommend.
Same as for all Adirondack mountians.
1) No Camping above 4,000 feet
2) No camping withing 150 feet of a stream or other water source except at a designated campsite.
3) No soap or washing withing 150 feet of water
4) Pack it in Pack it out is the rule for garbage
5) Only dead and down wood can be used for fires and set in a proper fire pit. ( local etiquette is to use a stove and not a fire)
some good links
Adirondack Hiking Portal
What's in a Name
This name come to us from Old Mountain Phelps in August 1849 when he, Almeron Oliver, and George Estey made the first recorded assent.
Phelps was said to at first call this peak a 'great stack of rock' but despite that he then decided to call it Haystack and the name has stuck ever since.
When one see the mountain one will know why it is called Haystack. Large and imposing it does look like a giant Haystack.