Number seven-teen in order of height in the Adirondacks; Saddleback sits near the Eastern end of what is considered the most spectacular stretch of trail in the Adirondacks. This trail has many sections of steep rock, crosses a good deal of open ground, and is very treacherous when wet or iced over. This first section of the trail coming from the E (Gothics), though steep and slippery when wet, is not as exposed as the section continuing on to Basin. This section is very exposed with a good likelihood of a 300-foot fall for the unwary. A rope may be required in this section if the party is older/younger or inexprianced in exposed open rock scrambling.
Care should be taken when attempting this trail with backpacks. It is far better to skirt around it and then do it as a day trip.
Like Basin, Saddleback has a very dramatic exposed W side the result of a landslide many years ago. The peak also has great views of Gothics, Marcy, the W side of Haystack, and the rugged trail up to Basin. The peak has two summits (a rare thing in the Adirondacks) which are connected by a dipping ridgeline. The High point by about 60 feet is the summit to the W.
As Saddleback sits in the middle of the Great Range it is accessible from at least four main trailheads. The normal route is to start at the trail junction between Gothics and Saddleback and head W or one can start at the other end and head E.
The normal route is to start from the Gardens at Keen up the Phelps trail, to the Interior Outpost, and from there, either go directly up to the E start of the trail, by taking the Ore Bed Trail or going around to the W start of the trail by continuing down the Phelps trial.
Another popular route is to start at Adirondack Loj and up the Van Hoevenberg Trail taking the cutoff for Haystack just before the treeline at Marcy. Parking is available at both trailheads for a small fee but the Gardens lot is small and fills up quickly. There is a shuttle bus from Keen Valley Airport to the Gardens that has been running over the past few years in summer.
Other options include approaching from Elk Lake and heading in on the Elk Lake Marcy trail (go to the Dix mountain page for exact directions for this trailhead) or through the many trails of Adirondack Mountain Reserve see the page on Dial or Nipple Top for exact directions to this trailhead.
Parking can be a problem at the Gardens in Keen. Make sure your read the red tape sections for the Adirondack Mountian Reserve and Elk Lake areas if you are starting from either of these two places.
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.
Any time of the year is good.
Winter can be a lot of fun because the area is well-exposed quite dramatic.
Same as for all Adirondack mountains.
1) No Camping above 4,000 feet
2) No camping within 150 feet of a stream or other water source except at a designated campsite.
3) No soap or washing within 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)
John Brooks Lodge has a few spaces available during the summer as well as meals, but don't count on getting in.
Adirondack Loj is available all year round but is usually always fully booked.
When looking at the peak the prominent dip or saddle between the two peaks becomes very obvious. This inspired the locals to call this peak the Saddleback.