Number 3 on the list of High Peaks, Mount Haystack is considered one of the most difficult peaks to ascend. Its long distance and harsh landscape make it an especially demanding hike. It is also typically climbed with Little Haystack, which adds to the total change in elevation for the day.
The mountain gets its name from its bald summit. The smooth dome shaped top is thought to resemble a hay stack.
At around 18 miles round trip, this is a very long hike which may require you to be prepared to stay overnight. It is recommended that you attempt this hike only in good weather.
The primary trailhead begins at The Garden at Keene Valley. If the lot is full, overflow parking is available at Marcy Field, with a a shuttle running between the Garden and Marcy Field. However, be aware that the walk back to Marcy Field is quite long and you may come back down the mountain after the last shuttle has run.
The terrain at the beginning of the trail is quite easy. You’ll pass over pretty rolling hills until a steep drop at Johns Brook Lodge. Continue on toward Bushnell Falls. These falls are small, but very pretty. Along this path you will also pass Bear Brook and Deer Brook and their respective lean-tos.
Once you pass the Bushnell Falls lean-to, the climb becomes a bit more moderate, but more constant. You will reach Slant Rock which gives way to a very steep climb up to the Marcy Trail. Keep left and continue up the steep climb where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Little Haystack and Haystack.
From here, there will be a short descent to the base of the tree line. Then you will begin the climb up Little Haystack, where there is no further protection from the elements. From here on it can be quite windy. After another short descent you’ll start the final climb to the summit of Haystack. While the climb is exposed and steep, the view from the bald top is unobstructed and well worth the effort.