Haystack of Ray Brook

Track/Trail from AllTrails app

Trailhead: McKenzie/Haystack Trailhead, Rte. 86, Ray Brook, NY
Distance: 7 miles (AllTrails); 6.6 miles (Guidebook)
Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
Date: 8/20/2016

We are ON A ROLL!  Louise and the boys have now been hiking three weekends in a row!  I've joined them for the last two to Goodman and today to Haystack (not the high peak).  Having completed the Tupper Lake Triad, it was time to move on to its bigger, meaner brother, the Saranac Lake Six.  We've already done Baker Mtn. twice (sorry, no blog posts) and I've done McKenzie, Ampersand, and St. Regis (almost twice) on other trips.  We (I) decided that with a beautiful weather forecast, and the upcoming return of students to Clarkson University, where I work, today was the day to try Haystack.

We were on the trail, dogs and all, at 10AM.  The trailhead is right along rte. 86 in Ray Brook, on the way to Lake Placid. There were a few other cars in the lot, but nothing crazy.  The trail is, as advertised, easy to start, and we banged out the first 2.4 miles in about an hour and a little more, without any breaks.  This section of the trail gradually creeps along up and down until about 1.8 miles, when it starts a gradual uphill along Little Ray Brook.  This section of the trail is serene and beautiful, with small waterfalls punctuating the small stream's steady babble as you gradually hike along its length.

Ruins below the junction
Old dam and small reservoir

Just before the trail junction where one goes right to McKenzie and left to Haystack, there are some ruined foundations from an earlier age. Immediately after the junction there is a small dam and reservoir. At this point the trail starts to climb in earnest and the going started to get pretty tough.  But with less than a mile left to the summit, spirits remained high.

The family climbing one of the steeper sections

Views of the High Peaks
Views of the Ray Brook Prison and Western High Peaks

As one gets closer and closer to the summit, the trail gets steeper and steeper, eventually becoming very steep, but the views also start to show up as the tree cover thins. Once this happens, the summit appears quickly.  It is a moderately sized bare face looking to the south and east, with a beautiful panorama of the High Peaks Wilderness.  But it is not the 360 degree view that we have had on some other trips (Colden, McIntyre Range).

Panorama, with moving people pixelating
After a brief rest on the summit, I went looking for views of McKenzie Mtn., but couldn't find a good opening in the trees to get a good look.  I returned to eat lunch and rest up before heading back down. All in all it took us 5 hours to get up and down the mountain, including a relatively long rest at the dam to refill water bottles. Everyone enjoyed the hike, not least our two dogs.



With another peak in our pockets, we began the drive home, but before getting too far, we stopped, as usual, for Donnelly's Ice Cream where we got a big surprise - today's flavor was Black Cherry twisted with Blackberry.  It was delicious.

Goodman Mountain and the Tupper Lake Triad

View of Coney Mountain and south from Goodman

Trailhead: Goodman Mountain, south of Tupper Lake on Rte. 30
Distance: Total 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Date: 8/14/2016

There is some great short hiking near Tupper Lake, NY.  We have previously hiked Arab Mountain (to the west of Tupper Lake) on a number of occasions (most notably, this time).  That is a short hike with a few steep sections and with beautiful views from its fire tower.  We have also hiked Coney Mountain a couple of years ago while staying at Lake Eaton Campground. That is another short hike, this time to a bald peak (no fire tower).  In early August, while I was off galavanting around Southern California with friends watching baseball, my wife, boys, and dogs, did another climb of Arab and heard from the steward about the Tupper Lake Triad and the third of the peaks, Goodman Mountain. Excited about the prospect of completing a list (even one we didn't previously know about) and with a trip to Fish Creek Ponds planned for the next weekend, it was clear what had to be done.

So, after a couple of days of off and on rain showers at Fish Creek, on Sunday the 14th the sky seemed to clear and we made our plan to climb Goodman Mountain.  The trailhead is well-marked, with plenty of parking, and the trail itself is handicapped accessible for about a quarter of a mile.  In fact the trail is paved and mostly flat for nearly an entire mile before turning sharply to the left and heading up hill.  At that point there is a set of stone stairs and the trail climbs steadily (but not too steeply) as it winds its way around the northeastern side of the mountain and then up to the summit. It was pretty easy going the whole way.

All of us (minus our picture-taker) at the top

At the summit (about 1.75 miles from the trailhead), there are good views to the south (unfortunately not to the north towards Tupper Lake), and on the beautiful Sunday morning that we were there, our views were nearly endless.

Like the other two Triad peaks, this one is an excellent short day hike (2 hours) and would work well for any child two years old or older.  In fact, the Triad would be very doable for most people in a single day.  If coming from the North (Potsdam, Canton and environs) I would start at Arab, eat lunch at the Main St. Restaurant, then head to Coney and Goodman which are practically right next to each other.

Unfortunately, on this day, as we earned our patch, the True Value hardware store in Tupper Lake was closed, so we couldn't get our patches, but we can't wait to drive through again to pick them up - one for everyone, even the dogs!

Summer and Winter Patches

The AllTrails track