Mount Haystack, the third highest peak in the Adirondacks, was named by Keene Valley guide Orson “Old Mountain” Phelps in 1849. In August of that year, Phelps, along with Almeron Oliver and George Estey passed over Haystack on the way to Mount Marcy, recording the first known ascent of the 4,960-foot peak. The inspiration for the name comes from the pointed shape of the rocky summit. Phelps observed that “the mountain was a great stack of rock, but that in form it resembled a stack of hay,” and thus began to refer to it as Haystack (Carson 102) .

Considering Haystack’s location in the shadow of the neighboring Mount Marcy, it is only fitting that its history is defined by being repeatedly overshadowed by the tallest peak in New York. While early measurements wrongly placed Mount Seward, Santanoni, and Dix all above 5,000 feet in elevation, Mount Haystack and Mount Skylight were believed to be inferior to all of these peaks. Meteorologist William C. Redfield and geologist Ebeneezer Emmons made no mention of either mountains following their Mount Marcy ascent. Nineteenth century climbers of Marcy continued to ignore Haystack and Skylight until Verplanck Colvin’s 1873 survey revealed that these mountains were the third and fourth highest peaks respectively.

Despite being overlooked for several decades, Mount Haystack has become a favorite of many Adirondack 46ers. The stunning views from its rocky summit, located in the center of the High Peaks Wilderness, are difficult to top. Haystack is also one of the most difficult high peaks, requiring an average of 17.8 miles and over twelve hours for most experienced hikers to complete. These two factors- its beauty and difficulty- make Haystack a popular mountain for many 46ers to finish their High Peaks journey on.

View of Mount Haystack (right) and Mount Marcy (left) from Mount Skylight

“Mount Haystack: Third Tallest Adirondack High Peak.” Adirondack.net, 2019, www.adirondack.net/business/mount-haystack-11070/.