Basin is reached by a challenging route with many steep rocks and narrow ledges, but the views are some of the finest in the mountains.
This is a tough hike in the summer, so winter trekkers should bring camping equipment and supplies in case of weather.
Via Shorey Shortcut
From the Garden Trailhead you will have a mellow snowshoe for the first 3.5 miles to Johns Brook Lodge. From JBL continue straight toward Bushnell Falls. Continue past Bushnell Falls and pass by Slant Rock as well. Just past Slant Rock Shorey Shortcut comes in on your left. The section of trail is really no shortcut as it is a demanding section of trail with a serious descent at the end. You gain and lose a ton of elevation just getting to the base of Basin.
From the base of Shorey you come to an intersection, left is what you want to access Basin. The climb from here is relentless, and some of the steepest you can encounter in the High Peaks. You will eventually come to the open summit. The trail to Saddleback heads right over the summit. It is shorter and less time consuming to just go over Saddleback rather than retrace your steps.
From Saddleback Mountain
(Please see the page on Saddleback in regard to the Orebed Trail) If you are coming from Saddleback, which is slightly against the grain, as most do Basin first, you will have the cliffs to contend with, which is preferred to climb up them rather than down. The cliffs are a short distance from the summit of Saddleback. When descending them keep your center of gravity low by sitting and moving yourself slowly forward. An ice axe is a nice piece of equipment to have for this section as a tool to slow down a potential slide.
At the base of the cliff the trail is very steep but straight forward. The climb up Basin is a steep one as well, so be prepared again for a tough climb.
Most Popular Winter Trailhead
Round Trip Distance
17.4 miles, Loop with Saddleback 16.5 miles, Loop with Basin and Haystack 18.6 miles
Average Round-trip Time
11 to 12 hours, 10 to 11 hours with Saddleback Mountain, 12 to 14 hours with Basin and Haystack
Winter Obstacles to be Aware Of
Basin is fairly well sheltered but steep terrain can make this difficult. The cliffs on the Basin side of Saddleback are dangerous in the winter and much better to be climbing than descending if you plan to do a traverse. Heavy winds and whiteout conditions can exist. Deep wind chill can also be a factor.
An ice ax is helpful if you plan to do the cliffs and traverse with Saddleback. Wind and cold protection is a must.
A bit of history is still embedded on the summit with the large bolt placed in the rock near the east side of the summit, a reminder of Verplanck Colvin's 1876 survey of the Adirondacks.
Basin is 4,827 feet in elevation and number nine on the list of Adirondack High Peaks.
The Garden parking area in Keene Valley.Challenging, 14-mile round trip hike.