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 very demanding climb, and one that is often paired with Haystack and Saddleback (affectionately know as HaBaSa). 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.
*If you are doing Basin as part of a Great Range loop from AMR, this hike will require a parking reservation from May 1 - October 31. Please plan accordingly. Visit www.HikeAMR.org for more information and to reserve your parking spot.*
How to get there
Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, heading east toward Keene and Keene Valley. After about 19 miles, in downtown Keene Valley, turn right at the large wooden DEC sign for the Garden parking lot. This turn is also about 12 miles from Exit 30 on I-87.
Note: There is a small fee to park at the Garden. Parking here is limited and the lot fills up early most weekend mornings, especially in summer.
By the numbers
- Elevation: 4,827 feet
- Elevation gain: 2,870 feet from Johns Brook Valley
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
- Basin is High Peak #9
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. You can either take the "short cut" or continue on the State Range Trail, which will lead you to a stunning view before you turn and head toward 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.
For those coming from Saddleback ...
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. 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.
Basin is fairly well sheltered but steep terrain can make this difficult in winter. 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. This is a tough hike in the summer, so winter trekkers should bring camping equipment and supplies in case of weather.