The numbers in parentheses shown in this fashion (ADK #123, McM #284) on this page and on all other pages of Adirondack Journey, refer to the trail numbers that have been assigned by the State. These will be found in the text of this website when any trail is referred to. ADK guidebook, entitled "Guide to Adirondack Trails" and the McMartin guidebooks. Those of you that rely on one or the other guidebook should be SURE to bring the appropriate map else the numbering will
Access to the Trails of the Johns Brook Valley
Two trails, the Johns Brook Trail (ADK #1, McM #108) marked with YELLOW markers and the Southside Trail (ADK #3, McM #111) marked with RED markers, follow the north and south banks of Johns Brook to a major convergence of trails in the proximity of Johns Brook Lodge (JBL), a wilderness lodge owned and operated by ADK. Johns Brook Trail starts at the Garden. Southside branches off Johns Brook Trail a short distance from the trailhead, and crosses to the opposite side of Johns Brook. It then follows the brook to the JBL property.
Direct access provided by The Garden and its trails:
Mt Marcy, Mt Haystack, and the Panther Gorge Cirque
Hikers have access to trails to the Marcy-Haystack regions which comprise the SW end of The Great Range. These are the Phelps Trail (ADK #1, McM #124) marked with YELLOW (at start) and RED (at finish) markers and the Hopkins Trail (ADK #2, McM #123) marked with YELLOW markers. Note that this is not the shortest route to either peak.
Central and East Sections of The Great Range.
Also, the Range Trail (sometimes called the Great Range Trail), starts at JBL with the ADK Trail to Upper Wolf Jaws, Armstrong, and Gothics Mtns (ADK # 4, McM #117-118), which is marked BLUE among the peaks of the Upper Range and RED in the Lower Range . The Ore Bed Brook Trail (ADK #8, McM #119), marked BLUE, runs from JBL to the Saddleback-Gothics col. These two trails from JBL have the effect of dividing up the Range Trail into the digestible bits that most hikers can deal with. Few seek to hike the Range from end to end in one shot.
Yard and Big Slide Mtns, Klondike Pass
A loop from JBL around Yard and Big Slide Mtns (ADK #13 & 14, McM 113 & 114 & 115), RED markers, intersects the Klondike Pass Trail (ADK #12, McM #130), also RED. Another route to Big Slide is the Brothers Trail (ADK #15, McM #112), RED trail markers, which is the only other trail that starts at The Garden besides the Johns Brook and Southside Trails. The aforementioned Klondike Pass Trail connects the South Meadow, a trailhead in the vicinity of Adirondack Loj, to JBL and the Johns Brook Valley.
The Garden: Getting There and Parking There
The Garden is located west off Rte 73 in Keene Valley. Heading north on Rte 73, at about the center of this very small town, you will find a large DEC sign that reads "High Peaks Wilderness Area and Johns Brook". It is adjacent to the Ausable Inn (see first photo below) on the left side of the road. Follow the DEC sign 1.5 miles to the Garden, crossing Johns Brook en route. The parking lot holds on the order of 50 vehicles. A parking fee of $5.00/day is charged as of 2002. This rate is volatile, but worth the price.
The Garden is generally full on weekends, even on rainy days. Weekdays and after Labor Day parking there is less of a problem. Be prepared with an alternate plan if the Garden is full because parking on the highway anywhere on the access road to the Garden will very definitely result in being towed. This is absolutely guaranteed since the road is private land and its owners live on-site. You have the following decent options if you find the lot full.
First, if the lot is open and the attendant is on duty, you can wait in line until a car leaves and makes a space. Allowing that getting to the overflow parking and back may occupy as much as an hour of your time, this is worth trying, particularly as cars are exiting the lot frequently.
If that fails, use the overflow parking at Marcy Field. The attendant can give you instructions which are basically these, as she told me. A bus runs from the Gardens to Marcy Field (and back), which is a big empty field/airport just north of Keene Valley on Rte 73. It carries just hikers and their gear. You should call to get the hours. The question is, who do you call? Try "The Mountaineer" outdoor gear store in Keene Valley first, since they seem to be up on everything that's happening vis-à-vis hiking. If that fails, you might try the Keene Valley Town Hall or Adirondack Loj. To get to Marcy Field, drive back down to Rte 73 and turn north. The field is a few miles on your left once onto Rte 73. You'll see it. The bus runs Sat-Sun and Holidays.
A very good option if your primary destination is JBL and/or the mountains in that vicinity, is to change trailheads. Drive to South Meadow near Adirondack Loj (off Adirondack Loj Rd.) and hike in via the Klondike Pass Trail (ADK #12, McM #130), marked RED, to JBL. Quite frankly, Klondike Pass is a much more interesting trail, particularly if you've hiked the Johns Brook Trail before. It is a little longer, but it's a better hike with better scenery.
The Garden & The Johns Brook Trail:
The Garden is the second most frequented Adirondack trailhead despite the $5.50 per day parking fee in 2004 charged by the Town of Keene Valley which owns the site. I'm sure it has gone up since then. If the cost of parking is a problem for you, call the
The Garden provides very convenient access to the Johns Brook area including all peaks bordering Johns Brook. Not that many years ago the Garden was unattended and parking was free. These were known as "the good old days". There were no Porta-Potties and the parking was about as you see it now. In the 70's and 80's, the The Johns Brook Trail, the principal trail that follows Johns Brook to the interior as well as to Johns Brook Lodge, had become a quagmire due to over-use and neglect.
Today, through the efforts of NYSDEC, the Town of Keene Valley, and volunteer trail crews the trails out of the Garden are excellent and the parking lot is attended. In addition there is a large overflow lot located about 7 miles away for high-use periods with transportation to/from the trailhead.
Regarding overflow parking, there is an overflow parking lot in a field on Rte 73 about halfway between the towns of Keene and Keene Valley. A bus will transport those parking in the overflow lot to the Garden. There is a charge.
This is a very busy trailhead. To get a spot and avoid the necessity of being transported by bus to/from the overflow lot seven miles away, arrive early (< 9 am) or arrive in the mid-to-late afternoon when a lot of the cars belonging to those hikers returning to their vehicles will be departing.
If you arrive when the attendant is not on duty, a self sign-in procedure is in effect which requires that you fill out a blank sign-in form. Instructions regarding payment are included.... we think. You can see that on the day I snapped the photo the parking superintendent has started to queue up cars in the center of the lot. The area shown is about 90% of the parking area at The Garden. The registra-tion sign-up booth for hikers is barely visible just left of the blue Porta-Potty at the far end.