From the parking area, this 1.5 mile trail begins with a moderate climb through dry oak woodlands and culminates with a steep but worthwhile final ascent. From this modest 1,919-foot summit, hikers on the Conservancy’s trail can see the sweep of the distant Adirondacks and Green Mountains; can look westward to Glens Falls, NY; and southward beyond the fields and villages of the Mettowee Valley, to Mount Equinox in Manchester.
Generations of Pawlet families – and visitors from around the world – have climbed the steep slopes to the top of Haystack Mountain to take in the spectacular 360-degree views of Bald and Middle Mountains, the north-south forested hills and the serene Mettowee Valley. This preserve features a series of rounded, forested peaks in the northern Taconic Mountains, clustered in an extensive landscape of unbroken forest. Locals call Haystack, Middle and Bald Mountains the Three Sisters. Warm southern aspect and shallow soils produce drought-like conditions on the hills and promote the growth of several unusual natural communities, including dry oak woodlands and dry oak-hickory-hophornbeam forests. Turkeys, grouse and bobcats roam the rocky landscape. Peregrine falcons sometimes nest on the cliffs of Haystack. These forested hills also provide nesting habitat for neotropical migrant songbirds that rely on unfragmented forest blocks.
Visit The Nature Conservancy in Vermont online for more information or contact Murray McHugh, Critical Lands Manager for Southern VT:
From Pawlet Village follow Route 30 north for about 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Waite Road (Waite Hill Road on some maps). Go about a mile, looking on the left for a gravel road with green Tunket Road sign. Park on the shoulder of Waite Road and please take care not to block entrance to fields. Please do not drive up Tunket Road. Visitors should hike from here, up Tunket Road for about a 0.5 mile to the Conservancy’s Colby Chester trailhead (on left). From there the trail, named for a Conservancy donor, climbs steeply to Haystack’s summit.
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