OverviewHaystack lords over the Deerfield Valley in Windham County, Vermont. Located at the south end of the Deerfield Ridge, its pointed cone stands out among the rounded hills and flat ridges of the area. As a result of this cone shape, the mountain is blessed with some steep ledges right at the summit, which offer wide views to the north, east, and south.
Looking south and east from Haystack, it appears to be an extremely prominent peak. Low hills in Massachusetts and New Hampshire stretch out into the distance, interrupted only by Mt. Monadnock and Mt. Greylock. In fact, on a clear day, from the certain spots around Amherst, MA Haystack and the Deerfield Ridge loom large in the distance, almost 50 miles away. However, to the north and west, Haystack is surrounded by many higher peaks. Closest by is Mount Snow, on the north end of the Deerfield Ridge. The tallest ones visible are Killington Peak and Glastenbury Mountain, which can only be seen through the trees looking west.
A few hundred feet below the summit, and seemingly straight down, is Haystack Pond. The town of Wilmington uses this small lake as a reservoir, and it is completely pristine and undeveloped. Unfortunately, it is also off limits. The view of the lake from the summit is particularly beautiful, at lest.
Haystack is a short, relatively easy hike, for a mountain of its size. Roads go partway up. The route is about 2.5 miles long, and gains 1000 feet of elevation.
Getting ThereThe trail begins at the top of an unusual real estate development called Chimney Hill that I can only think to describe as a rural condo complex. The tangle of interconnecting dirt roads associated with Chimney Hill makes the trailhead somewhat difficult to locate. I would suggest using a map, but these directions may serve okay.
On VT Route 9, about 2 miles west of the traffic light in Wilmington, turn onto Haystack Road at a large Chimney Hill sign. Follow this to an intersection with an even larger Chimney Hill sign, and here take a left on Chimney Hill road. Stay on Chimney Hill road for a few miles, until it ends. Then turn left onto Upper Dam road. After a twist or two, just before the road crosses a small stream, there is a rocky woods road that branches off to the right and an old peeling sign with a couple letters of the word "Haystack" on it. This is the trailhead, you can park on the side of the road.
The trail follows the woods road for less than a mile. Then, at a no trespassing sign, it splits off to the left, crosses a small stream, and goes into the woods. A small triangular blue blaze marks this junction. The trail is easy to follow as it climbs up to the ridge and traverses just below the ridgetop for while. Just after the trail passes between two ledges on either side, the spur to the summit branches off to the right. This is short and fairly steep, and rises into some beautiful boreal forest.
Red TapeThe area around Haystack Pond is closed, because it is a water supply area. An enormous number of no trespassing signs attest to this fact.
CampingMost of the mountain is within the Green Mountain National Forest, so their rules for camping apply. Haystack is primarily a day hike destination, though.
External LinksAbout Haystack Ski Area (you can see one lift pole from the summit)