The Uinta Mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in North America that run east to west rather than north to south. Within the Uinta Mountains are about 2000 lakes, and some 900-1000 are full of trout. Along with the San Juans in Colorado, the Uintas have more contiguous area above timberline than any other area in the Continental United States. This is a beautiful area with many lakes, meadows, wildflowers, and some rugged peaks. Solitude is usually easy to come by.
Haystack Mountain is one of the lower peaks in the Uintas, but is still has some great views. The mountain is often viewed because of its proximity to Trail Lake and Bald Mountain Pass. Dozens of lakes and higher peaks are visible from the summit. Haystack is easy to climb via the north ridge. The east face is tougher, but loose rock makes it less enjoyable than other routes. The west face is seldom visited and might make an interesting climb.
Haystack as viewed from Mt. Watson.
The most popular trailhead for those climbing the peak is the one at Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake is reached from the Trial Lake spur road off Highway 150 25.7 miles east and north of Kamas. Follow the signs along the spur road to Crystal Lake. This gravel road is good for all vehicles. This is the trailhead for the north ridge; the most practical way to climb Haystack Mountain.
Shadow Lake and the steep east face of Haystack Mountain.
Routes OverviewNorth Ridge
See the route page for much more detail. Breifly put: From the trailhead up to Watson Pass. To climb Haystack Mountain, simply get on the ridge to the south of the pass and follow it to the summit. There is no trail. At first, there are a few steep sections, and some boulder-hopping, but this is a fairly easy ascent. Once one the high ridge, just follow it south to the highest summit. The hike is 2.75 miles one way to the summit.
See the route page for details. MOCKBA adds this winter route. It begins at the North Fork Provo River Trailhead and then climbs fairly gentle slopes before making the final approach up the SW Spur.
SW Cirque of Haystack in winter.
Haystack Mountain can also be climbed via the east face and Shadow Lake. This is a much steeper and more difficult route, and has loose rock. A route page will not be added for this route.
The peak can also be climbed from the west face. The west face is gentler than the east face, but the routes from there would be much longer than the North Ridge Route described above. A route page will not be added for this route, but this will give you a chance to explore on your own.
View from Haystack Mountain.
A=Notch Mountain-West Summit.
More details about the area can be found in the book Western Uinta Backcountry Guide, including many routes to the summit, and hiking trails to the many lakes, and fishing information. Just send me a PM if you want to purchase the book.
SP members can have the book for 1/2 price, and there is no shipping cost.
There is now a $3 per day use fee for parking along Highway 150. The area is in the Lakes Roadless Area and all the normal wilderness regulations apply for hikers (but not to the water district).
Dean adds: If you are 62 or older and have a Golden Age passport, it will allow you to park for free along Highway 150.
When To Climb
Highway 150 usually is plowed of snow sometime in June, but sometimes opens as early as Memorial Day or as late as July 4th. The road closes sometime in October, and always after November 1st. July through September is the normal hiking season. During this time, many, or most of the campgrounds are full. In winter, this would be a very long multi-day trip.
The steep east face of Haystack Mountain in summer.
There is a very popular and crowded (in summer) campground at Trial Lake near the trailhead. The Haystack Mountain Road, which branches off to the left just after Trial Lake and on the way to Crystal Lake has many good campsites. Make sure to drive aways down the road before camping.
Contact the ranger station in Kamas for current road and trail conditions. Their phone number is 801-783-4338.
WEATHER FORECAST FOR WESTERN UINTA MOUNTAINS
Here are some average highs and lows from Mirror Lake at 10,190 feet :