SW Bowl is a route of primary interest for the skiers, since in summer, the mountain is much more easily accessible from the North. Nevertheless, some suggestions for summer hikers are included below.
To access the high flats South of Haystack Mountain from the plowed highway, one may follow the 4WD roads from Spring Cyn turnoff - Lambert Meadows (ca. 10 miles) or cross Pitt and Page Hill (10,213) either directly over the spine of the hill (6 miles), or from Rock Creek Canyon (5 miles). We've tried all 3 routes.
The Lambert Meadow approach is very roundabout, and it pits a skier against the 'bilers traffic, but the latter might actually turn into an advantage after exceptional snowfalls.
Rock Creek trail is the shortest route, but it crosses Provo River gorge cliffs on a steep South-facing slopes. This lower-elevation section of the trail is usually crusted and rocky, except after recent snowfalls.
Pitt and Page ridge, followed all the way from the area of Provo River overlook (or its East gully variation) may be the best option.
Pitt and Page Hill Ridge
Park at North Fk Provo River Winter TH and follow the groomed Snowmobile Collector Trail for 1/3 to 2/3 miles East. At or before Provo River Overlook, cross the road to the North and gain the low ridge. Over the next 2.5 miles, the crest of the Hill gains 1,500 ft, mostly quite gradually but with 3 short steeper sections.
The ridge is tree-covered but the views are very good. As you top 9,000 ft level, a deep chasm of Rock Creek Canyon opens to your right. The ridge circles the head of Rock Creek (joining here with the Rock Creek variation). From this point, it is another 1,000 ft to gain to the summit of Pitt & Page Hill. The shortest route to take is an ascending traverse to the left, although the snow may be better packed on the more open sunny slopes to the right.
The top of the Hill is a wide plateau with cliffy NW and SE sides, offering great views from either rim. From here, one has to drop about 600 ft to the NE, to the South Bench of Haystack Mountian and an old logging road winding its way West from Lambert Meadows. Although it may be tempting to traverse the slopes of Pitt & Page Hill below the summit plateau, to minimize the gain and loss of altitude, its steep, cliffy slopes make such a shortcut impracical.
South Bench to SW Bowl
South Bench, SW Spur, and SWBowl routes
Do not follow the logging road downslope for too long. Although eventually it will turn North towards the base of SW Spur of Haystack, it is faster to cross sparsely wooded flats at approx. 9,900 ft elevation directly to the tip of this cliffy spur ridge.
A distinct narrow tree-less bench leads North around the base of the spur. In summer, this area is all boulderhopping, and a hiker's best option may be to ascend the spur ridge directly. In winter, all but the mightiest boulders are buried. Proceed North through a narrow sliver of the evergreen woods. A steep slope interrupts the bench. One can either ascent slightly through the woods and traverse above the steep slope, or drop 50 ft into a boulder-filled depression, and reascend to the NE. We tried either way and couldn't decide which variation is better.
Turn ENE into an open depression between the trees at the bottom of the bowl and mostly open slopes to the right. (Note that one may also be able to get here from the WNW, from the Cascades area of N Fork Provo River trail) There are several ways to ascend the crest of Haystack Mountain from here. NW slopes of Hill 10,422 look good, as does a sloping bench at about 10,400 ft elevation. But we chose to skin up the headwall in the protection of the trees, since the snow was the least wind-scoured along this route. We turned right at the upper edge of the band of trees, then just cut straight over the wide summit plateau.
Band of trees on the headwall
The summit proper is the second high point from the South. It has a prominent cairn which stands at least 4 ft above the snow level. Beware of huge cornices to the East, and enjoy an unsurpassed view in all directions.
Where to Park
North Fork winter TH on Mirror Lake Hwy (SR 150) for the ridgetop route, Soapstone Turnoff winter TH two miles down the road for Rock Creek or Lambert Meadows routes. One might be able to park at a summer lot at Provo River Overlook, but it is not plowed in winter and it is impractical to do any digging of the snowbanks when a plowed trailhead is less than a mile away.