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Thursday, January 9, 2014

North Pawlet Hills, Vermont(Haystack Mountain)

It's been about 6 months since I've been up to Vermont, so I was happy to get back up there for a fun day of exploration.  Haystack Mountain in Pawlet, Vt is part of the North Pawlet Hills Natural Area, with most of the land protected by the Nature Conservancy.  The summit is owned and protected by Friends of Haystack Mountain, a local group. 
Here is a view of Haystack and its rocky cliffs from Waite Hill Road.
You must park along Waite Hill Road and hike in to the trailhead up Tunket Road, which is private.
The walk up Tunket Road is half a mile up and actually a really nice addition to the hike, as you pass by Vermont farmland and woods.
After about a half mile, a large field appears on your left, where this sign greets you and is the start of the actual foot trail.
After a short distance, you come to the trail register and then descend for a little while before coming to a stream crossing.  This area could be tricky in high water, but luckily today I had sufficient ice to cross on.
Ice, ice and more ice made up much of the trail.  I wore my ice cleats, and thankfully I did because while some areas were easy to walk around the ice, other areas would've been extremely difficult without any traction.
The trail is easy to follow between the saddle of Haystack and Middle Mountains due to the ice along much of the way.
Another rocky summit, Middle Mountain rises up just north of Haystack Mountain and becomes clearly visible as the trail climbs.
After a fairly steady climb, I had worked up a pretty good sweat, and was glad to see final few yards to the summit.
Before I had even reached the rocky clearing at the very top, I was already getting a taste of the views opening up all around.
There are few summits with true 360 degree views and this is one of them.  A look to the west offers views all the way across Vermont farmland to Washington County in New York.
Middle Mountain dominates the northern viewpoints with the Green Mountains rising in the background.
Rural Vermont countryside.
Views to the east of the Mettowee Valley.
Although only a modest 1919 feet elevation at the summit, the sheer cliffs and dramatic outcrops of slate and quartzite make this a truly memorable place.
The sun was shining brightly over the southerly views of Route 30 and dairy farms.
I lingered at the summit for about a half hour and soaked in the beautiful vistas all around me.  The sun shining strongly made it feel great at the top, making me forget that it was January.
Northeast views all the way to Coolidge Range.
A glimpse of the rocky cliffs that make up the summit area.
From a shoulder of the mountain you can clearly look back up at the rocky summit.
Route 30 west, hemmed in by mountains.  Burt Hill is in the foreground and the Pattern mountain range is just to the southwest.
Dairy farms dot the landscape of the westerly views of Route 30 as it runs to the New York border.
It is said that westerly views provide views all the way to Glens Falls on a clear day such as this.
Northwest views towards Granville, NY and Poultney, Vt.
The hike, including the private road is 3 miles round trip, with some steeper sections that can make it challenging depending on the season.  The excellent views make it a must for anyone in the area.
Haystack, Middle and Bald Mountains all rise steeply above the landscape from south to north and locals refer to these mountains as the Three Sisters.
On the return trip home, stopped by One World Conservation Center in Bennington, Vt.
Jewett Creek runs through the property with views to the west of Mount Anthony.
A nice stroll through mixed hardwoods.
This is a nice area, perfect for a pleasant stroll with no strenuous or challenging areas.  Dogs are welcomed and on my way back to the car I passed someone taking their dog out for a nice afternoon walk.
 The drive home from Vermont never disappoints.  One of my favorite backroads to take is Carpenter Hill Road in Pownal with its far views and beautiful rolling hills.
Spectacular views back over the Bennington Valley.
Views west towards the Taconic Range.
Had a great day altogether.  After an absence of several months, I remembered today why I love Vermont.  

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