Haystack Mountain is a seldom climbed peak in the Uinta Mountains, yet it is one of the most easily accessible peaks. It's just off the Mirror Lake Highway and a backdrop for many of the lakes right off the highway.
Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Summit Elevation: 10,985 feet
Access Rating: Level 1
Kid Difficulty Rating: Hard
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From the parking lot, take the trail west above Crystal Lake. Within a short distance, a sign points to a trail on the right to Cliff Lake. Continue straight as the trail works west around Crystal Lake and several small ponds. Before a mile, the trail begins to switchback to a pass between Haystack Mountain and Mount Watson. Leave the trail here and climb south through easy terrain up the north ridgeline of Haystack Mountain. Most of this off trail route is still shaded and easy as the topography doesn't get too steep. Around 10,600 feet the route breaks tree line and some boulder hopping is required. The summit ridgeline is well over a mile long so make sure the weather is good. If you're just out for a good view, climb to a good spot and call it good. If you want the summit, you'll need to climb over two false summits. All along the way are big cairns getting your hopes up that the top is near. The pictures below give an idea about which summit to obtain. I recomend stopping at the second as the third one is only 2 feet higher according to the map but I believe it is in error. Walking between the two, the western one sure seemed higher. A loop trip could be made by dropping off the south ridge and taking trails back to the parking lot.
It's a long way for 2 feet higher and the true summit
From the first false summit, looking at the second false summit
Just out of the trees, looking at false summit one on right and number two on left
Break time before it became 100% snow to the ridgetop
Water just makes it more fun
Peak 11,260 in the distance to the west
Pano looking west from the true summit. Second false summit is on far right and looks higher (which I believe it actually is)
Pano looking north from the first false summit. Ridge traverse from treeline is visible as the strip of snow in the center left
From the true summit looking back to a false summit that now looks higher (I think it is)
Taking break on second false summit...should have stayed there.
Looking east to the Granddaddy Mountain area
See my kids hike down the trail getting their feet totally soaked.
Drive east on Highway 150 out of Kamas Utah for 25 miles or south out of Evanston Wyoming. Look for the Crystal Lake turnoff, a paved road with several campgrounds and lakes. Look for the Crystal Lake Trailhead, pray you find a parking spot on weekends. There is a fee to park at any of the trailheads along the highway.
Haystack Mountain from Mt. Watson summit