Doubly happy is the man to whom lofty mountaintops are within reach. — John Muir

Haystack Mountain is within reach. It is the crown jewel of Pawlet, one of Vermont’s signature small towns. We have hiked it in all seasons, seen it at dawn and by moonlight, snow-shoed and sprinted around it, and guided our young children to its summit to gasp at the astounding panorama. The Nature Conservancy has made it a regional priority to protect a significant landmass around the mountain for the future. Yet few are aware that the top is actually privately owned, and it is only through the courtesy of the current owner that the trail has been open all the way to the peak.

Now we have a window of opportunity to acquire it, preserve it, and ensure that our community and future generations will be able to discover its beauty and have perpetual access to its natural splendor.

Who We Are:

“Friends of Haystack” is a newly formed community non-profit based in Pawlet, VT.
We are Pawlet residents and neighbors, devoted to Southern Vermont, who share common ground. We are dedicated to our community, our natural landscape, and to preserving and enhancing the connection between the two for the benefit of all.
Our immediate goal is to purchase the 65.5 acres of privately held land atop Haystack, securing its recreational public use for future generations.
Our mission is to promote a range of outdoor pursuits such as hiking and birding, support conservation and stewardship, and enrich the community experience throughout the North Pawlet Hills.

Why Now?

For the first time in years, a window of opportunity is open to us as a community.
Public access has been denied occasionally through the years under different owners, and we can’t take for granted that an open trail will always be there. Friends of Haystack have been working with the owner of the summit, and he has agreed to sell the land to our group for the benefit of all. We recognize that there are many good causes and limited resources, but we have been given a year to raise the money. We think this unique mountaintop is an exceptional place to believe in.

Who Benefits?

We all do. Because it’s more than a mountaintop. It’s why we live here. It’s why we visit here. It’s why we want to raise our children here and it’s why we keep coming back here. The North Pawlet Hills Preserve is 800 + acres of conservation land surrounding Haystack mountain- protected by the Vermont Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy. Many of us love knowing all that land is around us, but rarely do we tap into it. It is public, but not yet public friendly. Securing the summit of Haystack, and guaranteeing its public access for all future generations will be the first community project for “Friends of Haystack.” Our volunteer group will then focus on expanding recreational opportunities by linking existing logging roads, farm lanes and deer paths on conserved land to create well-marked trails for different outdoor enthusiast levels, unique bird walks and other nature-based outings. The benefits are recreational, educational, healthy, environmentally sound and economic. But the real rewards come in bringing our community even closer in a vision for our future. While we have Merck Forest to the west, and the Equinox Trails to the south, this will be our own, accessible natural area right around the corner, for the benefit of all.

What Next?

  • Finalizing our status as a Non-Profit 501(c) 3 entity. Done
  • Securing a contract to purchase the land. Done, expires December 31, 2012.
  • Raising a strong initial amount from a handpicked group of donors. In progress
  • Fund-raising locally so more people can “buy in” to the opportunity. In progress
  • Securing the support of the Pawlet Select board and Planning Commission: Done
  • Raising awareness of the project through articles and newsletters: Underway

Mission Statement:
Friends of Haystack is dedicated to promoting conservation and outdoor pursuits in and around the community of Pawlet for the benefit of all.
The group is committed to supporting projects that, through a variety of means, enrich the community experience of one of Vermont’s signature small towns.


 Alan Calfee President
Stephen Schaub Vice-President
Kellie Baker-Waite Treasurer
George Bouret  
Ray Foster

PO BOX 201
PAWLET, VT 05761
Email: haystackfriends@gmail.com

About Friends of Haystack – PDF Version

Photo: Courtesy George Bouret