Via the Phelps Trail
From the Garden Trailhead you will have a mellow snowshoe for the first 3.5 miles to Johns Brook Lodge. From JBL continue straight toward Bushnell Falls. Continue past Bushnell Falls and pass by Slant Rock as well. Continue past Shorey Shortcut which comes in on the left and start a very steady climb, and at times steep arduous progression. You then come to a T-intersection with Mount Marcy, hang a left here and proceed for another half mile to the intersection with the Great Range Trail that leads to Basin.
From here you will climb up and above tree line where the elements can become much more “in your face.” You will crest Little Haystack where it tends to be windier than Haystack. The descent to the col can be tricky and slippery. The climb out of the col is steep and by this point you are surely getting very tired. The ridge too can be windblown with very little snow coverage, but ice and slippery conditions will be there.
From Basin Mountain
(Please see the pages on Saddleback and Basin in regard to reaching those summits) If you are coming from Basin, which it highly recommended that if you are doing a traverse Haystack be the first do to easier travel and it gets the tallest peak out of the way first.
From Basin it is a very steep drop to the Shorey Shortcut Trail and an even steeper and longer climb up toward Haystack. This trail will bring you to the Phelps Trail and tree line of Haystack Mountain, where it is outlined above.
Haystack alone has a long ridge by climbing over Little Haystack; along here you can expect heavy winds and whiteout conditions with a deep wind chill. The cliffs on the Basin side of Saddleback are dangerous in the winter and much better to be climbing than descending if you plan to do a traverse.
Essential Gear: An ice ax is nice if you plan to do the cliffs and traverse with Saddleback. Wind and cold protection is a must.
Elevation: 4,960 feet
Round Trip Distance: 17.8 miles, Loop with Basin and Saddleback, 18.6 miles