Aerial view of the unfragmented forests of our North Pawlet Natural Area, Vermont.
North Pawlet Natural Area Aerial view of the unfragmented forests of our North Pawlet Natural Area, Vermont. © Bob Klein

Places We Protect

North Pawlet Hills Natural Area


Popular with day hikers and rich in biodiversity, this splendid natural area is expanding.

Generations of Pawlet families—and visitors from around the world—have climbed the steep slopes to the top of Haystack Mountain to take in the spectacular 360-degree views of Bald and Middle Mountains, the north-south forested hills, and the serene Mettowee Valley. Locals call Haystack, Middle, and Bald Mountains the Three Sisters. This natural area features a series of rounded, forested peaks in the northern Taconic Mountains, clustered in an extensive landscape of unbroken forest. 

Protecting this landscape is a collaborative effort. A local group, Friends of Haystack, successfully conserved the summit of Haystack in 2012, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has substantially supported TNC's efforts over the years.

Of the three peaks, Haystack Mountain is perhaps the most distinctive, with its sheer cliffs and dramatic outcrops of slate and quartzite. From the modest 1,919-foot summit you can see as far west as Glens Falls, NY, and south beyond the farms of the Mettowee Valley to Mount Equinox in Manchester.

There is a trail at this natural area to the top of Haystack, and visitors are welcome to explore the woods roads on the property.

Hikers can now track their position while exploring our trails using the Avenza Maps app on their smartphones. To learn how to record your route, drop placemarks, and more using the Avenza Maps app, please see our Avenza How-to Guide and download the natural area's trail map

What to See: Plants

Warm southern aspect and shallow soils produce drought-like conditions on the hills and promote the growth of several unusual natural communities, including dry oak woodlands and dry oak-hickory-hophornbeam forests.

What to See: Animals

Turkeys, grouse and bobcats roam the rocky landscape. Peregrine falcons sometimes nest on the cliffs of Haystack. These forested hills also provide nesting habitat for neotropical migrant songbirds that rely on unfragmented forest blocks.