Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks None, NH
Trails: Haystack Notch Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 19, 2023
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: There is no typical USFS trail sign at the west (Rt 113) trailhead and nothing to suggest a trail for those typically driving 113. I checked photos from my prior hikes but found nothing to tell me if there was one in the past. I did find what looked to be a recent empty square hole where a trail sign post logically would be placed. A ways up the trail one can see a typical entering FPA area sign and if one is standing on the road looking that way the trail corridor is obvious. I parked in spot south of there maybe 200' with room for 3 cars. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: The Evans Notch crossings were fine with caution. The Pleasant River West Branch's crossings were dry boot with caution, but the two furthest east were trickier in part due to concerns about possible black ice rock tops which turned out not to be a problem so the first crossings were upstream and the return crossings were at the trail. Even so the nature of the rocks were such crossing from east to west was easier than the west to east.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: The trail is much easier to follow than when I was first doing it. There are paint blazes on either side of the wilderness section, and a couple very old ones in the wilderness, and even a few small 2-4 rock cairns. Most Grid hikers would not be comfortable trying to follow the trail in the wilderness section specifically the notch area and its nearby sections, as it winds around some and leaves generally cover any obvious foot wearing on the surface. Going east to west would likely be better for the less experienced. I was surprised to find that the eastern section to a short ways past the wilderness seems to have been whacked with a brushcutter recently which made it easier to follow. I flicked a lot of the cut branches/small stems from that work off the trail as I went by, along with a lot of branch debris the entire length of the trail, and cut two small blowdowns. The waterbars on the eastern section were mostly working and I cleared some leaves on a few. There are a few soft/mucky spots at various points, but easily avoided and in the colder morning air somewhat solid. At the very eastern end of the trail where it goes through an old clear cut, it's obvious that most hikers are now using a part of the logging road around it and then a herd path off it through the cut, instead of the fainter and likely brushier in leaf season path that follows the USFS painted markers through the old cut. I remember when those were first put in and they were greatly appreciated. Now the regen is likely making them a little hard to visually follow and their fainter footpath can't compete with the road and herdpath that roughly parallels it but lower in the topography. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Great dog trail. 
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Trailhead sign missing. I faintly recall a flashlight hung from a branch nearby. 
Comments: This was a splendid limbo season hike (you must go low below the snow); just a walk in the park with memories of hikes past with my bud. I saw no one. With leaf off the shear cliff walls in the notch are visible and impressive, much like Miles Notch's cliffs. The large rocks/ledges at its base is a nice area too. The stream crossings and trail tracking provide a bit of adventure to go with otherwise easy walking in leaf music. The Pleasant River West Branch has a nice cascade a short ways up from the furthest west trail crossing. This trail can be used with the Miles Notch, Red Rock and road to make a nice backpacking loop, but as an out and back it is pretty easy and it's a different hike in each direction.  
Name: Zero 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2023-11-19 
Link: https:// 
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