You will probably want to bring the real USGS South Twin quad with you on the trip, I am including a pointer to a Topozone map of the area for your convenience while you read the description. The access road is not shown on this map, it is clearly shown on the USGS topo and on the AMC Pemi map.
We drove down the Galehead side of the Gale River Loop Forest Service road, and instead of making the final sharp right to the Gale River trailhead we continued straight to a gate about a mile further. We walked 10 to 15 minutes further on the road (overgrown with grasses) until we came to a junction with an older road near the hight of land. That road is obvious, we found a small cairn after we had seen the road. We followed the road (to the right, roughly south) until we came to a fork with two clear paths. The road itself continued roughly SW, while a well beaten trail branched off SE. That trail led us in about 30 minutes to the south side of Haystack Mountain.
The trail appears to be quite heavily used, it is probably used often by locals for going to Haystack Mountain. It follows a brook closely for a short distance, the rocks on which it goes are slippery. There is no need to watch out carefully for the stream crossing, after following the stream (but not crossing it) it diverges for a short time, then returns to it at an unmistakable crossing. Beyond that it crosses two tributaries, you must step on very slippery rocks, one of our party fell here on the return trip.
We did not climb Haystack Mountain, it should be fun but we decided to keep going. We did climb up a short distance and got a field bearing on Peak Above the Nubble (160°) that agreed with our map bearing. This is always a good sign! The distance is about 0.8 mile. We started on a herd path that led us to a campsite complete with empty beer bottles. Beyond that we came upon a line of surveyor's tape that was initially right on our bearing, though the hight of the tape made us suspect that it was not put there by peakbaggers. Sure enough, the tape line soon went off our course. We continued, on gently rising terrain and through open woods until the 2,800 foot contour, which is where the real fun started.
Here the woods became denser, and the slope much steeper. We all took turns leading, and had mixed luck. We encountered everything: easy going, moderately dense going, dense going, blowdowns. We tried to avoid the densest stuff, and ended up a bit to the west of our course. Fortunately the peak rises to an unmistakable summit, so towards the end we just went uphill, and reached a blowdown patch with the cannister. Though we did not go through anything really bad it took us a bit less than three hours to do the 0.8 miles from Haystack Mountain to the peak.
We spent about half an hour on the summit, which has limited views on North Twin and the Little River. The return trip was slightly more interesting than anticipated. To avoid the densest growth we chose to go quite a bit more east than the ridge. That gave us great going, until we found ourselves at the top of a steep rocky area. I do not believe that this was the "impressive cliffs" that the notes warn about, but it was something we had to work around. We ended up traversing quite a bit until we were clear of them, then we resumed our descent. Through sheer luck rather than any great navigational skill we passed by the campground and beer bottles, and soon were at the south end of Haystack Mountain. It had taken us roughly as long to go down as to go up.
How difficult would I rate this trip? This is a difficult question to answer, as there is no rating system for bushwhacks that I know of. The upper section was steep, rising about 1,000 feet in under half a mile. This made everything harder, but we were able to avoid having to do any rock scrambling. There were areas of dense going, but it was through young spruce, which is not too difficult to push out of your way. We did not encounter any of the older trees with dead branches that are so difficult to go through. The blowdowns that we encountered were mostly isolated, and could be dealt with one at a time. I think that we only had to walk on one (maybe two) blowdowns, very different from Scar Ridge where I remember walking on blowdowns high above the ground, something I really dislike.
And the summit was obvious. There are few things I hate more than mountains that have a broad, flat "summit" on which you spend half an hour searching for either the cannister, or at least a point that you feel is the summit.
Comments or Suggestions? Have you done Peak Above the Nubble, or do you have any comments on the discussion of bushwhacking difficulty? That is what the Peakbagging Forum is for!