Haycock Mountain in Pennsylvania

How did Haycock Mountain in Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about Haycock Mountain in Pennsylvania.

This double-peaked trap rock hill covers almost the whole of the northeastern part of Haycock Township. Its elevation at its highest point is slightly over 960 feet above sea level, as shown on the Doylestown, Pa.-New Jersey topographic map. Although it has always been assumed to be the highest hill in Bucks County, this is not strictly correct. It has the greatest elevation of any hill wholly within the county, but on the Northampton-Bucks County line northwest of Passer, Springfield Township, is another hill with an elevation, according to Geological Survey maps, of close to 980 feet, and the highest point of this hill extends for a few yards over the line into Bucks County. Roughly estimated, Haycock Mountain’s dimensions are two miles long by a mile and a half broad. Along the base and lower slopes, however, much land has been cleared. If this were included, the dimensions would be considerably increased. The mountain’s name likely comes from its contour’s resemblance to a couple of haycocks, those small conical-shaped heaps of hay raked up in the hayfield by old-time harvesters prior to loading it on wagons to be hauled to the barn or barrack. The smaller and more northern division is sometimes called Little Haycock.

For much longer than a century, a rough sled road has existed on the southwestern slope of the main mountain, extending from the public road near Shellenberger’s mill to the mountain top. Down this mountain road, the residents of the cleared slopes for many years brought their winter supply of firewood on wood sleds and cut from what they considered public property. No one ever denied them the privilege, and to those who had no woodlands, the free firewood was a godsend. Rocks on the roadside bear many scars, mute evidence of the road’s long usage for this purpose.

During the summer of 1876, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey erected a signal station on top of the mountain in connection, it was alleged, with a survey of the Delaware River. Four lanes were cut through the thickest part of the timber to open the view. Another corps of surveyors from the same bureau returned about fifteen years ago and spent several weeks on the mountain. They sunk a Coast and Geodetic Survey copper plate on the face of a large boulder on one of the high spots and left standing a tall observation tower built of staunch saplings. Until it fell into partial decay, this tower was a conspicuous landmark.

In former times, the top of the mountain was a popular gathering place for picnic parties, but since the advent of the automobile, the arduous climb to reach the summit no longer appeals to the average pleasure seeker. Parts of the mountain are extremely rugged, with pathless fields of rocks obstructed by fallen trees and a network of underbrush hard to penetrate. More than one outing party has become “lost” in these jungles and been forced to spend many anxious hours climbing aimlessly through the tangle before stumbling upon a way out.

About thirty years ago, the county’s organized sportsmen started a movement to interest the State authorities in taking over the unclaimed and wilder part of the mountain as a State Forest Reserve. But the alleged conservationists at Harrisburg were icy towards the project. An Act of Assembly, sponsored by many wildlife organizations, was passed, authorizing the taking of such lands by eminent domain, but no effort was ever made to put the law into effect in Bucks County. Within the last two or three years, however, the project has been taken up by the Board of Game Commissioners with better results. About 800 acres of mountain wild lands have been purchased, with prospects of soon largely increasing this area and developing it into a splendid game refuge.

Among the mountain’s natural curiosities, Stony Garden lies pre-eminent on the mountain’s northwestern edge; but aside from this attraction are many rock formations in other areas that are extremely interesting. “As big as a house” is hardly an exaggeration of the size of these rocks. Nowhere are these mammoth smooth-surfaced boulders more astonishing than on the very summit, where their sizes, shapes, and postures beggar description. As an instance, near the summit, a huge, smooth, flat rock, almost large enough for a skating rink, is supported by several giant rock pillars that rise fifteen to twenty feet above their bases. But the most remarkable of them all is Top-rock, an oblong boulder weighing several tons, and poised atop another rock on a base so narrow that it seems as though a gentle shove might send it thundering down the mountainside. Yet three people at a time have laboriously scaled its summit without detecting even a slight tremor in the huge stone. Unlike its nearby boulder companions, Top-rock is angular, appearing as though some titanic force had sliced away its rounded sides as expertly as a master marble worker would expect to do the job.

The views to the southeast and southwest from the summit of Haycock are unsurpassed in the State, and it may be possible, as often claimed on clear days, to see boats on the River at Bristol, over 50 miles away. As for the mountain’s flora, it has no special distinction, if we except the Wild Gooseberry (Ribes rotundifolium), which grows sparingly among the rocks; nor is its bird and animal life very noteworthy. Blacksnakes have appropriated the long abandoned black bear dens and, like the rocks, they grow big and long up there. Foxes, raccoons, minks, and opossums are now no more plentiful than elsewhere in the county. Big coveys of plump native Bob Whites, once thickly populating the worm-fence rows, have gone with the fences. Some Ruffled Grouse and a few small game mammals still scurry across the forest trails ahead of the stroller, but the lavishly abundant wildlife that was once one of the mountain’s major enchantments has mostly vanished.


MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.

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