Brian at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)
Brian at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)



Kathy at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)
Kathy at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)

Ethan Pond, Thoreau Falls,
Zealand Notch, Zealand Pond

Destinations:  Ethan Pond (2820'), Thoreau Falls (2400'), Zealand Notch Outlook (2448'), Whitewall Brook Outlook (2630'), Zealand Falls Hut (2630'), Zealand Falls, Zealand Pond (2457')
Trails:  Ethan Pond Trail, Ethan Pond Spur, Thoreau Falls Trail, Twinway, Zealand Trail, Appalachian Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Crawford Notch State Park
Location:  Harts Location, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Ponds, rivers, waterfalls, cascades, views
Distance:  10.5 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1700 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 6:10  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 10:00  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  06/06/2009 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  11/06/2009  
Weather:  75 degrees, clear and sunny
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  SDHers: Mark, Kathy, Amanda, Diane, Paul, Deb, Mike, Leesa, Brian, Deb H., Rachel, Cheryl, Sally, Steve, Ken, Tessa and Quincy (Deb's dogs)

Zealand Notch and Ethan Pond Trail. Zeacliff is the knob to the left and Mount Hale is in the background. (photo by Mark Malnati)
Zealand Notch and Ethan Pond Trail.  Zeacliff is the knob to the left and Mount Hale is in the background. (photo by Mark Malnati)

Route Summary   

This point-to-point hike takes in a lot of wonderful scenery, and except for the first 1.9 miles, is mostly easy strolling. The highlights of the trek include Ethan Pond, Thoreau Falls, close-up views of the valley between Zealand and Whitewall Mountains (Zealand Notch), views and cascades at the ledges of Whitewall Brook, Zealand Falls, Zealand Pond, and a beaver swamp area. Much of the route follows the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Boardwalk on Ethan Pond Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
Boardwalk on Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
For an easier hike, you can do this trek in reverse (starting on Zealand Trail), which would bring the overall rating down to Easy/Moderate.

To Ethan Pond:
  • From the Ethan Pond trailhead at the top of Willey Station Road, hike uphill on the combined Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail for 0.3 mile until reaching a junction with Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail on the left.
  • Bear right to stay on Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail and keep hiking uphill for 1.0 mile which will bring you to a junction with Kedron Flume Trail on the right.
  • Keep straight at this junction and climb for another 0.3 mile until reaching Willey Range Trail, also on the right.
  • Again, stay straight on Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail and hike for another 1.0 mile, at first uphill and then over gentle grades.
  • At a signed junction for Ethan Pond Shelter, turn right onto Ethan Pond Spur.
  • Follow the spur for 0.1 mile, gently downhill, until reaching Ethan Pond on the left. If you want to go to the campsite, cross the brook over the boulders and keep going for about another 0.05 mile.

To Thoreau Falls:
  • After enjoying Ethan Pond, retrace your steps for 0.1 mile back to Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail.
  • Turn right onto Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail and walk on easy grades for 2.0 miles which will bring you to a junction with Shoal Pond Trail on the left.
  • Keep going straight on Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail for another 0.5 mile until reaching the junction on the left with Thoreau Falls Trail.
  • Now turn left and follow Thoreau Falls Trail for 0.1 mile, slightly downhill, which will bring you to the top of Thoreau Falls at an open ledgy area. The trail continues right across the North Fork and you may want to check it out to see if it leads to any good lookout points near the base of the waterfall. If the waterway is running strong, look for better crossing points farther upstream. Whether or not you decide to explore on the other side of the river, be sure to walk upstream on the ledges just to check out the scenery.

Beaver swamp area along Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Beaver swamp area along Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)

To Zealand Notch, Zealand Falls, AMC Zealand Falls Hut, and Whitewall Brook Outlook:
  • After getting your fill of Thoreau Falls, retrace your steps for 0.1 mile back to the junction with Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail.
  • Turn left and walk on Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail, over nearly level terrain, for 0.8 mile which will bring you to the junction with Zeacliff Trail (on the left) in the middle of an open section of trail with stunning views of Zealand Notch.
  • After taking in all the scenery, keep going straight ahead on Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail for 1.3 miles, still over gentle grades, where you will reach its end at a junction with Twinway / Appalachian Trail and Zealand Trail.
  • Footbridge on Zealand Trail
    (photo by Webmaster)
    Footbridge on Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)
  • Turn left on Twinway / Appalachian Trail and head steeply uphill for 0.2 mile to the AMC Zealand Falls Hut. During the steep section, keep looking to your left for a 20-foot spur that leads to a view of Zealand Falls. From here, you can scramble down the high embankment to the ledges if you wish to do more exploring and get a better look at the falls. Also, before the steep section even starts, you can go to the left to access the Zealand River and some cascades downstream from the waterfall.
  • Once reaching Zealand Falls Hut, you get a good view of Zealand Notch and Carrigain Notch from right in front of the hut. And when facing the hut, there are bathrooms just to the right of the main building (open to the public).
  • Walk straight ahead past the hut in order to reach the ledges of Whitewall Brook. From here you can look out to Zealand Notch, Carrigain Notch, and down to Zealand Pond.

Zealand Pond and Zealand River:
  • After taking a break at the Whitewall Brook Outlook, retrace your steps for 0.2 mile, back past the hut and the spur to Zealand Falls, until returning to the three-way junction where Twinway / Appalachian Trail, Zealand Trail, and Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail all meet.
  • Go straight ahead, now on Zealand Trail and look for Zealand Pond appearing very quickly on the left. It is mostly screened by trees but there will be a couple access points where you can walk right up to the shore.
  • Walk for 0.2 mile from the Twinway / Ethan Pond Trail junction which will bring you a junction with A-Z Trail on the right.
  • Keep straight ahead on Zealand Trail, walking easily for 0.5 mile which will bring you to the zigzag bridge over the beaver swamp, a lovely wetlands area.
  • Head gently downhill for 1.0 mile, still on Zealand Trail until coming to a point where the trail bends left. Here, keep going straight for a few strides which will give you a view of the Zealand River.
  • After checking out the boulder-strewn waterway, retrace your steps and continue down the trail (from the little spur, turn right), descending gently on Zealand Trail for another 0.8 mile. This will bring you to the Zealand Pond Trail parking area – the end of your trek.

Deb on Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Deb on Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Ethan Pond Trailhead (1440') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Willey Range Trail (2680') 1.6 1.6
Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Ethan Pond Spur (2860') 1.0 2.6
Ethan Pond (2820') 0.1 2.7
Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Ethan Pond Spur (2860') 0.1 2.8
Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Shoal Pond Trail (2500') 2.0 4.8
Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Thoreau Falls Trail (2460') 0.5 5.3
Thoreau Falls (2400') 0.1 5.4
Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Thoreau Falls Trail (2460') 0.1 5.5
Zealand Notch Outlook and Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Zeacliff Trail (2448') 0.8 6.3
Zealand Pond and Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Twinway / Zealand Trail (2460') 1.3 7.6
Whitewall Brook Outlook / AMC Zealand Falls Hut (2630') 0.2 7.8
Zealand Pond and Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Twinway / Zealand Trail (2460') 0.2 8.0
Jct. Zealand Trail/A-Z Trail (2450') 0.2 8.2
Beaver swamp zigzag bridge (2400') 0.5 8.7
Zealand River (2200') 1.0 9.7
Zealand Trail parking area (2000') 0.8 10.5

Stay overnight in a tipi - Tipi Lodging




Mike and Leesa at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)
Mike and Leesa at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)




White Mountains elegant vacation rental
 

Trail map of hike route to Ethan Pond, Thoreau Falls, Zealand Notch, Zealand Falls Hut, Whitewall Brook Outlook, AMC Zealand Falls Hut, Zealand Falls, and Zealand Pond (map by Webmaster)

 



Goldthread
(photo by Webmaster)
Goldthread (photo by Webmaster)





Amanda at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)
Amanda at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)


 
Trail Guide   

Starting in Crawford Notch State Park and then entering the White Mountain National Forest and skirting the edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness for about half of the trek, this fairly easy point-to-point hike offers a lot of great sights. Ponds, waterfalls, rivers, brooks, and some views of nearby mountains and notches are sprinkled along the way so almost every step of this route has scenic interest.

The first 1.9 miles are up a steep incline which gives this hike its Moderate rating. Once past this point, the hiking is mostly easy. If you start hiking from the Zealand trailhead instead of the Ethan Pond trailhead, then the overall rating would drop down to Easy/Moderate.

Since this is a long trip report, I've divided it into sections:

To Ethan Pond    |    To Thoreau Falls
Zealand Notch, AMC Zealand Falls Hut, and Whitewall Brook Outlook
Zealand Pond and Zealand River


Left: Painted trilliums along Ethan Pond Trail
Right: Ethan Pond (photos by Webmaster)
Painted trilliums along Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster) Ethan Pond (photo by Webmaster)

To Ethan Pond   

Ethan Pond was the first destination in this long trek. To get there required a steep uphill climb, bordering on the Moderate/Difficult level. We started out as a large group but quickly spread out along the trail at different paces. The climb was relentless but knowing that it was a relatively small portion of the overall hike, kept us stragglers motivated.

There were lots of large-sized painted trilliums (Trillium undulatum), often growing in clumps, along the trail for about the first five miles. It was a treat to see so many of these flowers in bloom. On most other hikes I've seen them they are usually growing singly, not as large, and not as frequently. Trilliums are a study of threes: three petals, three bracts, and three leaves – but only one bloom per plant. The painted trillium has white petals with some hot pink accents "painted" around the center of the flower.

Left: Ethan Pond Trail
Right: Ethan Pond Spur crossing the inlet brook of Ethan Pond on boulders. Mount Willey is in the background. (photos by Webmaster)
Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster) Ethan Pond Spur crossing the inlet brook of Ethan Pond on boulders.  Mount Willey is in the background. (photo by Webmaster)

After a while we passed by the junction with Kedron Flume Trail on the right, and then Willey Range Trail, also on the right. These were encouraging landmarks, indicating that the steep part was nearly over. About 0.2 mile past the Willey Range junction, Ethan Pond Trail eased up considerably and finished its ascent after about 0.3 mile of gentle grades.

The next half-mile went by quickly and easily as we made our way past pretty woods. At the signed spur for Ethan Pond, we turned right and descended gently for 0.1 mile to the eastern shore of Ethan Pond (well some of us did, a large part of the group missed this spur). The trail crosses the inlet brook on boulders and rocks and continues to a shelter and tent platforms, although we stopped at the pond. Other than on the boulders forming the footway across the stream, there wasn't much room at the shoreline. The pond was ringed by fir, spruce, and tamaracks – they were beautiful but it's too bad there wasn't room for a loop path.

Mount Willey as seen from the western end (off trail) of Ethan Pond
(photo by Webmaster)
Mount Willey as seen from the western end (off trail) of Ethan Pond (photo by Webmaster)

The pond is five acres and supports trout, although it is no more than four feet deep. Looking across its waters, the Twin Range is visible in the distance. From left to right are Mount Bond, Mount Guyot, Zealand Mountain, and South Twin. These peaks are a bit too far away to be very interesting; to see a closer mountain, look up to the right at the cliffs of Mount Willey rising above the pond. This body of water is sometimes referred to as Willey Pond, presumably because it sits at the base of Mount Willey, but it is named for Ethan Allen Crawford. Crawford discovered the pond, and was an innkeeper and a prominent explorer of the White Mountains.

There was a heron at the far end of the pond. It was a really peaceful setting and I could have easily spent at least a half-hour here but I was with a group of face-paced hikers so we snapped a few photos and then moved onward.

Thoreau Falls with Mount Bond (left) and Mount Guyot (center) in the background (photo by Webmaster)
Thoreau Falls with Mount Bond (left) and Mount Guyot (center) in the background (photo by Webmaster)

To Thoreau Falls   

Ethan Pond Trail continued to be a delight, making its way across many nice bog bridges while heading very slightly downhill. I had hoped to find a way from the trail to the pond's western end, both to try for a closer look at a heron and also to get a different perspective of the pond and a bigger view of the Willey cliffs. At one point, I did cut over through a short section of woods but there was quite a bit of water. I'm not sure if that was officially the start of the North Fork of the Eastern Branch of the Pemigewasset River (whew, what a name), or if it was just the pond stretching out. I did get a pretty good view of the upper part of Mount Willey but didn't get another look at the pond. It'd be nice to come back here someday with those tall rubber boots and really make a thorough exploration of the pond.

Mark spotted a spruce grouse (Dendragapus canadensis) in a tree and he managed to get a good photo of it. It was a male, indicated by the red "eyebrow" (called a "wattle" or a "comb") above its eye. His belly was prettily patterned in shades of brown, gray, and off-white and he had a small beak. In winter, spruce grouse eat pine and spruce needles; in other seasons they also feed on fresh, green shoots and leaves, berries, flowers, insects, snails, and fungi. They are comfortable with letting humans get fairly close to them.

Spruce grouse seen along Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)
Spruce grouse seen along Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)

The trail continued through conifer woods and there was some rhodora (Rhododendron roseum) in bloom. These small shrubs put forth magenta-colored flowers with ten stamens. The petals, when you are unfamiliar with how the flower is "supposed" to look, seem to be deformed or missing. There are five narrow, oblong petals: three point upward and are fused together, and the two lower ones are spread widely apart. To add to the confusion, the blooms are in clusters and overlap each other.

There was another flowering shrub but I couldn't find it in my field guides. It had pretty brownish-green, toothed leaves and five-petaled white blooms with many stamens. In reviewing my photos, I discovered a spider and his web in one bush and some other kind of bug in another one.

Left: Shrub with white flowers – what is it?
Right: Hobblebush with large sterile flowers and small fertile flowers
(photos by Webmaster)
Shrub with white flowers - what is it? (photo by Webmaster) Hobblebush with large sterile flowers and small fertile flowers (photo by Webmaster)

A larger shrub, hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides), was also in bloom. This tree-like bush can get up to about eight feet tall and has large, heart-shaped leaves growing in pairs. The white flowers are arranged in clumps and at first glance you might think that there is a mixture of buds and blooms; but in fact there are two different flower types. The outer blossoms are showy, yet sterile. They have five petals and a blank middle where there would normally be stamens and pistils. The inner part of the clump has the reproductive flowers: they are very small and also have five petals.

The conifers along one part of the trail were spaced widely enough to allow quite a bit of sunshine in and there was a low understory of baby conifers. Very close to the ground, goldthread (Coptis groenlandica) was showing off its white flowers with six petals and many stamens. The leaves of this plant are evergreen and it is very common to see them growing throughout the woods; but the blooms seem to be short-lived as I don't often get to see them. If you gently pull one plant out of the ground, you can see that the tip of the root is yellow.

Left: The North Fork of the Eastern Branch of the Pemigewasset River, seen from the bridge on Ethan Pond Trail
Right: Ethan Pond Trail (photos by Webmaster)
The North Fork of the Eastern Branch of the Pemigewasset River, seen from the bridge on  Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster) Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)

After a while I spotted some moose prints on the trail and the North Fork came into view. The path paralleled the river until about the junction with Thoreau Falls Trail and there were several spots that provided good views of this waterway that has Ethan Pond as its source. The water was clear with a beige, brown, or rusty streambed. Trees overhung the shoreline, and boulders of various sizes were visible both below and above the surface.

We passed by the junction with Shoal Pond Trail on the left, then crossed North Fork on the right via a nice, long footbridge. Small cascades, boulders, and some ledges were visible in the river. Soon we reached the junction with Thoreau Falls Trail on the left, and turned here in order to go to the waterfall.

A gentle downhill walk of 0.1 mile brought us to an open ledgy area at the top of Thoreau Falls. This is the North Fork and the trail crosses the river at the top of the falls. I wanted to go across and follow the trail downstream to see if there were better views from the bottom of the cascades, but the water was raging pretty rapidly and the crossing didn't look very doable. I later learned there is usually a better place to cross farther upstream.

Mount Bond (left) and Mount Guyot (center) from Thoreau Falls
(photo by Mark Malnati)
Mount Bond (left) and Mount Guyot (center) from Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)

We lounged around on the open ledges and enjoyed the river, the waterfall, and the view of Mount Bond, Mount Guyot, and the long, flat top of Zealand Mountain. Mount Bond is part of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. This was a better prospect of these peaks than that offered at Ethan Pond. The near slopes, part of Zealand Mountain, were covered in a pleasing mixture of bright green hardwoods and dark green conifers.

Thoreau Falls dropped about a hundred feet in a series of white-water cascades over smooth ledges. Upstream, the near side of the waterway was flanked by smooth, slanting ledge while the far side was crowded by boulders. A few feet away from the river, there was a small, circular basin, about eighteen inches in diameter, in the ledge. I don't know if this formed naturally or artificially but it was filled with water and was neat looking.

After lunch, photo snapping, and some relaxing, we moved on to continue our trek. I later read that there are more cascades and pools farther upstream so I will have to do more exploring in this area the next time I do this hike.

Thoreau Falls (photo by Webmaster)
Thoreau Falls (photo by Webmaster)

Zealand Notch, AMC Zealand Falls Hut, and Whitewall Brook Outlook   

We retraced our steps on Thoreau Falls Trail and then continued hiking on Ethan Pond Trail. The trail felt flat although we actually went slightly downhill, and then later, slightly uphill. The path was delightful with engaging woods. There was a wonderful sense of being out in the middle of nowhere and yet the hiking was so refreshingly easy. At this point we were over five miles, in all directions, from any roads.

We soon arrived at Zealand Notch where the scenery was more dramatic. The western side of Whitewall Mountain loomed above us to the right. The lower part was a jumble of gray rock slides, above that was a somewhat level strip of ground supporting both hardwoods and conifers, and higher still were steep ledges topped by some smallish, scraggly trees.

To the left, the trail was wide open and the terrain dropped precipitously into the notch formed by Whitewall and Zealand Mountains. Whitewall Brook flowed through the bottom of this narrow valley. The stream itself was not visible but the stripe of dark green moisture-loving conifers (probably fir and/or spruce) at the base of the notch indicated its path. Higher up on both sides, the slopes were covered by hardwoods bearing bright green foliage.

Zealand Notch seen from Ethan Pond Trail: Whitewall Brook runs through the valley where the dark green trees are, at the base of Zealand Mountain which is to the right. Shoal Pond Peak is to the left, and in between, in the background, are the Hancocks (photo by Webmaster)
Zealand Notch seen from Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)

I had read that the talus from Whitewall Mountain often slides down over this section of trail. When we were there I was surprised to see that the footway was completely clear. But someone that hiked the same area just two months later brought back photos of rocks covering the path, making the footing a bit precarious and certainly not an easy stroll. The rockslide area is short, so as long as you don't slip and tumble into the ravine, it shouldn't be that much of a problem to navigate through any slides.

I had contemplated doing this hike last winter, but now that I've seen how exposed this section is, I don't think I'd want to try it in snowy or icy conditions. Aside from slipping, I'd be afraid of a snow shelf forming at the edge that might look like the flat trail but would collapse as you stepped on it and send you shooting down into the notch.

Whitewall Mountain from Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)
Whitewall Mountain from Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)

There was a junction for Zeacliff Trail here. Zeacliff Trail descends into the notch, which is contained within the Pemigewasset Wilderness, crosses Whitewall Brook, and then faces a steep climb out of the ravine up to the Zeacliff outlook. Zeacliff is the rounded knob at the end of the eastern arm of Zealand Mountain. It seemed like a daunting undertaking, although like any other hike, challenges can be met and amazing landscapes encountered, just by taking it one step at a time.

Looking behind us, down the notch, some other mountains were visible. The one that was closest and filling a good part of the horizon is an unnamed peak between Thoreau Falls Trail and Shoal Pond Trail and is also part of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It is sometimes referred to as "Shoal Pond Peak". To its right, farther out, the Hancocks could be seen. To the left, Mount Carrigain's dome-shaped top could be glimpsed.

After enjoying all these trailside wonders, we continued on, hiking easily through woods, and soon reached the junction with Twinway and Zealand Trail, thus completing our end-to-end traverse of Ethan Pond Trail.

View from the Whitewall Brook Outlook: Whitewall Mountain on the left, with Zealand Notch to its right. Low in the middle ground is Shoal Pond Peak. In the background is Carrigain Notch with Mounts Anderson and Lowell to the left of the "dip", and Vose Spur and Mount Carrigain to the right. (photo by Webmaster)
View from the Whitewall Brook Outlook (photo by Webmaster)

We turned left onto Twinway, and climbed shortly, but steeply up to the AMC Zealand Falls Hut. From right in front of the hut is a nice prospect back into Zealand Notch from where we had just come. From this vantage point, nearly 200 feet higher, the view looking back into the notch was quite a bit different from our earlier vista. Shoal Pond Peak no longer dominated the horizon and seemed to be lying low in order to bring the "background" peaks into the spotlight. Carrigain Notch was the focal point with Mounts Anderson and Lowell to the left of the "dip", and Vose Spur and Mount Carrigain to the right.

Walking past the hut, the ledges that Whitewall Brook flows over, were quickly reached. From here you can look through Zealand Notch to Carrigain Notch but there are also views down to Zealand Pond with Mount Tom rising behind it farther out. There are cascades and small pools to be enjoyed upstream before the water tumbles over the edge of the cliff to join the brook below which flows out of Zealand Pond. We reluctantly left this area to complete the last leg of our trip.

Cascades and ledges at the Whitewall Brook Outlook (photo by Webmaster)
Cascades and ledges at the Whitewall Brook Outlook (photo by Webmaster)

Zealand Pond and Zealand River   

We walked back to the hut and descended the steep section. We were so engaged in chatting, that we totally forgot to check out Zealand Falls which would have been visible with only a twenty-foot detour. With the water flowing strongly at Thoreau Falls, I think it would have been worth checking out. The only other times I've seen it was during a time of low-water flow, and during the winter when it was completely frozen. Alas, yet another reason to return to this area.

Soon after the footway leveled out, we reached the four-acre Zealand Pond which is very close to the trail on the left. It was mostly screened by trees but there were a couple points that allowed for shoreline access. Looking up across the pond, the ledges of Whitewall Brook that we just left were visible. At the right-hand end of the pond were a tiny little island and a wetlands area. There were a couple boulders poking above the water level to the left. Like Ethan Pond, woods closely hugged the shoreline.

Zealand Pond (photo by Webmaster)
Zealand Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Now on Zealand Trail, we worked our way easily downhill through pleasant woods. A nice wooden bridge carried us safely over a pretty brook. Later we reached the beaver swamps which are a beautiful wetlands area, crossed by a fun, sturdy, zigzag boardwalk/bridge. Partial views of Mount Tom and Zealand Ridge can be obtained from this area.

After a while, where the trail turns sharply left, you can walk straight ahead for a few strides to reach the shore of the boulder-strewn Zealand River which also flows from Zealand Pond yet goes into a different watershed from Whitewall Brook. We then walked through conifer woods over a rocky trailway and soon enough completed our trek when we arrived at Zealand trailhead at the end of Zealand Road.

This was an incredible hike, filled with too many sights to fully enjoy in just one day. I plan on making this an annual outing.
 
Cheryl crossing the bridge over the North Fork
(photo by Webmaster)
Cheryl crossing the bridge over the North Fork (photo by Webmaster)






The North Fork flowing over ledges above Thoreau Falls (photo by Webmaster)
The North Fork flowing over ledges above Thoreau Falls (photo by Webmaster)


Pothole next to Thoreau Falls (photo by Webmaster)
Pothole next to Thoreau Falls (photo by Webmaster)



Whitewall Brook
(photo by Webmaster)
Whitewall Brook (photo by Webmaster)

Beaver swamp area along Zealand Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
Beaver swamp area along Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)


White Mountains elegant vacation rental
 
Left: SDH at Thoreau Falls; Right: Small falls (photos by Mark Malnati)
SDH at Thoreau Falls (photo by Mark Malnati) Small falls (photo by Mark Malnati)
 


NH - Central East



The golden waters of the North Fork (photo by Webmaster)
The golden waters of the North Fork (photo by Webmaster)

  Driving Directions   

This is a point-to-point hike so you will need to spot cars or otherwise arrange for transportation before you begin. The starting point is the Ethan Pond Trailhead in Harts Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park. The ending point is the Zealand Trailhead in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, within the White Mountain National Forest.

Painted trillium (photo by Webmaster)
Painted trillium (photo by Webmaster)
To Ethan Pond Trailhead:

From the East:
  • The Ethan Pond Trailhead is located at the end of Willey Station Road off of Rt. 302.
  • Traveling from the east, Willey Station Road is about 11 miles west of Bear Notch Road which is on the left-hand side of Route 302 in Bartlett. If you reach the Willey House Historical Site, you've gone 1 mile too far.
  • Turn left onto Willey Station Road and drive uphill for 0.3 mile.
  • At the end of the road there is room for parking on both sides of the street and the trailhead is straight ahead.

From the West:
  • The Ethan Pond Trailhead is located at the end of Willey Station Road off of Rt. 302.
  • Willey Station Road is about 12.1 miles east of the junction of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302. It's also about 7 miles east of the Mount Washington Hotel and 1 mile east of the Willey House Historical Site.
  • Turn right onto Willey Station Road and drive uphill for 0.3 mile.
  • At the end of the road there is room for parking on both sides of the street and the trailhead is straight ahead.

Zigzag bridge over beaver swamp area on Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Zigzag bridge over beaver swamp area on Zealand Trail (photo by Webmaster)

To Zealand Trailhead:

From the East:
  • Traveling on Rt. 302 West, Zealand Road is about 9.2 miles west of the Willey House Historical Site, and about 6.5 miles west of the AMC Highland Center. Zealand Road as well as both of these landmarks are all on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Boardwalk on Ethan Pond Trail
    (photo by Mark Malnati)
    Boardwalk on Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)
  • Turn left onto Zealand Road.
  • 3.5 miles from Rt. 302, Zealand Road ends and there is a large parking area on the left.
  • The trailhead is straight-ahead from the road.

From the West:
  • From the junction of Routes 302 and 3 in Carroll (Twin Mountain), go east on Route 302.
  • After 2.1 miles, turn right onto Zealand Road.
  • 3.5 miles from Rt. 302, Zealand Road ends and there is a large parking area on the left.
  • The trailhead is straight-ahead from the road.

Winter:
  • Willey Station Road is not plowed all the way to its end in the winter, although there is a plowed area for parking at the base of the road. Parking at the base of the road adds 0.3 mile and 200 feet of elevation gain to the hike.
  • Zealand Road is closed to vehicular travel during the winter, although hikers and skiers are welcome to use it. Snowmobile trails also intersect the road in a couple spots. There is a large winter parking lot on Route 302, 0.2 mile east of Zealand Road. Parking here instead of at the far end of Zealand Road adds 3.7 miles to the hike.

Check out the White Mountain National Forest's road status page for the most up-to-date information on road closures.

Facilities   

Toilets at the Zealand parking lot.

Rhodora blossoms along Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Rhodora blossoms along Ethan Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Other Notes   

A parking permit is needed for the Zealand parking lot, but not for the Ethan Pond parking area.

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

Rates:
  • $3 per day
  • $5 for a week-long pass
  • $20 for a year-long pass
  • $25 for two year-long passes (one household/two cars)

More Ethan Pond, Thoreau Falls, Zealand Pond Trail Reports   

 
Trail sign at the junction of Ethan Pond Trail and Thoreau Falls Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)
Trail sign at the junction of Ethan Pond Trail and Thoreau Falls Trail (photo by Mark Malnati)



View from Whitewall Brook Outlook (photo by Webmaster)
View from Whitewall Brook Outlook (photo by Webmaster)

 
Ethan Pond (photo by Mark Malnati)
Ethan Pond (photo by Mark Malnati)
 

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