Mt. Hale, Zealand Falls, Zealand Pond

Destinations:  Mt. Hale (4054'), Zealand Falls Hut (2630'), Whitewall Brook Outlook (2630'), Zealand Falls, Zealand Pond (2457')
Trails:  Hale Brook Trail, Lend-A-Hand Trail, Twinway, Appalachian Trail, Zealand Trail, Zealand Road
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Little River Mountains
Location:  Bethlehem, NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Ponds, summit, views, hut, wetlands, river, cascades, waterfall, brook, loop hike, 4000-footer
Distance:  8.7 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2300 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 5:30  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 7:00   Typical: 8:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/10/2008 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  11/05/2009  
Author:  Deb Hann
Companions:  Twelve SDHers, 2 dogs

Route Summary   

This is a loop hike ascending Mount Hale via Hale Brook Trail and descending via a different route to pass by Zealand Falls Hut, Zealand Falls, and Zealand Pond. The summit of Hale is ringed by trees so there aren't really any views there but there are good outlooks into Zealand and Carrigain Notches from in front of the hut and the nearby Whitewall Brook ledges.

  • Start at the Hale Brook Trail parking area and hike up the yellow-blazed Hale Brook Trail, crossing a few streams en route, and arriving at the summit of Mount Hale after 2.2 miles.
    • After walking 0.8 mile from the trailhead you will cross Hale Brook.
    • Hale Brook will again be crossed 0.5 mile later.
    • A smaller brook is crossed 0.4 mile after that.
    • And a final 0.5 mile climb will deliver you to the summit of Mount Hale.
  • Descend Mount Hale in a southerly direction via Lend-A-Hand Trail for 2.7 miles where it ends upon meeting up with Twinway. Twinway is part of the Appalachian Trail.
  • Go straight on Twinway/Appalachian Trail (Twinway/Appalachian Trail also turns to the right) for barely 0.1 mile to arrive at the Zealand Falls AMC Hut. Just before reaching the hut you may want to make a quick detour to Whitewall Brook which slides across slanted open ledges before dropping sharply below. There are good views from these ledges. Where Twinway/Appalachian Trail curves left towards the hut, walk straight ahead for a few strides then turn right, ducking through a few trees to reach the brook and ledges.
  • From the hut, descend on Twinway/Appalachian Trail for 0.2 mile until this trail ends at the junction with Zealand Trail and Ethan Pond Trail. This segment of Twinway/Appalachian Trail first descends steeply via stone steps and between the hut and the end of the trail, it passes two access points to Zealand Falls.
    • The first access spot to the falls is a spur trail about halfway down the steep pitch on the right. Walking right for only about 20 feet will bring you to the main section of Zealand Falls where the water drops straight down a 15-foot high cliff. If you're feeling a bit adventurous, you can work your way down the embankment and then across the stream to the ledgy area directly at the foot of the falls.
    • The next access spot to the falls is where the main trail veers left and there is an obvious path to the right. Follow the side trail for about 40 feet and you'll be at the tail end of Zealand Falls where there is a series of small cascades.
  • From the junction of Zealand Trail, Ethan Pond Trail, and Twinway/Appalachian Trail bear left to pick up Zealand Trail which you will follow for 2.5 miles all the way to its end.
    • Just beyond this junction Zealand Pond will be on the left where a few strides off the trail will bring you to the shoreline of the pond at a small opening in the trees.
    • A-Z Trail goes off to the right 0.2 mile beyond the pond; continue straight on Zealand Trail.
    • A half-mile farther along Zealand Trail will bring you to a pretty wetlands area crossed by a sturdy boardwalk.
    • After another mile of gentle descent on Zealand Trail you will reach Zealand River where the main trail curves to the left and a short spur path goes straight ahead to the shoreline of the river.
    • Continuing on the Zealand Trail for another 0.8 will bring you to its trailhead at the end of Zealand Road.
  • Finally to complete the loop, walk 1.0 mile along Zealand Road to return to the Hale Brook Trail parking area which will be on your left.

Lunch on Mount Hale's summit (photo by Mark Malnati)

Place         Split
Hale Brook Trail parking area (1770') 0.0 0.0
Mt. Hale summit (4054') 2.2 2.2
Jct. Twinway / Lend-A-Hand Trail (2730') 2.7 4.9
Zealand Falls Hut (2630') 0.1 5.0
Zealand Falls 0.1 5.1
Zealand Pond and Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Twinway / Zealand Trail (2460') 0.1 5.2
Jct. Zealand Trail / A-Z Trail (2450') 0.2 5.4
Zealand Trail parking area (2000') 2.3 7.7
Hale Brook Trail parking area (1770') 1.0 8.7

Lend-A-Hand Trail sign (photo by Mark Malnati)



Map of Mt. Hale / Zealand Pond Loop (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

Dave water crossing (photo by Mark Malnati) Comments from Diane:

A couple days before the hike, upon talking to a forest ranger, we learned that Zealand Road would most likely be open for the season allowing us to do this long loop trail.

We also learned from an internet posting that the trail was alllegedly covered by only three inches of hardpacked snow. Well, that didn't quite turn out to be true.... it appears Jack and Deb are running a postholing competition. We learned during Saturday's hike that three inches of hardpacked snow can mysteriously "expand" to more than twelve inches… now I think I'm seeing why Deb so graciously pulls out a couple of pounds of chocolate during so many of her fabulous hikes - a little bribery goes a long way with this crowd!

And here is Deb's report:

On Saturday, May 10 twelve hikers and two dogs ascended Mount Hale via the Hale Brook Trail. Weather was mild and the sun peeked through the clouds. Black flies were calm/submissive.

Hale Brook Trail is a gradual yet constant grade. Okay, I may have miscalculated the depth of snow in shaded areas... to coin Jack's term, we were "postholing"!

Dave on the trail (photo by Mark Malnati) The group converged on the summit for lunch. We then made our loop on the Lend-A-Hand Trail. It was only 2.7 miles to Zealand Hut, but the snow made it seem much longer! This is where we lost one hiker who had a time constraint and opted to descend Hale Brook Trail to be on the safe side.

We all met up at Zealand Falls Hut for snacks and a change of socks. There were a few spills, so it was a good opportunity to break out the first aid kit!

We descended via the Zealand Trail, a 2.5 mile walk in the woods. This is a flat, smooth trail with pretty views.

Okay, I may have miscalculated the mileage... I forgot to add the 1.0 mile on the road from Zealand Trailhead to the Hale Brook Trailhead. Oops! Total distance for most was 8.7 miles. (Charlie headed back in the car to pick up the last of us "snails". We opted not to rest on the bench and wait for a ride, so he found us half way down the road.)

Total time: 7 hours. We skipped ice cream as the hour was getting late and most places are still closed for the season. All-in-all, another great day in the woods with SDH!

Zealand Falls Hut (photo by Mark Malnati) View from Zealand Falls Hut (photo by Mark Malnati)

NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The Zealand Trailhead is located in Bethlehem, New Hampshire at the end of Zealand Road which can be found on the south side of Rt. 302.

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.
  • 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: 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 a total of 6.4 miles and 270 feet of elevation gain to the hike.

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


Zealand Falls Hut with bathrooms and kitchen and lodging facilities.

Other Notes   

WMNF Recreational Pass

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.

  • $5 per day
  • $30 for a year-long pass
  • $40 for a year for a household

More Zealand Pond, Zealand Falls, Mt. Hale Trail Reports   

Zealand Falls (photo by Mark Malnati)



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