|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Zeacliff, Zealand Mountain, Mount Hale , NH|
||Zealand Trail, Twinway, Zeacliff Spur, Zealand Spur, Lend-A-Hand Trail, Firewardens Trail, bushwhack, abandoned Tuttle Brook Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, September 26, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||I left my car on Lake Rd in the Twin Mtn Recreation Area (which I only recently learned of!) by the lake at 5:45am. No on else there and plenty of room! A very kind friend then drove me to the Zealand lot which was already hopping and quickly filling up at 6am. It is also a $5/day USFS fee lot. I was still the only car parked in the gravel lot by the pond in the recreation area when I finished just past 4pm. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Although you could tell that water was a but higher than usual, all small crossing on Zealand Trail were still readily rock hopable. The ones on Twinway shortly after the hut over more ledgy sort of stuff involved a little jump but were still doable with dry feet. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Zealand Trail is blazed in blue. It is well trodden and easy to follow. Just watch out for some ski trails crossing it down low. There is a mid-sized birch blowdown that is very easily stepped over roughly 1.25mi into the trail. There is another, somewhat larger birch blowdown further down the trail - closer to the ponds I think. That one was also easily stepped over. Twinway is blazed in white as it coincides with the AT. The blazing may not be that frequent but the trail is well trodden and easy to follow. The Zeacliff spur is signed and the Zealand summit spur I think also has a sign and cairn indicating the summit is off to the side; bot are easy to follow. Lend-A-Hand Trail is not as well travelled as the others but it still regularly travelled and is regularly blazed in blue. It is better blazed than most of the trails in the Whites especially is ascending Hale. I seem to remember a third blowdown somewhere along one of these trails but am not recalling which trail it was on... |
||Not much scrambling other than a bit on Twinway so probably not a bad route for most fit hiking dogs assuming you trust them bushwhacking. It's got a good deal of water along it too. |
|Lost and Found:
||My 24th and 25th grid peaks out of 26 needed in the month of September. Gridded out Hale and my 11th time on Zealand. It was a cool morning and the peaks were in the clouds until the early afternoon when the sun came out. I was in a fleece in the morning and wore winter gloves for part of the day. It's that time of year. |
The trails weren't too wet since it was sunny most of the day on Saturday but there was of course still lots of mud and wet rock. There was running water down parts of the Lend-A-Hand Trail but this isn't uncommon for that trail. Nothing too bad. Many people seen on my way to/from Zealand most of which seemed to be doing a ZBonds traverse (hope the clouds cleared and you had views by the time you got there!) including two Forest service Rangers bringing up some signs. Had a nice conversation with them about some things I noted on my whack of the Osceolas the day before. I also ran into a couple on top of Hale that were kind enough to take my picture on the summit. Best of luck on your 48!
Making my way down Firewardens Trail (abandoned but still very followable and receives some maintenance; it is not signed on the summit of Hale or where it leaves the herd path to avoid the first two crossings on North Twin Trail) I was in the pea soup for awhile. The thickest clouds I'd been in all day which wasn't terribly encouraging since things were supposed to soon be clearing and I'd be starting my whack soon and didn't want the vegetation to be wet. I started my whack at the second sharp left hand turn (switchback) on the Firewarden's if descending at about 3350ft. The old trail description of the Mt. Hale Trail (Firewarden's) and Tuttle Brook Trail say that Tuttle Brook Trail come out onto the former about a 1/2mi below the summit, but, by trail at least, this is at least 3/4mi below the summit if not closer to 1mi I'd say.
Unfortunately I lost my track on Gaia of my whack so the info below is mostly done from memory and may be a bit off: I took my first bearing toward my first waypoint which was at the northernmost point of the 3000ft contour due south of where I started my whack. The 1960 map shown on Franklin sites shows the trail hitting the contour there; the 1946 I have a copy of shows it a bit further east. Trust the 1960 map and head more or less due south to 3000ft. I didn't and aimed closer to where the '46 map had the trail. I immediately got off my bearing though and headed more southwest than south. This is easy to do here as there's a ravine/drainage down to your left (west) that you naturally want to go down whereas what you need to do is more or less contour across the northwest shoulder(??) of the mountain before really starting to descend. A very short ways off the trail, you'll cross the drainage and go through a small birch glade. I'd say try to stay at the top or just above the birch glade; if you're really in it then you're probably dropping off too soon to the southwest like I was. There were what seemed like faint herd paths through here but I think it's just moose paths. I thought I was way off course and really needed to correct but luckily I was only slightly off course of where the trail actually was, which, again, is due south at the northernmost point of the 3000ft contour. As I corrected, I did have to go very briefly through some nasty woods but soon came out into better woods. I found what felt like a faint herd path once more in the open and then I quickly found some orange surveyors tape. There were 3-4 trees with it all relatively close together. I was able to briefly follow the tape from tree to tree before losing it. This had to be around 3200ft because it was right as the trail really started to descend and the grade was steeper. Some blowdowns in this area.
After going a little ways without seeing any tape, I found another piece. I think it was shoirlty before this that I'd noticed something glimmering off to my right (east). I was of course intrigued so I kept my eye on it. I figured it had to be a slide although I was a bit surprised to see one here. Shortly after finding that other piece of orange tape I made my way over to it. It was not far away and I just contoured over to it. Sure enough, it was a slide! Well, not quite sure you could call it that. If so, a very small slide. It was more like one very long piece of wet slab. I came out close to the bottom of it so I hardly got a view from the edge of it (too wet to step out onto). Consequently, I had to walk alongside it in the woods to get closer to the top of it. I was rewarded with a fantastic foliage view which included the town of Twin Mtn, a striking view of South Sugarloaf front and center with its cliffs, and an interesting view of Cherry Mtn. Definitely worth the trip. I made my way back over to where I started over to the slide and continued down. No more orange surveyors tape was to be found. The top of this slab/slide is around 3075ft. I have a waypoint for it.
I came in very quick order to the tiny little brook that drains this "slide". Beyond here is where my memory gets fuzzy. I don't think this Tuttle Brook. I crossed this itty bitty little drainage, walked sort of alongside it, then I believe I crossed another, larger drainage that could've been the left-hand (western) branch as seen on the 1960 map on franklin sites. I saw the trail was to the right (east) of it so wanted to be sure I was. I was on a little sort of rise between these two drainages before crossing the other one. Somewhere around here (or perhaps a bit closer to 3075ft slab) I took my second bearing toward my second waypoint which was where the 1960 map showed the trail crossing to the northwestern side of the branch of Tuttle Brook which I think I'd just crossed I think that meant that I was now aiming a little west of south. I started to come out of the softwood forest and into the hardwoods. Not quite as nice as I expected it to be though. A lot of hobblebrusha and thick stuff. I did find and for awhile think I stayed on a herd path that was quite possibly the abandoned trail though. I say this because I found a piece of pink surveyors tape on the ground here that I carried out. I do not recall the elevation here. If I had to guess I'd say very roughly 2700ft. I came to a more open field here which, other than the fact that it seemed like it would be a tick haven, looked appealing to go into since it would be easier than the thick stuff I was going through but it seemed clear that the abandoned trail was to the right (east) of that, so I stuck to the woods and hobblebrush. Not too, too long after this the forest transitioned again to what we might call your more typical hardwood forest. The woods were better through here which made for faster travel but I also didn't find any evidence of anything so sort of felt like I was just wondering aimelssly toward my bearing.
I crossed to the northwest side of the brook a bit north of where I'd set my waypoig based upon where the 1960 and 1946 map had it. Oh well. I kept going a ways toward my final waypoint which is what's shown on my free version of Gaia as Tuttle Brook Trail ending just past the 1800ft contour. This lined up with my 1946 map as it did not have me crossing the brook again. The 1960 map, however, had the trail crossing Tuttle Brook and heading northeast at 1800ft. Since Gaia showed something there, I said screw the 1960 map and headed northwest toward that waypoint. Along the way, 1) I crossed what's shown on my version of Gaia as "National Forest Road Tuttle Brook Spur B" and a very overgrown logging road just below it, and 2) felt like I was following some sort of path again. This path crossed the brook again though like the 1960 map showed AND then headed uphill toward the Sugarloafs but did so above where the abandoned Baby Twin Trail did so. Not sure what this was. Maybe just a game path. Once I saw it heading uphill, I crossed the brook again and headed back toward my bearing though.
When I finally got to what was shown as the Tuttle Brook Trail on Gaia, it looked like an old logging road. Makes sense since the old trail description says it followed one down low so this made sense. Unfortunately it was very overgrown most of the time and at other times seemed to just totally disappear. Definitely a place to watch out for ticks in the summer. I used my GPS on my phone here more than anywhere else to try to stay on this path. It finally took me to the intersection with what's shown on Gaia as "National Forest Tuttle Brook Road", but, rather than following it, Gaia has the old trail crossing it. No sign of it though. Oh well. I eventually hit some roads which I followed back to my car but watch out for some private property signs around here.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.