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See you on the trails and enjoy the next adventure, wherever it takes you.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mt. Hale (4054 Ft.), Mt. South Hale (3680 Ft.)

4054 Ft. Mt. Hale summit cairn
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Twin Mountain
DESTINATION: Mt. Hale, South Hale
ELEVATION: 4054 Ft, 3680 Ft.
SUMMIT COORDINATES:Hale = N44 13.307, W71 30.728
SUMMIT COORDINATES:South Hale = N44 12.053, W71 31.091
TRAIL: Hale Brook Trail, Lend-a-Hand Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 10.0 Miles
HIKING TIME: 4.5 Hours
SEASON: Fall - Peak foliage
DATE: October 12, 2015
WEATHER: 60 degrees, clear, crisp

PARKING: From 302 turn into Zealand campground and follow Zealand Rd for 2.5 miles to the Hale Brook Trail parking area. There is room for approximately 10 cars in the lot with overflow onto Zealand Rd. This is a USFS fee area.

USGS QUAD: South Twin Mountain Quad

MAP: (Hale) (South Hale)

DESCRIPTION: The Hale Brook Trail enters a hardwood forest, crosses a small stream and gets your blood flowing with a short steep incline. The trail is a mostly moderate grade incline with an occasional steep section. It offers a lot of diversity with the first of 2 stream crossings of Hale Brook at 0.8 miles and 20 minutes into your journey. The incline becomes more moderate and parallels Hale Brook to your left along a steep slope with a long drop to the brook. The trail makes a second crossing of Hale brook and begins a series of steep switchbacks before leading to the large rock cairn on the open summit. The summit is open however views are limited by the tree growth. There are limited views toward Mt. Tom and Field by climbing the summit cairn. Several metal rods in the ground and concrete footings are all that are left from the remains of a former fire tower removed by the USFS in 1972.

It's rumored that the summit contains several magnetic rocks the affect compass and GPSr accuracy readings.

The Lend-a-Hand trail descends steeply to the west to the col between Hale and South Hale. I started the bushwhack to South Hale at 3400 Ft elevation after 30 minutes as the terrain flattens at a large glacial erratic on the left. The bushwhack began in a south to southwesterly direction through open woods over a gentle incline. As the terrain steepens the woods thickened for a short distance. I emerged and found mostly open woods filled with mossy herd paths that all seemed to lead to the summit of the northerly bump. The woods were pristine and terrain easy to follow along the summit ridge. The herd-paths skirted the right side of some marsh lands towards the col then I followed the contour along the dogleg changing direction due west continuing to follow herd-paths to the summit canister. The summit is marked with a PVC canister and sign labeled "Zeale". There are no views. The Zeale name was coined by pioneer Ray Chaput who hung many signs on trail less 3000 footers. The name is a combination of ZEaland and HALE.

My goal was to make a loop visiting Zealand Hut and return to Zealand Road via the Zealand trail. I returned to the northern hump and started to bushwhack directly east to the Lend-a-Hand trail. I encountered steep cliffs as I approached the northerly bump that prevented me from progressing, following my footprints to the Lend-a-Hand trail was the best course of action. There are additional wetlands to the east as you decrease in elevation and it's advised to bear north when possible. Zealand hut is approximately 1 mile away. A short steep descent along the AT (Twinway) leads you to the Zealand trail and the 2.5 miles will take approximately 1 hour to reach the Zealand Road parking lot. The Zealand trail follows an old railroad grade and doesn't contain a lot of elevation or excitement other than a few wooded bridges over bogs. The 1 mile road walk to the Hale Brook Trail parking lot seemed longer than it actually was on tired and sore feet.


trail destination distance Total Dist
Parking - Mt. Hale Summit 2.3 Miles 2.3 miles
Mt. Hale Summit - 3400 Ft on Lend-a-Hand Tr. (bushwhack start) 1.5 Miles 3.8 miles
Bushwhack start - South Hale Summit 0.6 Miles 4.4 miles
South Hale Summit - Lend-a-Hand Trail 0.6 Miles 5.0 miles
Lend-a-Hand Trail - Twinway Junction 1.2 Miles 6.2 miles
Twinway Junction - Zealand Falls Hut 0.1 Miles 6.3 miles
Zealand Falls Hut - Zealand Trail Junction 0.2 Miles 6.5 miles
Zealand Trail - Zealand Road Parking 2.5 Miles 9.0 miles
Zealand Road Parking - Hale Brook parking 1.0 Miles 10.0 miles


trail destination time Total time
Parking - Mt. Hale Summit 1 hr 10 min 1 hr 10 min
Mt. Hale Summit break 10 min 1 hr 20 min
Mt. Hale Summit - 3400 Ft on Lend-a-Hand Tr. (bushwhack start)  35 min 1 hr 55 min
Bushwhack start - South Hale Summit 30 min 2 hr 25 min
South Hale Summit - Lend-a-Hand Trail 25 min 2 hr 50 min
Lend-a-Hand Trail - Twinway Junction 35 min 3 hr 25 min
Twinway Junction - Zealand Falls Hut 5 min 3 hr 30 min
Zealand Falls Hut - Zealand Trail Junction 5 min 3 hr 35 min
Zealand Trail - Zealand Road Parking 45 min 4 hr 20 min
Zealand Road Parking - Hale Brook parking 20 min 4 hr 40 min


Columbus Day is optimal for fall foliage leaf peeping and according to my local news channel the peak weekend of the season. I wanted to experience a hike with nature at it's finest and the day or weather didn't disappoint.  The clear skies made the morning temperatures brisk but warmed to the low 60's by noon.  At 4054 feet Mt. Hale is the 38th highest mountain in New Hampshire and South Hale is 72nd.

After completing South Hale and returning to the Lend-a-Hand trail you have the option to retrace your steps and ascend 600 feet back to the Hale summit and returning the Hale Brook trail for a 8 to 8.5 mile round trip journey or continue south along the Lend-a-hand trail to Zealend Falls Hut.  The hut offers several viewpoints into Carrigan Notch and short side trips to Zealand Falls.

The Zealand trail descends less than 500 feet following the path of a former railroad grade. The flat terrain offers some wood bridges and viewpoints along it's 2.5 mile length to Zealand Road and a sort 1 mile walk back to the Hale Brook Trail parking area.

Commemorative foot stone of 1928 Firetower

3680 Ft. South Hale (Zeale) summit

Fall foliage on Zealand Trail