Table of Contents

These notes are written to help you compare the various routes that are commonly used to hike to the peaks. They are written on the assumption that you have a guidebook and a set of maps, so no directions are given to trailheads, and the trails are not described in any detail. I have omitted hikes that are substantially longer or more difficult than the standard ones, or that are simply less often used. The fact that a trail is not mentioned here does not imply that it is unsuitable.

Mountain Weather Forecast

The Recreation Report for New Hampshire and Western Maine gives a two day forecast for higher elevations (separate forecasts for elevations of 2,500 to 4,000 feet and for above 4,000 feet). There is also a point forecast for Mount Bond.

Online Map

If you do not have a printed map handy you may want to look at a Topozone map of this section of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Huts and Established Trailside Campsites

The AMC operates two huts and one backcountry campsite in or near this area. Fees are charged at all of them, reservations are advised at the huts, but there are no reservations at the campsites.

The Bonds

For me, the Bonds are the crown jewels of the White Mountain National Forest. They are the remotest peaks in the WMNF, and many of those attempting the four thousand footers find them the most challenging. Many others find their remoteness to be their greatest charm, and the views are, to my mind, the best in the Whites. The only man-made structures visible from the three summits (all are bare) are the ski slopes at Loon and the summit structures on Washington.

There are a large number of ways of doing them. They can be done as day trips, as backpacks, or as hut based trips. Furthermore, all three can be done in one trip, or two trips may be done, one to Bondcliff and the other to Bond and West Bond.

Bonds as Two Day Trips

Doing Bondcliff from the Kanc (rt: 18.2 miles, 3,100 feet, 10:40) is very similar to doing Owl's Head, it is a long trip with moderate elevation gain. The first 4.7 miles along the Lincoln Woods and Wilderness trails are almost totally flat, with only 450 feet of elevation gain. On the way back this segment seems much longer than it was in the morning! There is a fairly short steep section on the Bondcliff trail after the third stream crossing. There is a short ledge scramble before the trail emerges from the trees.

Once Bondcliff has been done Bond and West Bond can be done as a day trip, or from one of the huts. West Bond and Bond are done as a day trip from Zealand road, by the Zealand, Twinway, Bondcliff and West Bond Spur trails (rt: 17.4 miles, 4,150 feet, 10:45). This is a spectacular trip in good weather, with good (but not 360°) views from Zeacliff and absolutely spectacular 360° views from Guyot and both Bonds. You get Zealand as an added bonus on this trip.

Three Bonds in a Day

Very fit hikers can do all three in one day. The distance is slightly less than that of a Presi Traverse, with much less elevation gain. One approach is by the Wilderness and Bondcliff trails (rt: 23.0 miles, 4,500 feet, 13:45). The Wilderness trail is flat, straight and boring, and at the end of a long day it seems to go on forever. Experienced bushwhackers often bushwhack from West Bond to the Franconia Brook trail, it saves a couple of miles plus the climb up Bond and Bondcliff on the return trip but has its own difficulties. Another possible round trip is from Zealand Road, Twinway and Bondcliff, this involves quite a bit of uphill on the return trip (rt: 19.8 miles, 4,850 feet, 12:20). You get Zealand as a bonus, plus additional great views from Guyot and Zeacliff.

With two cars traverses are possible, though the car spot is long. One way is by the Zealand, Twinway, Bondcliff and Wilderness trails, picking up Zealand as a bonus (lp: 19.5 miles, 3,700 feet, 11:35), the reverse involves more elevation gain (lp: 19.5 miles, 4,550 feet, 12:00). A longer and more strenuous alternative is by the North Twin trail to the Twinway, Bondcliff and Wilderness trails (lp: 20.2 miles, 4,350 feet, 12:15), the reverse again involves more elevation gain(lp: 20.2 miles, 5,000 feet, 12:35).

To summarize, here are the distances, elevation gains and book times of the various possible routes to all three Bonds:

Three Bonds in a Day
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Round trip from Lincoln Woods 23.0 4,500 13:45
Round trip from Zealand Road 19.8 4,850 12:20
Traverse, Zealand Road to Lincoln Woods 19.5 3,700 11:35
Traverse, Lincoln Woods to Zealand Road 19.5 4,550 12:00
Traverse, N. Twin to Lincoln Woods 20.2 4,350 12:15
Traverse, Lincoln Woods to N. Twin 20.2 5,000 12:35

The Bonds as a Backpack

Any of the above approaches can be used as the basis for either a two or three day trip.

For the overnight version of the round trip from Lincoln Woods set up camp a mile or two up the Bondcliff trail. You can do the peaks on the first day, after setting up camp, or on the second day. If doing them on the second day you can either break camp after the peaks, or spend a second night camping.

All the other approaches involve camping (for one or two nights) at Guyot campsite. It is very crowded on summer weekends, at that time an early start is essential to guarantee a site. On the first day go to the Guyot campsite and set up camp. If planning a two day trip go to the Bonds (4.8 miles, 1,850 feet, 3:05). Return next day. For a three day trip just go to Guyot on day one, do the Bonds on day two, and go out on day three. One approach that only works as a backpack is a Zealand, Bonds and Twins traverse. First go from Zealand Road to Guyot campsite, over Zeacliff and Zealand (ow: 7.5 miles, 2,850 feet, 5:10), and set up camp. For an overnight do the Bonds (4.8 miles, 1,400 feet, 3:05) that day, for a three day trip do them next day. On the last day go back over Guyot to S Twin, then out over N Twin (ow: 8.2 miles, 1,050 feet, 4:40). This is my favorite way to do the Bonds as a backpack, you get views from Zeacliff, Guyot, all three Bonds and both Twins. However you do the trip, watching the setting sun from West Bond on a nice summer night is an unforgettable experience.

The Bonds from the Huts

The Bonds can be done from either Galehead or Zealand Huts, or as a side trip while doing a traverse between them. You can either do all three, or just Bond and West Bond.

The trip from Zealand Hut is similar to the round trip from the Zealand trail trailhead, except that the hut is 2.8 miles and 650 vertical feet from the road, so starting from the hut and returning there saves a little over three hours of book time. All three Bonds are 14.2 miles and 4,200 feet, with a book time of 9:10, while Bond and West Bond are only 11.8 miles and 3,500 feet, with a book time of 7:40. In both cases you get Zealand as a bonus.

The trip from Galehead Hut is spectacular in good weather, going up the Twinway from the hut to S. Twin, then down over Guyot to either Bond and West Bond, or over all three. The climb up to S. Twin from the hut is very steep, the climb back from Guyot is much easier. The round trip to Bond and West Bond is 9.2 miles with 2,950 feet of elevation gain, book time 6:05, while adding Bondcliff makes it 11.6 miles with 3,600 feet of elevation gain with a book time of 7:35.

Finally the Bonds may be done as part of a hut traverse, between Galehead and Zealand huts. From Galehead hut one goes up to S. Twin, then by the Twinway to Guyot, then over two or three of the Bonds, and finally down the Twinway to Zealand hut, getting Zealand in the process. Since the elevation of Galehead Hut is 3,780 feet while that of Zealand Hut is only 2,630 feet, doing the trip from Galehead involves 1,150 less feet of elevation gain (of course, getting to Galehead hut in the first place involves an extra 1,150 feet, there is no free lunch here). Distances, elevation gains and book times are in the table below.

The Bonds from the Huts
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Two Bonds from Zealand Hut 11.8 3,500 7:40
Three Bonds from Zealand Hut 14.2 4,200 9:10
Two Bonds from Galehead Hut 9.2 2,950 6:05
Three Bonds from Galehead Hut 11.6 3,600 7:35
Galehead to Zealand, two Bonds 10.6 2,750 6:40
Galehead to Zealand, three Bonds 13.0 3,400 8:10
Zealand to Galehead, two Bonds 10.6 3,900 7:15
Zealand to Galehead, three Bonds 13.0 4,550 8:45

Mount Zealand


Those hikers who approach the Bonds from Zealand Road get this peak as an added bonus. For others it is a separate hike by the Zealand trail and the Twinway (rt: 11.0 miles, 2,300 feet, 6:40). Mt. Zealand itself is viewless, but the trail goes by the Zeacliff outlook which has great views.