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Zealand Hut (elevation 2,700 feet) is located near Zealand Falls, on Whitewall Brook.

In summer it is a short 3 mile hike with little elevation gain from the trailhead, but in winter, when the Zealand Road is closed, the trip is over 6 miles. In summer the short distance plus the falls makes the hut very popular with families with young children. In winter it is used by XC skiers, by recreational snowshoers and by peakbaggers wanting to break some of the longer trips into more manageable pieces.

The AMC web site has a page on the Zealand Hut, with information on the hut, season of operation and rates. Here I give hiking information that supplements what they offer, describing the most frequently used access routes (with distances, elevation gains and book time), and some of the trips that can utilize the hut, including hut to hut trips.

Zealand Falls Hut in Winter

It is open in winter on a "self service" basis:

At AMC Self-service huts, guests provide their own food and have full use of the hut's stove, oven, and cookware to prepare their own meals. Bunks, mattresses, and pillows are provided, but blankets are not. Be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag if you're staying at a self-service hut.

In winter the dining and cooking area is heated (moderately!), and as the bunkrooms are adjacent to the dining area a three season sleeping bag, rated to 20°F, is probably adequate.

Getting to Zealand Falls Hut and Back

Zealand Trail

The easiest way to the hut is by the Zealand Trail, which follows the Zealand River (not too closely) at an easy grade most of the way (ow: 2.8 miles; 650 feet; 1:45). There is a short steep section at the very end. The return trip is downhill all the way. In winter the Zealand Road is closed, and parking is on Rt 302 about 0.3 miles from the start of the Zealand Road. This adds 3.8 miles and 450 feet to the trip, for a total of 6.6 miles, 1,100 feet and a book time of 3:50.

Hale Brook and Lend a Hand Trails

A longer way of reaching the hut is to drive 2.5 miles down the Forest Service Zealand Road to the Hale Brook trailhead. From there the Hale Brook Trail goes to the summit of Mount Hale, from which the Lend a Hand Trail descends to the hut (ow: 5.0 miles; 1,300 feet; 3:10). In winter add 2.8 miles plus 250 feet for the road walk, for an extra 1:30 of book time. Note that the Hale Brook Trail is often broken in winter before the Lend a Hand Trail, so you may be in for a surprise on the summit. The return trip involves 1,300 feet of elevation gain over the same distance, for a book time of 2:40. Add 1:25 for the road walk in winter.

From Crawford Notch

The Avalon and A-Z (Avalon to Zealand) trails approach the hut from Crawford Notch (ow: 5.5 miles; 2,000 feet; 3:45). The substantial elevation gain is due to the fact that the hight of land between Mounts Tom and Field is at 3,700 feet. Consequently adding either peak to the trip is not too difficult. Including Mount Tom will add 1.2 miles and 350 feet (adding 0:45 to book time), while Mount Field will add 1.8 miles and 650 feet (adding 1:15 to book time).

The return trip by the A-Z and Avalon trails has 800 feet less elevation gain, and a book time of 3:20.

Getting to Zealand Hut and Back
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
To Hut by Zealand Trail 2.8 650 1:45
To Hut by Zealand Trail in winter 6.6 1,100 3:50
To Hut Over Mt. Hale 5.0 2,300 3:10
To Hut Over Mt. Hale in winter 7.8 2,550 4:40
To Hut by Avalon and A-Z trails 5.5 2,000 3:45
From Hut by Zealand Trail 2.8 0 1:25
From Hut by Zealand Trail in winter 6.6 0 3:20
From Hut Over Mt. Hale 5.0 1,300 2:40
From Hut Over Mt. Hale in winter 7.8 1,300 4:05
From Hut by Avalon and A-Z trails 5.5 1,200 3:20
Addition for Mount Tom 1.2 350 0:45
Addition for Mount Field 1.8 650 1:15

Hikes From Zealand Falls Hut

A large variety of hikes are available from the hut, ranging from an almost level walk to Thoreau Falls to a grueling trip over all three Bonds.

Thoreau Falls

The falls are obviously best seen when the water is high, but are well worth the trip at any time. From the hut return to the junction of the Zealand and Ethan Pond trails, and follow the latter for about 2.5 flat miles to its junction with the Thoreau Falls Trail. After about 0.1 mile on the latter trail you will reach the ledges at the head of the Falls (rt: 4.8 miles; 150 feet; 2:30).

Zeacliff and Zeacliff Pond

Zeacliff is an outlook with excellent views over the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It is reached from the hut by the Twinway, and includes a rather steep section (rt: 2.4 miles; 1,100 feet; 1:45). The crossing of Whitewall Brook at the start of the trail can be difficult at high water. Zeacliff Pond is reached by a side trail that leaves the Twinway about 0.4 miles beyond the outlook.

Zealand Mountain and the Bonds

The Twinway continues beyond Zeacliff, reaching Zealand Mountain 2.9 miles from the hut. This viewless peak is one that only a peakbagger could love (rt: 5.8 miles, 1,600 feet, 3:40). Beyond that the trail gets much more interesting. Mt. Guyot is reached at 3.2 miles, it is a bare peak with excellent views in all directions (rt: 6.4 miles, 2,250 feet, 4:20). Ambitious peakbaggers can now turn south and bag two or three of the Bonds. 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 winter this is a very challenging trip, as it is an area of deep and drifting snow. The drifts may mean sections of heavy trailbreaking even if another party has already broken out the trail.

Mount Hale

Mount Hale is usually climbed on the way the hut or on the way back. Those reaching the hut from Crawford Notch can do Mt Hale from the hut by the Lend a Hand Trail (rt: 5.4 miles; 1,300 feet; 3:20).

Mounts Tom and Field

Similarly Mounts Tom and Field are often done as part of the trip to the hut or back, but those reaching the hut from the Zealand Road may want to do them from the hut. For either peak take the A-Z Trail to the height of land. From there go either north on the Mt Tom Spur Trail to the summit of Mount Tom, or south on the Willey Range trail to the summit of Mount Field.

Hikes From Zealand Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Thoreau Falls 4.8 150 2:30
Zeacliff 2.4 1,100 1:45
Zealand Mountain 5.8 1,600 3:40
Mount Guyot 6.4 2,250 4:20
West Bond and Bond 11.8 3,500 740
Three Bonds 14.2 4,200 9:10
Mount Hale 5.4 1,300 3:20
Mount Tom 7.6 1,600 4:40
Mount Field 8.2 1,900 5:00
Mounts Tom and Field 9.4 2,250 5:50

Routes to Neighboring Huts

Routes to Galehead Hut

The Twinway goes from Zealand Hut to Galehead Hut (ow: 7.0 miles; 2,850 feet; 4:55). There is a steep section climbing to Zeacliff, after which the grades become much easier. The trail passes by the viewless Zealand Mountain, the descends to a col before climbing up Mount Guyot (a short steep section). This is followed by a long, mainly gradual, climb to the summit of South Twin. The descent to Galehead Hut is short and very steep.

There are 360° views from the summits of South Twin and Guyot, and excellent, though partial, views from Zeacliff.

Peakbaggers will get both South Twin and Zealand Mountain this way. They can add North Twin for an additional 2.6 miles and 750 feet. Alternately, they can swing to the south and do West Bond and Bond, adding 3.6 miles and 1,000 feet (including a steep climb up Bond!). The really motivated can add Bondcliff to the trip, for a total of 13 miles and 4,500 feet, with a book time of 8:45.

Routes to Mizpah Hut

The short route to Mizpah Hut is by the A-Z and Avalon Trails to Crawford Notch, then by the Crawford Path and Mizpah Cutoff to the hut. Note that this route has two climbs, one from Zealand Notch to the hight of land between Mounts Tom and Field, then a second one from Crawford Notch to Mizpah Hut (ow: 8.1 miles, 3,100 feet, 5:35). As noted in the description of routes to the hut, Mounts Tom and/or Field can be added to that trip.

The much longer alternative route follows the AT along the Ethan Pond Trail to NH 302, then follows the Webster Cliff Trail to the hut (ow: 13.8 miles, 3,450 feet, 8:40).

From Zealand Hut to Neighboring Huts
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
To Galehead Hut, direct 7.0 2,850 4:55
To Galehead Hut, add N.Twin 9.6 3,600 6:35
To Galehead Hut, add 2 Bonds 10.6 3,850 7:15
To Galehead Hut, add 3 Bonds 13.0 4,500 8:45
To Mizpah Hut by Crawford Notch 8.1 3,100 5:35
Addition for Mount Tom 1.2 350 0:45
Addition for Mount Field 1.8 650 1:15
To Mizpah Hut by AT 13.8 3,450 8:40