Foliage Fun in the Pemi Wilderness: Take Two

Date of Hike: 10/5/14

Zealand Trail:  /  Ethan Pond Trail:  /  Thoreau Falls Trail: 5.1 miles  /  Wilderness Trail: 2.6 miles  /  Shaul Pond Trail: 4.0 miles  /  Ethan Pond Trail:  /  Zealand Trail:
Total Miles 21.60 miles (1,890 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- The plan was to get in a whole weekend of hiking in beautiful Acadia National Park in Maine.  Unfortunately, the weather was sub-par through the first half of Sunday, so Whitney and I decided to get up early and drive to the White Mountains and get in another prime foliage hike before heading south.
- We tossed around the idea of heading up the Whitewall Slide to the summit and then bushwhacking over to the A-Z Trail but after last weekends big bushwhack, and the forest being wet from rain, we decided to stick to the trail and get in a big mileage hike with minimal elevation gain deep in the beautiful Pemigewasset Wilderness.
- We decided on a 'lasso loop' from the Zealand Trail to the Ethan Pond Trail, banging a right onto the Thoreau Falls Trail, hooking onto the last existing part of the 'endangered' Wilderness Trail, hanging a left onto the Shaul Pond Trail, and lassoing it back to the Jeep via Ethan Pond and Zealand trails.
- The hike along the Zealand Trail was filled with hikers, most of which where with an A.M.C. group who where bird watching, leaf peeping, and making macaroni arts & crafts at the hut.  Once we made it to the Ethan Pond junction we saw just a few more people as we passed under Whitewall and the Thoreau Falls Trail.  From the falls, we would not see another hiker over the next twelve miles!
- The foliage was still going strong but there were much more leaves covering the trail from the previous weekend.  In fact, the trails were buried in just enough leaves that small rocks, roots, and mud pits where hidden making for an adventurous hike at times under foot.
- The Thoreau Falls, Wilderness, and Shoal Pond trails pass by some very old railroad campsites from the early twentieth century.  It was pretty freaking cool to check out the camps and the see the old RR 'junk' that was left behind.  We had no real idea what we were looking at, most of it was iron and heavy.  The most amazing piece we came across was an old iron oven, just sitting by the side of the trail on the Wilderness Trail.
-  After passing by old camp we continued along the Wilderness Trail and made our way onto the Shoal Pond Trail.  The Shoal Pond Trail basically parallels the Thoreau Falls Trail to the east of Shoal Pond Peak.  It's a little rougher, muddier, and narrower than the Thoreau Falls Trail.  It travels along and old railroad grade in spots, too. Just before the end of the trail it goes along Shoal Pond.  We took a nice break here admiring Mount Carrigain rising high above off in the distance.
- From here we made our way back along the Ethan Pond Trail and Zealand Trail.  We ran into Jeremy and Brian on the way out.  They had just came over Zealand via a bushwhack up the Zealand scree/talus field.  Last week they also did the slide on North Twin, pretty awesome stuff right there!  Whitney and I will definitely add these two spots to our ever growing off trail hiking list!
- We made it back to the car a little before sunset and we headed back south where I dropped off Whitney at the park & ride before heading back to RI.
- So far this has been a pretty killer autumn hiking season.  The leaves are falling and winter will come soon enough but hopefully there will be a few more mild weekends in the meantime for some exploring!
View from Cadillac Mountain, Bald Porcupine Island (Acadia)
 Thunder Hole (Acadia)
 Waves crashing into Thunder Hole (Acadia)
 Sand Beach (Acadia)
 Bubble Divide (Acadia)
 Jordan Pond (Acadia)
 Hiking along the Zealand Trail
 Whitewall and Zeacliff
 The old Zealand Valley Railroad grade
 Hiking along the Ethan Pond Trail
 Thoreau Falls Trail
 North Fork
 Camp 23??!!
 The beautiful Thoreau Falls Trail
 Camp 22 and RR junk!
 Bottoms Up!
 Thoreau Falls Bridge
 East Branch
 Wilderness trail and an old trestle
 You never know what you'll find on the trail!
 Camp 18
 More cool stuff in Camp 18
 An old Stove and Whitney takes aim at ghosts that roam the haunted camps!
 Wilderness Trail
 Stillwater Junction!
 The rr grades along the Shoal Pond Trail
 Camp 21 along the Shoal Pond Trail
 Whitney enjoying the view on Mount Carrigain from Shoal Pond
 Mount Carrigain
 Walking back along the Ethan Pond Trail
 North Hancock, North-North Hancock, and Northwest Hancock!
 'Glass Water' - Zealand Pond
Route for the day, click here to view details


  1. That was an excellent Trip Report. I love that part of the PEMI Wilderness. Thanks for posting. :)

    1. Thanks, Andy. Glad you liked the report. I love walking by the old camps in the Pemi and can't wait to explore some of the more remote ones that are off trail in the future. :)

  2. Woah, did they clear out all those blowdowns on the SPT in the fist half mile from Stillwater ?

    1. Hi Tim,

      There are still numerous blowdowns (about two dozen) on the trail but they are all step-overs, there is nothing blocking the trail where you have to walk around. So it's a piece of cake as long as you don't trip over them.

  3. Great report and pictures as usuall. Arcadia Park looks like a great place to hike. Will add it to my "post list" to do list.

    1. Marivn! You will love Acadia, try and head there midweek as it's a zoo on the weekends between early June and late September. Bar Harbor is a great spot to get some yummy food and a cold drink after a day of hiking, too!