Fall Foliage Loop . . . Zealand & Bonds

Date of Hike: 10/6/18

Zealand Trail: 2.4 miles  /  Twinway 4.1 miles  /  Bondcliff Trail: 0.8 miles  /  West Bond Spur 1.0 miles  /  Bondcliff Trail: 4.7 miles  / Bushwhack: 0.9 miles  /  Abandoned Wilderness Trail: 0.7 miles  /  Wilderness Trail 0.9 miles  /  Thoreau Falls Trail: 5.1 miles  /  Ethan Pond Trail: 2.1 miles  /  Zealand Trail 2.4 miles
Total Miles: 25.1 miles (5,517 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- Peak foliage is arriving in the White Mountains.  I took advantage of the nice weather and headed out for a big loop up high and down low starting and ending in Zealand Valley.  The colors were very good, still some green in sections but peak should be here this week through next weekend.  Hopefully I can get in a few more big hikes / runs this month before the days get shorter.
- Highlights from this hike; I got to see the clouds come rolling in over the Pemi Wilderness, traveled the Black Brook and found remnants of the original Bondcliff Trail, hooked onto an abandoned section of the Wilderness Trail while crossing at the site of the old East Branch Pemi River suspension bridge, traveled the WWII era section of the Thoreau Falls trail along the North Fork rail grade, checked out New Camp 22 relics, and visited the Miller - Quinn plane crash memorial.

 Early morning on the approach to Zealand Pond

View into Zealand Valley from Zealand Falls Hut

Pano of Zealand Valley over to Carrigain Notch

 Whitewall Mountain, this makes up the northern border of Zealand Notch, with Zeacliff making up the southern border

Looking over to Carrigain and the Hancocks

Zealand Notch

Looking down into the North Fork, I'll be coming through here later in the afternoon

View from Guyot

Clouds overtaking the Franconia Ridge

Owl's Head and Franconia Ridge

Owl's Head and Franconia Brook Valley

West Bond, Owl's Head, and Franconia Ridge

Slides of Redrock Ravine


Pemigewasset Wilderness

Lincoln, Lafayette, and Garfield

Hellgate Ravine and Bondcliff

Hellgate Ravine

Black Brook (left).  Old section of the lower Bondcliff Trail (right), it used to cross the brook several times before being re-routed decades ago.  Some parts are easy to follow but are a muddy boot sucking mess, other spots have been washed away from years of storms.  It was easier to just rock hop the brook

Trestle 16, half of it finally fell last year during the October 30th storm.  It had been standing for around 100 years

View of the Trestle from above the Black Brook

Looking down at the trestle

Ground view of what is left of Trestle 16.  This should stand for many more years as the brook doesn't flow directly under this spot.

Traveling the abandoned section of the Wilderness Trail, still in good shape (left).  East Branch Pemi crossing where Trestle 17 used to be and later the suspension bridge was located.

Easy rock hop across the river today.   

 Thoreau Falls Bridge, not in service anymore

Thoreau Falls Bridge

Looks just like it did in May, the bridge is being dismantled, looks like they're taking their time removing it.  Glad I got to see it one more time.

Camp 22 relics

Heading off trail and hooking onto an old RR grade just south of New Camp 22

New Camp 22 relics

New Camp 22 clearing to the left, RR grade to the right

Last year's storm washed away several items but it also uncovered some new items to look at.  I hadn't seen the wheel before, which was neat to study!  I remember seeing the bottles and they still smell like medicinal alcohol or something like that.

I first stumbled upon this bottle three years ago, it was not broken then but has since cracked and broke in three parts.

 Plane crash memorial site.  Here are two articles if you're interested in learning more about the tragic story.  For an article with some stunning photos (click here).  For an in depth article about before / during / after (click here)

Small clearing where the memorial is 

 Back on trail, colors changing fast along the North Fork

Stunning colors along the banks of the North Fork

Vivid yellow colors near a semi clearing along the Thoreau Falls Trail.  I first thought this was Camp 23 but never found any relics back in 2009.  Then I found Camp 23 just across the brook where jumping brook is located when I first went off trail along the North Fork in 2015

 Thoreau Falls

Walking back through Zealand Notch


  1. I would love to go here after reading your post. Thanks for some great tips on where to go

    1. Thanks, Francesco. Hope you get to hike there one of these days, it's a beautiful place!