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hiking
1 day ago

One of the most difficult and most interesting adventures I’ve done in the Whites. I decided to tackle this peak is part of my NE Hundred Highest, and from what I heard it was going to be suffer fest. I found it wasn’t as bad or unrewarding as I was told it would be. You begin with Lincoln Woods, which is very wide and pretty well trafficked, with plenty of signage. After the split for Franconia Falls, there is a big bridge into the wilderness. From here there are no bridges, no blazes and no trace of humans aside from the trail. You have to negotiate many river crossings, most of which would be very difficult in high water. As of 7/19/2018 the water is quite low and you can easily rock hop. The path is very lightly trafficked and very peaceful. The beginning of the Owls Head slide has almost no indicators aside from a small “fence” made from trees. I’d suggest using the AllTrails tracker. The slide climbs very steeply up loose rock before connecting to the obvious herd path. The slide has great views of Franconia Ridge. There is no official trail to the summit but the route is very obvious, there’s one clearing where the summit was previously thought to be, continue past this clearing to the left to the true summit, which has a clearing and a cairn as well as a large fallen tree. From there, go back the way you came. If you don’t want to go down the slide, you can always take the Brutus Bushwhack down, which is a herd path that goes around the slide. This herd path is harder to follow, in fact I lost it for a while and had to search for it by following a topo line on my tracker until I hit it again. This hike would be hellish for a leisure hiker. But if you’re an adventurous hiker who finds pleasure in being deep in the wilderness, bushwhacks and scrambling. This is the perfect hike for you. Definitely one of the most remote and difficult peaks in the Whites.

3 days ago

Miles are off from what we tracked. This was a fun hike with lots of different adventures along the way. A little bit of everything, streams, rain, wildlife, rock climb, scramble, and lots of beautiful trees, bridges, and camp sites.

Very good hike. Past the hut is very rocky and not an easy hike you need poles. After the view at Zea Cliff you continue on Trailway trail to get to Zealand summit. It is confusing at the junction where Zealand trail heads to Ethan Lake so I did not make it to the summit but turned back.

Best part was seeing a moose!

Many folks don't like the long approach (1450' in 8 miles) or the slide (1450' in 8/10 of a mile!), or the fact that the summit is wooded and affords very little view. I consider this a nature hike. If you take your time, and pay attention, you'll see a lot of wildlife. The day of my hike, I was lucky enough to get a great shot of a pine marten at the summit area, and a beautiful, healthy moose near Black Pond (see photos). If you're looking for great summit views, you won't get them here, but you will get a great nature hike, and a chance to view the wildlife of the Whites!

Top 2 most difficult hikes I have done; I would not attempt this unless you’re in good shape and are an experienced backpacker. The reward for the difficulty are 7 amazing views atop some of the most gorgeous peaks in the north east. Did it two days highly recommend.

Tip: water is scarce between lafayette and last tent site so be prepared before you summit lafayette

Amazing views from the tower and ridge trail. Long hike, lots of time in the woods kinda uneventful. Not blazed very well. Blazes are in the spots you need them in the beginning, but could be much better .

Got a late start and turned around at the hut. We thought the portions of the river were nicer below and at the lower portion of the waterfall (just before the last section to the hut) were nicer for hanging out because of all the people near the hut / falls. My husband skipped the last and only steep rocky hull to the hut as it was our second hike of the day. Lovely trail.

This trail was awesome ! My wife and I had a great time ! Highly recommend!

Great 3 day hike. Took a couple guys out there for their first time backpacking and they had a blast. Make sure you have enough water containers and know where to refill. And remember leave no trace!!

Channeling my inner simon and Garfunkel

Hello Owls Head my old friend, I won’t be climbing you again.

Because an approach so crazy lengthy, followed by a slide that was slippery

And a summit, that was shrouded all in trees. It did not please... and make sure you get to the real top... of Owls Head.

I would not consider this an easy trail. Some parts are easy but others are very rocky. beautiful scenery and the falls are worth the hike. I didn't go any further than the falls.

hiking
19 days ago

The trail for the most part is fine. It is honestly not worth the time and energy unless you are trying to accomplish the NH48. Trail was in ok condition water crossings are manageable, the water level was a little higher for us and in one of them we did need to step into the delightfully cold water. The slide isn't as miserable as expected especially compared to the Tripyramids which is mainly loose gravel. This one was more boulders and the views on a good day make it worth it. I wouldn't do it again personally as the summit is wooded and the views on the slide are great but there a PLENTY of other mountains with lack luster summits with more enjoyable trails.

This was a nice hike, but would definitely rate it as moderate. Views were awesome!

hiking
28 days ago

Wow. I was very pleased with this hike. The eight mile trek in (and out) are what I would consider very easy miles on great trail. There were a few stream crossings I was able to manage hopping from rock to rock fairly easily.

The mountain itself is a bit of a steep scramble up a scree field and then decent but a little overgrown trail to the top. First cairn you reach is not the true summit and you’ll need to follow a trail northward to reach the actual summit.

Surprisingly pleasant hike. This hike seems to get a bad rap but I think people are intimidated by the high mileage. The easy trail in makes up for that. The scree trail up stinks but there’s a bushwhack trail you can take alternatively to avoid it on the way down.

The views from the ridge approaching the summit are spectacular. And the 360 degree view from the fire tower are equally amazing. The access road to the trail head is closed due to a washed out section of road, this adds a pretty boring 2 miles each way from the parking lot at 302. The trail starts off pretty flat, but then you pay for it. It levels out at the ridge, and then a final ascent to the summit. No views whatsoever on the way up until you hit the ridge. Lots of water toward the bottom and thankfully a trickle coming out of a mossy rock wall about 2/3 the way up where we were able to refill. The views always make the hike worthwhile in my opinion, but at 14 miles, I likely won’t be doing this one again. Encountered 6 people total, so probably a good choice if you like to avoid crowds.

Definitely one of the prettier trails I've done! But I think something needs to be made crystal clear: The Zealand trail to the AMC hut is the easy part. In NO way is the Zeacliff trail beyond it to the summit of Mt Zealand considered easy. It's definitely a steep, rocky and moderate trail. My friend and I were one of the few people who tackled it without trekking poles and while I don't think they are necessary it's clear many others did.

The cliff has a lovely view and the day was utterly perfect! the trail was beautifully maintained but the number of bridges was a surprise. A really pretty hike on a trail that was not overly busy. Definitely recommend.

Great trek as others have stated. Sawyer River Road not open yet so did the 2 mile hike up to the trailhead. Continued up Signal Ridge for 5 miles to summit. A good hike in that when you start from Rt 302 you get another 500' or so gain which puts you at about 3,900' gain to the summit. Not that many 4K footers where you can say you trekked 4K to get to the top (my Garmin actually read 3999' at the fire tower!). Continued down Desolation to the Stilwater area to camp. Wanted to do more than just peak bag this one. Nice camping options in the Pemi there. Read in Steve Smith's book how Brutus the bear (450 lbs) terrorized campers back in the day, when there was a shelter in this area. That was nice to know as we dozed off! Returned via Nancy Pond which is amazing! Try this, you'll like it!

wouldn’t rate this trail as “easy” as it may be difficult for beginners. i’d call it “moderate” because there are some steep spots and the majority of the trail is at a nice incline. that being said - my pup had no problem with this trail at all! the views from the summit are just breathtaking. no wonder why it’s on the nh 52 with a view list! the perfect summit to sit, enjoy a lunch and explore! happy trails!

*trail is 1.3 miles each way - 2.6 total!*

No way it's rated easy! past the hut is on the difficult side of moderate. nice view from the cliff and the hut, small pile of rocks and a sign on the summit.

Amazing hike with the best views coming from MT Garfield.. .Not recommended for newbies or out of shape hikers. .My hiking partner and I started clockwise finishing coming down the 4.9 mile trail off bond cliff then the long 8 miles on the Lincoln wood trail to the Parking lot...Next will be the Presidential Traverse

1 month ago

I cheated and used a mountain bike on the woods trail to the bridge but it was so worth riding back to my car

This was an amazing trail that offers spectacular views from every peak. We did this in 4 days and 3 nights. Starting at Bondcliff made for an 11 mile first day, but was manageable with the gradual incline from Lincoln Woods. We added on the West Bond and Galehead summits to this trip as well. The dip between Garfield and Lafayette is long and difficult. The ridge is has views that are breath taking, but watch your footing with the wind that happens. The ridge seems to go forever and your thankful when you have tree cover again.
Currently between Haystack and Liberty there are 100+ trees down, slowing the pace and making the trail more interesting.
Overall, it is a difficult hike but worth every sore muscle in the end.

360 views can't be beat

Tough in the winter but still a great hike! We left the lower parking lot (sawyer river rd is un-plowed) at 9am and got up to the trail head at 10:15am. Made it up to the switchbacks right before the ridge around 2:30pm and decided to turn back. Got back down to the parking lot at 6pm. The snow made it very strenuous and we definitely made the right choice to turn back. We will definitely be back in the spring to get to the summit!

I did this with a friend in 3 days in September staying at Greenleaf and Galehead hut for the two nights. That made the pack lighter. Gorgeous views. We hit 10 4000' peaks and the last day had a super clear view for the three Bonds. Fantastic 360 views. I would definitely hike this again. It's hard. Lots of rock scrambling, not for the faint of heart. Great elevation gain & loss over the three days. Start early each day and go go go cause it's hard terrain to cover each day. I loved running into the thru hikers on the AT. Got a bad calf cramp on the last day & a few blisters but overall a wonderful experience.

In the winter Sawyer River Road is generally closed, adding 2 miles each way to the hike. Pretty challenging ascent in snowshoes, will definitely be feeling it tomorrow.

Great cold hike, definitely not as cold as it could have been but there were some extraordinarily windy spots. The trail was VERY Wet and saturated with water throughout the entire hike. There were a few rainy days beforehand that probably didn't make it better.

One thing I noticed no one really mentions is how many bridges there are, I counted over 90 from the beginning of the trail to the summit of Zealand. Most are after the hut. Nothing wrong with the amount of bridges but based on the other peaks I have hiked it was the most I had ever seen. The bridges around the Zeacliff outlook are loose and SINK when you step on them. There are parts of mud that are pretty much unavoidable, jumping with a heavy pack is pretty exhausting lol.

We actually started before sunrise so we had to use our headlamps for the first 40 minutes or so which was pretty cool. The bridges around the pond area were a bit icy but nothing crazy. We did experience a moose on the trail, luckily it looked like we spooked him more than he did us and we saw him run off into the marshy area.

The trail was a bit busy especially on our way back. Overall a fun hike, obviously with how wet the trail is it is very slippery especially the logs. No bug issues thanks to the temperature, I would imagine it would be pretty miserable during summer with how much water is around. Beautiful trail, definitely would fall hike this again maybe even early spring when the snow has begun to melt.

side note we did get chased down the mountain for a little bit by a bird, definitely a 1st and hopefully the last

I did this as a 2-day backpack counterclockwise loop, camping at Garfield. Fantastic hike with lots of varying terrain and great views throughout! 2 days is enough if you are willing to keep moving - I was also able to bag side peaks Galehead and North Twin.

I did the one day challenge for the loop. It was tough but awesome. I would say im an average hiker, about 50lbs over weight, with 2 bum ankles. I started around 6:30am, Sat Oct 21st. I decided to go clockwise as I wanted that nice easy 10+ miles to end the day. That nice and easy 10+ miles would not be nice or easy, but I'll get to that.
The hike up Flume and liberty was nice but slow. I was on Liberty at 9:30am. I had made a decision to hike slowly on the inclines to save my legs and would employ this strategy all the way through the hike. It worked really well, but you feel like a snail. The liberty camp sites' water source was dripping slowly and made it near impossible to resupply. Franconia ridge was next and it was packed. I was on Lafayette at noon. It was crystal clear views but very windy. I thought the hike from Lafayette to Galehead hut was going to be a lot faster and easier than it was. The terrain is tricky and its just hard to put a few steps together in some places. There is good water at the camp sites and at the hut. The hut is where you need to camel up because the next reliable water source is not until after Bondcliff. After the hut you have an awesome climb up South Twin. It is hard but its the last strenuous climb of the hike. The rest is a cake walk, if you're in shape, and used to doing long miles in a day, or if you're doing a multi day hike of the loop. At this point I was still feeling good and got some good shots of just after sunset on the top. This is the point where I knew I would finish the hike and started cursing myself for bringing a full, multi day pack, instead of my day pack. I ate some dinner and got out my headlight for some night hiking. Its supposed to be 2 miles to Guyout, its easy terrain, some how it took me 1.5 hours. I don't know how or why but maybe my speedometer was just thrown way off by the dark. Or maybe I left South twin a lot later than I thought I did. My memory plays tricks on me. Walking up to the summit of Bond was when my body said enough! No longer could I take graceful and smooth discerning steps. My brain was telling me to turn around and go to the Guyout shelter. It seems both mentally and physically I had hit a wall. Now the whole hike was emotional and physical ups and downs, Im not talking about some aches and pains mixed in with some doubt. My legs just plain refused to do what I asked them to do. Sure they would move forward but now they wobbled and didn't land exactly right. SO these last 10+ miles were now not going to go well. It was slow going and painful but I managed to get up over Bond and Bondcliff and by this point I was really looking forward to the water that cascades out of the side of the mountain a mile or so from the summit... but it was dried up. I stood there at 'the crossing' of what is usually a lot of water, very thirsty and wanted to just lay down and go to sleep. In the distance I heard a trickle, so I slack packed down the dried stream bed to find the trickle. It ended up not being to far, maybe 40 yards. I drank a lot of water and luckily had some Gatorade powder still so I could replenish some electrolytes. The last 8 miles were still slow and painful especially with all the leaves covering all the roots and rocks. I made it to my car at 3:17am, pulled out my sleeping bag, got in the back seat, and was out within seconds. It was worth it! What a great challenge!

We went throughout the notch to the Desolation Trail and Ascended the back side, then down the Signal Ridge Trail for 13.4 miles. There was quite a bit of mellow hiking, but you pay for it on the way up the back side!

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