Wednesday, September 20, 2017


On a humid, partly sunny day I went looking for early foliage color in the scenic Zealand valley, one of the best of all places for fall hiking.

Ledges on the Zealand River, just off the Zealand Trail.

Zealand Ridge beyond a beaver swamp.

The bridge that replaced the former "Z-Bridge."

Smooth walking on the grade of the 1890s Zealand Valley Railroad.

A peaceful scene.

Mt. Tom seen across the beaver pond near the A-Z Trail junction.

Zeacliff Pond Peak beyond the north end of Zealand Pond.

Zealand Pond.

Zeacliff rises above Zealand Pond.

A fine maple glade a short distance along the Ethan Pond Trail.

Zeacliff and Mt. Hale from the open area along Ethan Pond Trail in Zealand Notch.

Mt. Hale, with Zealand Falls Hut visible left of center.

The only people I saw on the Ethan Pond Trail were a southbound Appalachian Trail thru-hiking couple, Lady and the Tramp.

The cliffs and talus of Whitewall Mountain.

Heading south through Zealand Notch. Hard to believe a railroad was put through here.

Shoal Pond Peak and the NW ridge of Mt. Hancock.

Along the Ethan Pond Trail.

Early color along the trail.

Wild woods of the Eastern Pemi region.


The broad ledge at the top of Thoreau Falls offers a view of Mts. Bond and Guyot.

A wider view, including Zealand Mountain.

 Mount Bond, with birch gold on is flank.

Thoreau Falls from the top.

Side view of the falls.

Zoom on the lower drop.

Hikers take in the view.

I crossed the North Fork at the top of the falls and descended 0.3 mile along the lightly-used Thoreau Falls Trail until it came back near the river. I hoped to find "Echo Cascade," a water feature described in an 1879 article in the White Mountain Echo tourist newspaper. Joe Richardson found it earlier this summer and posted some great photos. Lost waterfall sleuth Chris Whiton has also taken some fine photos of Echo Cascade.

I started bushwhacking upstream and soon ran into some very gnarly terrain, so I canned the search and settled for this fine pool and waterslide, somewhat reminiscent of "The Pool" along the Shoal Pond Trail.

A mini-cascade at the top of the waterslide.

Leaning red maple.

Not a bad spot to hang out for a while, out in the Pemi Wilderness.

Back at Thoreau Falls, dark clouds were gathering.

Peaceful scene in the Zealand valley, redux.

Early foliage on Mt. Oscar, from Rt. 302.


  1. The area on the Ethan Pond Trail walking around and over the fallen boulders is my favorite spot in the Whites not on a summit. The first time I walked through was just pure awe and amazement. Glad you had a good day!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Nick. I agree, Zealand Notch is one of the truly special spots in the Whites.

  2. Just did this hike yesterday with my husband and our dog. Even though this is the Columbus Day weekend there were no more than a handful of hikers on the Ethan Pond Trail. The autumn color was spectacular with all the young maples a beautiful shade of red. We had lunch at the falls by ourselves. This was in stark contrast to the number of people we finally met on the way back who were just hiking up to the hut.

    1. Glad you had a good hike out there, Charlotte! I've had the falls to myself a number of times over the years. The crowds really thin out once you pass the turnoff for the hut.