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Trail Conditions

Trip Log


Mt. Hale
Bethlehem, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
Looking up the Hale Brook Trail
Looking up the Hale Brook Trail

Route: Snowmobile trail, Zealand Road, Hale Brook Trail, (Mt. Hale), Hale Brook Trail, Zealand Road, snowmobile trail

After a slow ride up in the bad weather, I hung out at the parking lot east of the Zealand Road entrance for awhile, wondering what kind of hike this would be. Though it was snowing, it looked like it was going to change to sleet and freezing rain as the day progressed.

We barebooted the snowmobile trail to Zealand Road and part way up Zealand Road (I barebooted all the way to the Hale Brook Trail trailhead). While supposed the road was supposed to be plowed for logging activity, there was only a single file packed trail up it.

Arriving at the Hale Brook Trail trailhead, it looked like perhaps some skiers had broken out the trail after the recent trio of snowstorms - good deal! Unfortunately, this was too good to be true, as the tracks ended a few hundred feet up the trail. No one had been up this way since the snowfall, so it was trailbreaking the entire way up. While the powder generally was knee deep with snowshoes on, there were a few parts in which I sank up to my stomach. As a result, the ascent too me about three times as long as normal. Perhaps the trickiest part, though not overly technical, was the section of trail below the second sizable water crossing - the trail ascends with a steep slope on either side. While the snow was only knee deep on the downhill side of it, the uphill was hip deep for pretty much the entire duration of this part - losing one's footing could have resulted in a nasty, steep tumble.

The views from the summit were zip, nada, zilch. Fortunately, other than some wind, things weren't overly cold, so there was ample time to switch into dry clothes for the descent.

While the descent down the trail went relatively quickly, I found the slog back out Zealand Road to be very taxing and dull. Blah. Nonetheless, it was nice to get some exercise despite the weather. While the sun never broke out, much of the Hale Brook Trail was still rather scenic and fairly worthwhile.

Hike Ratings
Getting To Trailhead: Difficult
Destination: Mt. Hale
Length: Difficult
Steepness: Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Minimal due to weather
Crowds: Minimal

Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Hike Commenced: 8:25 AM
Parking Elevation: 1,480'
Destination: Mt. Hale
Ascent Commenced: 9:52 AM
Summit Reached: 1:06 PM
Time Elapsed: 03:14
Trailhead Elevation: 1,770'
Summit Elevation: 4,054'
Distance: 2.3 miles
Vertical Gain: 2,304'
Hike Ended: 3:38 PM
Hike Time Elapsed: 07:13
Hike Vertical Gain: 2,714'

Hale Brook Trail trailhead
Hale Brook Trail trailhead

Due to the clouds, this was about all there was to see around the summit area - Click to enlarge
Due to the clouds, this was about all there was to see around the summit area

Topographic map of Mt. Hale - Click to enlarge

Directions to trailhead: Take US 302 west from Bartlett past Bretton Woods Ski Area. In winter, there is a plowed parking lot on the right, shortly after a bridge, just before the closed Zealand Road entrance appears on the left. In winter, to get to the trailhead from there, one can hike up Zealand Road.

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