Zealand Falls

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Zealand Falls
Drive from Hanover 95 miles
Ski 13 miles
Difficulty Strenuous

Skiing to the Zealand Falls Hut is one of the best beginner backcountry XC ski trips in the Whites. Though it is friendly to beginners to the backcountry, it is probably too intense for those who are beginners to skiing in general. To have a safe and fun time, make sure all you're trippees are comfortable cruising around the golf course where it's open before you take them back into the woods.

Driving Directions

Take 91 North to 93 South. Get off at 10/302 East, and continue about ten miles to the Zealand Campground parking lot. Park here - your trailhead is on the other side of the road.

Skiing Directions

Close to Zealand Campground is Zealand Road, heading south from 302. This road is typically closed and unplowed in the winter, making it an ideal place to ski. This road is generally flat, but has some steepish bits that make it interesting (challenging, for beginners). Follow the road about five miles, until it ends at the Zealand Trailhead. From here, you're headed back into the woods, passing some lovely snowed over beaver ponds. In about 2.5 miles, you will reach the turnoffs for the falls and hut. It gets steep here, and most people will want to leave their skis behind. The falls are beautiful, and the hut is open in the winter, and makes a nice warm sheltered place to eat lunch. If you have some extra time, continue down the trail into to gorgeous Zealand Notch.

Five miles on the road plus two and a half to the hut makes for about a fifteen mile round-trip.

Advice and Anecdotes

The Zealand Road is usually closed and unplowed, but some years it may be closed and plowed for logging reasons. If this happens, you'll need to ski the whole way in on a trail that parallels the road (not marked on WMG maps), which adds quite a bit to the time and backcountry ski chops required for this trip. You can check status here: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/conditions/roads_status.php, but it would be wise to call the forest service as well.

More Information

Trip Reports

1/28/2012 Leaders: Georgi Klissurski ’14 (Heeler), Matt Pickart ’13 (Co-Leader) Group: 10 trippees with no to moderate skiing experience, a really fun bunch: Florence, Bukola, Katie, Brendan, Claire, Madison, Laura, Ariel, Edward, and Neil. Weather: great temperatures (30s), cloudy for the most part, some sun here and there, no wind; really pleasant overall Trail/Snow conditions: good overall; snow cover was about 5 inches; very skiable, especially given the warm weather lately; sometimes the snow was very sticky and the skis wouldn’t slide, but no big difficulties. Description: We parked at the Zealand Campground parking lot on Route 302 and stared skiing from there on the ski road leading to the Sugarloaf trailhead. We continued skiing on the road, along the Zealand River and then reached the Zealand trailhead (about 3 miles from the parking lot). We skied for another half a mile in, then left our skis and hiked for another half a mile because the trail was very narrow and rocky, so it didn’t allow for good skiing. After a group picture by the Zealand River, we turned back. Mileage and Time: 3.5 to 4 miles in and then back (a total of 7-8 miles). It took us from 10:30 AM to about 3:30 PM to complete the whole trip, with a 30-minute lunch and several snacks/water/pictures breaks!

1/14/2012 Leaders: Gerben Scherpbier '14, Julia Kelson '12, Billy Zou '12, Will Bishop '12 Group Size: 22!

Weather: Cold! (between 0 and 10 degrees) but sunny. Trail Conditions: about 6" to 8" of snow. The Spruce Goose trail was skiable but there were a few rocks sticking up in certain places. The road had been packed down by snomobiles and made for fast skiing. Very good coverage on the road. Description: We started skiing up on the Spruce Goose road but after a few miles we switched to the road because it was easier and faster for the group. We skied uphill to the parking lot and had a picnic lunch there. The ski down was fast and exciting. The trip was manageable but challenging (especially the section on Spruce Goose) for first-time cross country skiers. With a group composed of various skill levels and of such a large size, we took approximately 6 hours for the trip with about an hour of lunch and other breaks. The trip was beautiful and fun but I would love to make it up to Zealand Falls Hut and waterfall at some point.

12/11/2011 (Wheatstarch) Leaders: David Rice 14, Charlie Governali 12, Kyle Heppenstall 13 Trippees: Max, Jen, Brian, Claire, Amy (5) We started where the Zealand Rd met 302. After a ~3 mi ski on the road we hiked for another ~3 miles to the Zealand Falls hut. The road had a thin layer of snow on top of the ice (from frozen ice/slush). Everyone brought cross-country skis, poles, microspikes, and the normal layers. We used the skis and poles for the ski, and spikes for steep sections of our hike. Notes: Road had a thin layer of snow on top of ice, but people were still crossing over exposed road. ~1 mile from the hut there was a stream that would have been easier to cross if everyone had poles.

12/10/2011 (Wheatstarch) Leader: Kyle Heppenstall D13

  1. of Trippees and Names: (10) - Krystyna, David Rice, Claire, Max, Brian, Amy, Colin, Andi, Lexi, Molly,

Weather: high 20s and low 30s

Snow conditions: around two inches of snow (max) on a coating of ice

Times: We skied for around 3 hours from 1:30 to 4:30.

Mileages (routes): Everyone skied between 2 and 2.5 miles out on the Zealand road, and then back.

Trail Notes: A couple inches of snow on a layer of ice. Not great snow cover throughout the road. Any less snow and we would not have been skiing.

Gear Brought: Cross-country skis and poles, zero degree bag, sleeping pad, overmittens

Gear Used: Cross-country skis and poles

Logistics: Great introduction to cross-country skiing. The entire way out the road is uphill so the way back took us less than half the time than the way out.