Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Snowshoeing Zealand Road

Blog Gods please forgive me; it's been six months since my last post.  I couldn't have made this one any easier for myself, hopefully as a reintroduction to regular reports!

On Sunday we met up with Hannah, Amy, and their furkids to hike up the seasonally closed Zealand Road off of Rt 302.  Parking is about a quarter mile down the road on the opposite side of the highway at the Ammonoosuc Lower Falls Trailhead.  I'm not sure if it is marked as such but, coming from the south, there is a sign warning hiking trails are coming up.  This time of year, there's always a mix of pick up's trailering snomo's, the snow-covered vehicles of the hardy folk who camp at the hut, an us day-adventure types.

Generally speaking, hikers and skiers walk along the edge of the snomo trail to get to Zealand Road.  After the picnic area and bridge, the snomo trail veers to the left and the road goes up a hill.  About a mile up, just before the bridge that precedes the Sugarloaf Trail, the road shares paths with snowmobiles once more.

We've always done our best to stick to the side during these junctions and the snomo drivers have always kindly given us a wide berth.  Truly a mixed-usage trail success!

Of course, with the blizzard that's currently dumping snow on us, trail status is irrelevant so I share mostly to highlight the enjoyability of walking Zealand Road this time of year.  Thanks to the hut and its suitability for crosscountry skiers, we've yet to break trail on the road.  Snowshoes have always been our foot gear of choice here. 

The road is gentle and elevation gain is minimal.  For us, those qualities afforded the perfect opportunity for Ty to explore and feel accomplished while carefully building up Tango's mileage, in hopes he will want to join us for bigger adventures in the future.  I'm thrilled that these 7.5 miles passed well and he was jovial and loose the next morning!


Most of the road had one well-trodden route and a less packed but still broken out path running parallel.  Hiking as a group, this was a nice feature that offered us the ability to break from the usual single file formation and/or pass easily.  The road follows the river for much of the way and there are a couple of scenic breaks in the trees.  Otherwise, the surrounding woods are pretty dense.

Sleds make great tracks to follow!
Snowshoeing Zealand Road checks a lot of boxes: to gain confidence in the winter, to get outside on the days serious exertion isn't of interest, in a secluded area but you're not alone, and not too long nor too short.   This is a pretty, non-dramatic hike where it's easy to become absorbed in good conversation and the airy peacefulness of the area.

Looking for the easy way down?

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