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04 September 2016

A Visit to Zeacliff via a Loop Hike


At the end of August 2016, I did a 9.2 mile counterclockwise loop hike with my primary target being a viewpoint known as Zeacliff.

This trek took place in the Zealand area of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest.  The origin of the name "Zealand" is lost to history, but this area was labeled on early maps as "New Zealand", perhaps suggesting some possible association with islands in the South Pacific.  Whatever its origin, the name "Zealand" has proliferated to a number of land features, such as: Zealand Notch; Zealand Pond; Zealand Falls; Zealand River; Zealand Mountain; and Zealand Ridge whereupon my destination, Zeacliff, is located.

Show below is a map with my route highlighted in yellow.

Map showing my route highlighted in yellow


Of all the many awesome views from Zeacliff, my favorite is this southward vista.  A few of the prominent features include the "V" shaped Carrigain Notch (on horizon at CENTER), and the bare cliffs on nearby Whitewall Mountain (at LEFT).
Another outstanding view from Zeacliff is the ENE vista looking across the flat top of Whitewall Mountain toward the Willey Range, and onward to peaks in the Presidential Range on the horizon (at LEFT).
A zoomed view of the Presidential Range that features Mt. Washington (at CENTER)
(Pemigewasset  Wilderness signage near junction of Twinway and Zeacliff Trail)
Following a delightful visit to Zeacliff, I hiked a short distance westward on the Twinway Trail to join up with the Zeacliff Trail which runs through the Pemigewasset Wilderness for nearly its entire 1.4 mile length.
It's difficult to convey in a photo, but perhaps this snapshot will provide some sense of the wilderness through which the Zeacliff Trail runs.  When taking this photo, I was standing on the trail (slightly visible at bottom left).
I love the 'rough and tumble' nature of the Zeacliff Trail.  Those who have descended it might recognize this spot where the trail dumps you off at the top of a cliff.  There isn't a ladder, or other assists.  You're on your own! :-)
There are no trailside viewpoints along the Zeacliff Trail itself.  However, I was able to find this view of Carrigain Notch by bushwhacking to a spot located only about 75 ft off the trail.
The Zeacliff Trail crosses Whitewall Brook about 0.2 mile below the junction with the Ethan Pond Trail.  At this point, I found a comfortable boulder in the middle of the brook and had lunch!
Upon approaching the Ethan Pond Trail, I looked westward up at Zeacliff where I had enjoyed fabulous views earlier in the day.
Also at the junction of the Zeacliff Trail and Ethan Pond Trail there is this "up-close and personal" view of Whitewall Mountain.
Looking southward from a point near the junction of the Zeacliff Trail and Ethan Pond Trail is this vista where, on the distant horizon, you can see the tops of Mts. Carrigain (at LEFT) and Hancock (at RIGHT).
This last photo was actually taken at the beginning of my hike.  It features a boardwalk along the Zealand Trail that takes you over a wetlands area.  It is picturesque in its own right, but lacks the character of the Z-shaped boardwalk that once traversed this same area.



Jamie said...

I am one of the Zeacliff trail adopters, how is the overgrowth looking? I am debating whether or not to go work on it this weekend.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Jamie,

I too am a Trail Adopter, and from an Adopter’s perspective, I thought the Zeacliff Trail was in good shape. Thank you for your trail work! A great job is being done by you and the other adopter(s) of this beautiful trail.


Karl said...

Hi John,

A great set of photos here!

I agree with your first photo being one of the favorites. A view over to Carrigain Notch is always breathtaking. I also particularly like the Pemi Wilderness sign on the trail...looks nice and inviting.

Your info the the "Zealand" features up north is interesting. If it was called "New Zealand" on early maps, I would assume Zealand may have been or is a town in England for which maybe it was renamed. However, I wonder why they named the cliff (I assume it's an actual cliff) Zeacliff and not Zealand Cliff to follow suit with everything else. Why not Zeapond, instead of Zealand Pond...etc.

Another great one, John!

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Karl for reading my blog, and for your generous comments about the photos.

For sure, "Zealand " is an interesting moniker. None of the reference sources that I have checked have been able to definitively pin down why this area is so-named. And equally intriquing is the question you raise as to why the cliff along the Zealand Ridge is named Zeacliff, rather than Zealand Cliff.


One Day in America said...

Hi John,

I was out of internet and cell phone range for a week, my first-ever trip to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, Michigan.

How interesting that part of New Hampshire was once named New Zealand. Did the same explorers who "discovered" New Zealand also make a stop in New Hampshire?

The photos from this hike are fabulous. That dump-off at the top of the cliff, well, with my knees not as supportive as they used to be I would have had to be pretty careful coming down at that spot!

Also I love that you showed a picture of your lunch spot. When Tim and I are out for a hike on a nice day we often stop on rocks in a particularly scenic area for lunch or a snack.

Looks like another great hike!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

I’ll be most eager to read your blog posting about the trip to Isle Royale National Park. It’s one of the many places I’ve never visited. However, I have read about it, and seen photos taken from there. It looks like a very beautiful part of America.

Regardless, I keep hoping that some reader of my blog will be able to provide some enlightenment about the origin of the name “Zealand” that is used to identify a particular area of New Hampshire. From what I’ve been able to determine from my research, the origin of the name appears to be lost to history.


Beckie Jani said...

Hi John, Thank you for this timely report! My daughter Prema and I are thinking of this for Sunday, so it's nice to see such a recent report. Great shot of Whitewall; we were crazy enough to climb up that last year.


1HappyHiker said...

So glad you enjoyed this blog posting, Beckie! Hope you have an equally great experience on your hike to Zeacliff.

It's great to read that you've climbed to Whitewall. It's ranks high on my list of favorite mountains. In some ways, it's unfortunate that there are no trails to Whitewall. But on the other hand, it's sort of nice to have a few special places for adventurous hikers who are willing to travel to places without trails. ;)