Now that the school year has started, I don’t have quite the flexibility to hike during the week as I did during the summer. I have to make the longer trips on available weekends and during the week do shorter trips that I’m calling the “Carpool Challenge”. You see, my children are part of a carpool and I drive the afternoon trip to pick up the children. I’ve decided to challenge myself to try to get in a shorter hike and still make it to pick up the children on time. Insane, but you take you get sometimes.
So then, why did I chose to do the 8+ mile Hale Loop via Hale Brook, Lend-A-Hand, Twinway and Zealand Trails? That really is a little longer of a trek than I’d consider for a Carpool Challenge day. If you think about it though, most of this trip is down hill or flat, which would be ideal for a quicker pace. The only elevation gain is the 2300 feet that you gain in the 2.2 miles of the Hale Brook Trail. I also knew that for this day, my husband had offered to drive the afternoon carpool, so I didn’t really *have* to make it back on time.
The hike up to the summit of Hale was really nice – it was breezy, there was sunshine and there was plenty of water in the streams making for pretty scenery and sounds. There were only a few places in the lower portion of the trail before the switchbacks that had some erosion damage, but nothing impassable. The summit was the same as the last time I was here about 5 years ago, a gigantic cairn and very limited views due to the trees.
I took a break and then started the descent down the Lend-A-Hand Trail. I’d never been on this trail, and I found it to be quite nice and liked the variety of scenery. There was mossy forest, ledges with views, and plenty of rocks, water and bog bridges. Due to the recent amount of rain, the trail was soggy in places and a stream in others. I wasn’t surprised about this, but it added an additional fun challenge of keeping the feet dry while rock and root hopping.
Eventually, I came to the Twinway and stopped for a quick break at Zealand Falls Hut. The falls were loud and quick on this day and it was early enough in the day so the hut was quiet with only one other visitor coming through while I was there.
After a snack, it was time to head for the car – almost 4 miles away as I parked the car at the Hale Brook Trail parking area. I was interested to see how much water would be on this trail. I’ve seen it dry and I’ve seen it literally turn into a stream during a downpour. For the most part it was dry and the views back toward Zealand Notch were good. There was one section near the portion of the trail that has all the wooden boardwalks and bridges that has quite a bit of erosion and quite a bit of water in the usual places. The trail is usable, but there will probably be some trail done here in the future. The rest of the trail was fine and the trip to the car was easy.
I had a nice day out on the trails, had great weather and got to hike a new trail. Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I did make it to the car in time to make the carpool. Thanks to my husband though, I didn’t have to worry about it this day!