Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mount Hale Loop Hike

The weather forecast was looking ominous early this morning with showers and thunderstorms along with hazy, hot and humid conditions. I have a low tolerance for hot and humid so I chose a short hike to Mount Hale (4,054'). The plan was to park at the Zealand Trailhead, a one mile road walk to the Hale Brook Trail, 2.2 miles to the summit of Mount Hale then 2.7 miles down the Lend-a-Hand Trail, a brief stop at the Zealand Hut and completing the loop with a 2.7 mile hike back to the parking lot on the Zealand Trail.

Sunrise on the drive to the trailhead

 Fog lifting

 Sunrise from Zealand Road

 The road walk

 At the Hale Brook trailhead

After passing by the Hale Brook trailhead I arrived at the Zealand trailhead parking lot and there was plenty of parking available. It was a warm morning and the air hung heavy with humidity. I started my one mile road walk to the Hale Brook Trail. The road walk was a nice warm-up. As I started up the trail I was really feeling the sultry air. There was no cooling breeze and I was sweating profusely. I slowed my pace and increased my fluid intake to keep well hydrated. I also cooled my head off with some water from a nice, cold brook.

 Weather only a slug could love

 The summit is in sight

 Mount Hale summit

 Descending the Lend-a-Hand Trail

I reached the summit of Mount Hale after an hour and a half of hiking, much faster than I thought and that included the road walk. While taking a short break by the summit cairn I heard some very loud insect-type buzzing. I'm not sure what it was, sounded like maybe a bee hive close by. Clouds were moving in and I started my descent down the Lend-a-Hand trail.

Just below the summit of Mount Hale

 Wet and muddy

This is a great trail and there are many sections that are flat. It is also very wet along the way and there is a series of plank walkways to help get through these areas. I reached the Twinway Trail and it was a very short one-tenth of a mile to Zealand Hut.

Within minutes of reaching the hut the first raindrops were falling. My timing was perfect and I arrived here in time to stay dry. Ten minutes later there was a deluge of rain. Other hikers that arrived after the rain were soaked to the bone. I waited for the rain to ease up a bit and then continued my hike back to the Zealand trailhead parking area, the final 2.7 miles.

Relaxing at Zealand Hut

 View from Zealand Hut

 ...and here comes the rain

There were numerous sections of the trail that were flooded from the rain that had just fallen. I don't think the rain ever stopped completely. At one point the rain picked up and I was expecting another downpour so I reluctantly put on my waterproof shell knowing I would be sweating inside it but I wouldn't be drenched. This didn't last long as it was too hot and miserable with the shell and it looked like the rain was about to end as the sky got brighter.

Light rain continued all the way to the parking lot and it was just before noon when I arrived. As I got to the car the rain stopped and the sun started to break through the clouds. I changed into dry clothes and had something to eat. The clearing continued and there was blue sky and fair weather clouds all the way home.

I have hiked to Mount Hale a couple of times but never taken the Lend-a-Hand Trail. This was a very enjoyable trail and it was nice to be able to do a loop hike. This hike was exactly what I was looking for today.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Roberta, it was nice capturing those photos from the dry and comfortable hut!

  2. Excellent blog, Don! Lend-a-hand trail is really pretty.

    1. Thanks Jill, after a sweltering hike to the summit is was nice to cool down on Lend-a-Hand!