There are a lot of big hikes around us, but Alden isn’t quite ready for a 4000 footer yet. There are smaller hiking adventures, you just have to seek them out. Andrew recalled some short walks off Zealand Road and was reminded of a boardwalk and a wildlife pond. Unfortunately, the White Mountain National Forest website isn’t the most user friendly, but we pieced together enough information from memory to venture out there last weekend. We turned onto the Zealand Road off of Route 302 in Carroll, NH and followed it up to the Sugarloaf Trail parking lot.
We were amazed at how much traffic was there, more than 40 cars lined one side of the road. At first we thought there was a special event happening, but we came to the conclusion that this was probably a regular occurrence (of course it also was Memorial Day weekend). We lucked out and got a prime parking spot in the actual lot and crossed the road (east) following a small sign for the wildlife pond.
Snowmobile trails also cross here and probably would make for a nice walk too. The trail to the wildlife pond was quiet and quaint. As the trail got wetter, rhodora bloomed on the sides and a boardwalk kept our feet dry. The beavers are active in this area creating several ponds of water.
The views of Sugarloaf were amazing and it really felt like we were deep in the woods. Another family was fishing at the wildlife pond and we made a note to come back with our poles. Not sure what is in the pond, the only thing we saw were leeches swimming around. We spied a bench on the other side of the pond and tried to make our way around to it, but never found the trail.
Back at the parking lot we walked down the Trestle Trail/X-Country ski trail toward a campground. It was a short walk and we were quickly in the campground. We were hoping to walk along the x-country ski trail for a little bit, but didn’t know where that trail continued on from the campground. Again, the WMNF has very limited information on their website about these trails.
Before we headed back, we took a spur trail down to the edge of the Zealand River, noting the Trestle Trail on the other side of the river.
This was just a short walk, avoiding the high traffic trails, but still enjoying the outdoors and getting a good view. We will definitely be back to explore again.