The Best Hike in New Hampshire

The Best Hike in New Hampshire

One hike in particular stands out as being very strenuous yet absolutely beautiful on the list of New Hampshire’s 48 4,000 foot mountains. The hike of the Bond Mountains is 19.5 miles and goes over three or four of the 4,000 foot mountains depending on the route taken. With limited time off we rarely have two days in a row to hike, so the 4th of July holiday weekend was perfect for a backpack of this hike. A great forecast of unseasonably cool weather for July and little chance of rain we knew there wouldn’t be a better time for the best hike in New Hampshire!

Start of the hike, large pack!
Start of the hike, large pack!
Zealand Trail, very big pack! Photo credit: Frank
Zealand Trail, very big pack!

After dropping off a car at what would be the end of our hike we grabbed some lunch in town. Knowing I was heading into the woods for a couple of days I ate well. The parking lot to the trailhead was full and cars lined the road, I had concerns that the campsite we were heading to would be full.

Starting at Zealand Trail is a pleasant easy walk for the first 2.5 miles. We enjoyed sparkling streams, walked over a boardwalk passing picturesque beaver ponds and visited a refreshing waterfall.

Boardwalk on Zealand Trail
Boardwalk on Zealand Trail
Zealand Falls
Zealand Falls
Refreshing cold water, love the LifeStraw bottle!
Refreshing cold water, love the LifeStraw bottle!

Hiking Tip: Check out LifeStraw bottles for a great addition to your hiking gear!

After a quick steep scramble we were at Zealand Falls Hut. The hut is run by Appalachian Mountain Club, sleeping 36 people in shared bunkrooms. The bunkrooms which look to be recently redone were sparkling clean and very inviting. I wished we were staying the night for delicious meals and comfortable beds!

Zealand huts comfy bunks
Zealand huts comfy bunks
One of my favorite shots!
One of my favorite shots!

We refilled our water containers for our meal we would have miles later in the day. From the hut we joined the Twinway trail (part of the Appalachian Trail) which had many flat sections of beautiful trail.

An easy section of trail
An easy section of trail
Wet section but very pretty
Wet section but very pretty

Only about a mile from the hut is one of the best views in The White Mountains, Zeacliff. A wonderful large ledge with views of nearby mountains and a perfect spot for relaxing.

Views from Zeacliff
Views from Zeacliff

We continued on towards our shelter and reached Zealand Mountain before sunset. The summit is completely wooded unfortunately but Grey Jays (friendly mountain birds) visited to add some excitement to the viewless summit.

Fun on ladders
Fun on ladders
#36/48 Zealand Mtn.
#36/48 Zealand Mtn.

Shortly after Zealand Mt. we stopped on trail to have dinner. Normally I’d look for a view or wait until we got to the campsite for a meal but we were too far from either and still had daylight to cook by. Despite the full parking lots at each end of our hike we did not see one person on trail in the evening.

Trail dinner
Trail dinner

With extra energy from dinner we were off again. Once the trail was dark we turned on headlamps and continued towards our stop for the night. Along a straight stretch of trail we were startled by a loud growl and huffing sound very close to the edge of the trail. Sadly we didn’t see anything and I won’t know if it was a fellow wildcat or a bear! We were careful to move along quickly and loudly, banging our poles and turning around frequently.

We went up and over the summit of Mt. Guyot in the dark with substantial winds that blew us around the rocky trail a bit. Though Guyot is over 4,000 feet it is not on the NH list as the rise from the ridge of the neighboring mountain is not high enough for the rules of the list.

We arrived at Guyot campsite well after most hikers were asleep. The caretaker explained the shelter, the tent platforms and even the overflow tent sites were completely full. Fortunately we were not turned away but had to get creative. We set up our tent in the outdoor kitchen right next to the two bear boxes!

Creative tent spot
Creative tent spot

Around 4 am hikers awoke to see sunrise on the nearby mountains, clang, clang went the bear boxes all morning! We eventually gave up on sleep when more campers woke to make breakfast in our creative tent location also known as the kitchen. The general attitude of a group of people truly appreciating nature and the mountains is something I love to be around. People discussed what they were having for camp breakfast and their hiking plans for the day. Being in the middle of the wilderness with so many mountains and trails in every direction is absolute bliss to me!

Guyot shelter
Guyot shelter
Happy place! Photo credit: Frank
Happy place!

From the campsite the summit of West Bond is less than a mile away. The trail to the summit is a quick half mile off the main trail so we were able to leave our heavy packs at the trail junction. Without packs we were light on our feet and much quicker! West Bond has a small rocky summit and excellent views of both Mt. Bond and Bondcliff which we would visit next.

Happy 4th of July from the trails!
Happy 4th of July from the trails!
Thanks to random hikers for the shot!
Thanks to random hikers for the shot!

Next we hiked onto Mt. Bond only another mile away. This hike can spoil a hiker with so many views that are so close together! Mt. Bond has a larger flat summit which allowed for more snacking and great photo opportunities. Perfect views of the trail to Bondcliff and the ledges of Bondcliff led to an extended summit break for many photos.

From Mt. Bond
From Mt. Bond

The trail from Bond to Bondcliff is a rocky ridgeline with amazing views into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Not a house or structure in sight just layers of mountains everywhere you look!

Wilderness!
Wilderness!
Heading to Bondcliff admiring the views!
Heading to Bondcliff admiring the views!
Last bit before summit of Bondcliff
Last bit before summit of Bondcliff

Finally we arrived at Bondcliff, my favorite of all New Hampshire’s 48 4,000 foot mountains! In addition to jaw dropping views, many spots to sit and relax Bondcliff has a famous ledge that is picture perfect.

The ledge on Bondcliff
The ledge on Bondcliff

Frank had been thinking (worrying) about this ledge ever since he heard of it years ago. Despite being rather tall Frank has a fear of heights! I’ve always admired his attitude towards his fears though, he continuously pushes himself to face and conquer them. Without any coaxing he went right out onto the ledge with me for photos. Then to my surprise went out again even closer to the edge to get a video with the GoPro camera! It was a great memorable experience full of roar moments!

Gifts for hikers- including GoPro!

Facing his fears! Roar!
Facing his fears! Roar!

Reluctantly we left the summit and started the almost 9 mile hike back to the car. Unfortunately the hike after Bondcliff while going through pretty woods and fairly easy terrain is rather boring. After 2 days with a heavy pack and going up and over four 4,000 foot mountains, long and boring is not welcome. Lincoln Woods Trail is an old railroad bed that never seems to end. I see why many hikers choose to start and end at Zealand Trail despite having more elevation, the views on that route are more rewarding. By the time we reached the parking lot our feet were very sore and our bodies were exhausted.

Heading off Bondcliff
Heading off Bondcliff
Nearing the end of the hike
Nearing the end of the hike
The never ending Lincoln Woods Trail
The never ending Lincoln Woods Trail
Bridge to parking lot!
Bridge to parking lot!

Celebrating our amazing adventure at dinner we reflected on the 19.5 miles we hiked and the privilege of seeing such natural beauty.  There is no doubt that The Bonds are the best hike in New Hampshire!  May there always be more wilderness to explore and mountains to roar from!

Enjoy more photos from the hike:

Not the prettiest sign!
Not the prettiest sign!
Caught taking a macro shot Photo credit: Frank
Caught taking a macro shot
I might have collapsed at this point and looked up to see this!:)
I might have collapsed at this point and looked up to see this!:)
LifeStraw moment on Bondcliff Photo credit: Frank
LifeStraw moment on Bondcliff

Check out our LifeStraw review of the straw and water bottle!

Other hikes you may enjoy:   Mt. Garfield , Mt. Monadnock  or the popular Falling Waters loop of Lincoln and Lafayette

Save this pin for your next hike!

The Best Hike in New Hampshire

About Cathy

Cathy (aka “Wildcat”) is not your typical travel/adventurer. Whether it is traveling across the globe or exploring her beloved White Mountains of New Hampshire, this mother of 4’s curious nature has led her to find adventure everywhere she goes. Her blog RoarLoud.net was first started to chronicle the training and journey to the “Rooftop of Africa” – Mt. Kilimanjaro. Since that time, RoarLoud.net has expanded to highlight everything connected with the unique and fascinating adventures a Wildcat can find. She shares with her readers tips, advice, and encouragement to find their strength and inner “ROAR”.
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32 Comment

  1. Rick Stevenson says: Reply

    Great report, beautiful pics, and I have to agree on the Bonds being the best hike in the state!

    1. Thanks Rick, glad you enjoyed it! It was hard to narrow down all the photos!

  2. Recently did the Bonds as a two night trip to maximize time to enjoy the views. The sunset from W Bond just before the solstice was amazing. To me the best hike in NH is the one I’m on, but this one will probably stay in the top ten for years to come 🙂

  3. Really beautiful trip! Congratulations!! Looking forward to following more.

    1. Thank you! The excitement for Kilimanjaro is building, glad to have you along for the journey!

  4. John Swenson says: Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree that this is the best hikein the Whites! Great photos and report bring back lots of good.memories from my own trips there.

    1. Thanks John! It was a great weekend, I am so glad that Frank had such a great first experience of the Bonds!

  5. […] the summit of Bondcliff which is known for an iconic ledge that scares many who are afraid of heights, I met young […]

  6. […] The Best Hike in New Hampshire […]

    1. Thank you for featuring me! I love it! Roars to you!

  7. Would love to hike this trail one day. And yes old rail trac ks can seem to go on for miles and miles.

  8. […] photo is from my favorite hike in The White Mountains of New Hampshire. Frank and I did this hike as a backpack on the Fourth of July, we lucked out with perfect […]

  9. […] CLICK HERE TO READ THE HAMPSHIRE BACKPACK POST […]

  10. […] A refillable water bottle that uses their water filtration technology.  It is my must have on warm weather hikes.  There is nothing better on a long, hot hike then to be able to cool off at a mountain stream.  […]

  11. […] in New Hampshire (including Lincoln and Lafayette).   This gorgeous hike made me want to climb them all and see what else I had been […]

  12. […] I don’t need to design the perfect lantern for backpacking and camping, because MPowerd already did it for me. They make a whole line of solar powered lights […]

  13. Rob says: Reply

    Awesome explore! The northeast will continue to amaze me… because in my mind all awesome hiking and mountain adventures happen here in the west. 🙂

    1. Rob you most definitely have amazing hiking out west- I’d love to hike out there! The east is full of great hikes too:)

  14. Marta says: Reply

    Wonderful hike, the scenery looks amazing! I can imagine the atmosphere with the other campers – that kind of bond is one of my favourite part of travel!

    1. Thank you Marta, it was a great backpack. Hikers are some of my favorite kind of people!:)

  15. Carlie says: Reply

    This sounds like an amazing experience, especially for love birds! I love the shot of you two on the ledge! framer 🙂

    1. Thank you:) It is a beautiful hike with so many picturesque spots!

  16. […] has become a fun way to find a challenge.  We both started out hiking small and have built up to longer hikes.  Seeing how much your body is capable of has been empowering for both of […]

  17. Tom says: Reply

    Great post! I have a question though: you seem to start at Zealand Woods and end at Lincoln Trail..is this true? If so how did you get back to your car when you finished (shuttle I assume)?

    1. Hi Tom, We drove 2 cars and then had the long ride home separately. I’d like to try the out and back to Zealand next time- it does add some elevation but avoids the dreaded Lincoln Woods walk and the car spot. If we ever finished or started hikes at reasonable times the shuttle would be a good option:)

  18. anto says: Reply

    Great inspiration! I’d love to go hiking in this part of the US one day!

    1. You should definitely come visit in New Hampshire, I’d love to go for a hike with you! So many great hikes here in New Hampshire and then in nearby Maine and Vermont!

  19. […] love hiking! We hike on vacation and when we are at home. Hiking is so much more than just exercise for us though. I realized that hiking has given back to […]

  20. […] never be on the same popularity level as other hiker favorites like Lincoln or Lafayette or the Bonds, but any place in the Whites is a guaranteed adventure.  Speaking from personal experience, I […]

  21. […] The Best Hike in New Hampshire […]

  22. […] LifeStraw and Mpowered lantern were used on this hike in New Hampshire […]

  23. […] He also went onto the ledge at Bondcliff not once but twice.  I think he leaned over to freak me out!  We shared that experience in this article about the best hike in New Hampshire. […]

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