Zealand was a logging town started by James E. Henry in the late 1800s. Henry first started logging east of here around the current day Mount Washington Hotel, but in 1884 Henry started the Zealand Valley Railroad and switched his focus to this spot. Buildings in Zealand included a mill, store, post office, charcoal kilns and lodging for workers. As was his trademark, Henry made quick work of the forest. By 1892, there was little left to log, and Henry moved his operation to Lincoln. The Zealand Valley, clear-cut, eroded and covered in slash, burned in the devastating fire of 1903.
Today, the forest has returned and recreation has replaced logging as the principle activity. The Zealand Road (closed in winter) runs 3.5 miles into the Valley along much of the old railroad bed and provides access to numerous popular hiking trails. The picnic area and campground here at the base of the road are idyllic resting spots where J.E. Henry’s town once stood. Across the bridge on the right side is the start of The Flat Iron Trail, an easy walk in summer and popular cross-country ski trail in winter. It follows the Zealand and Ammonoosuc Rivers along an old road once known as Glacial Ridge Road, so named because it was built on a gravel ridge or “esker” left by a glacier.
Directions to Next Site:
Next, the Weeks Act Legacy Trail explores further into the Zealand Valley. From the Zealand Picnic Area, travel 1 mile up the Zealand Road. The trail head of the Sugarloaf Trail is on the right just across a bridge.