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Bradford, VERMONT
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Ranger Review: Banner& Oak Trek Burgundy Ladies Cap at Zealand Falls Hut

Campground/Hut Review

I stayed at Zealand Falls hut a few years ago while finishing my pursuit of the New Hampshire 4000-footers and have revisited it a few times on shorter hikes (it’s ony 600’ of elevation and less than 3 miles), including this weekend. It serves as a family-friendly first destination for new backpackers, a jumping off spot for a Bond traverse, or a winter destination. This is one of the few huts open year-round, although in winter you’ll have to hike up Zealand Road to the trailhead. 

With a stay in the hut during peak season, you’ll receive a pillow, 3 wool blankets, and family style dinner and breakfast. The rest of the year you’ll have a pillow and maybe a fire in the fireplace in the evening; everything else is on you, so plan accordingly. The co-ed bunkrooms are on either side of the central dining room and kitchen. The bunks are triple deckers and are not assigned. You have lots of neighbors in the bunkroom and someone is likely to snore, so you'll want some earplugs(usually supplied) if you can't sleep through it. 

It’s clean, folks are friendly, and the Croo will entertain while reminding you of the rules of hut life. There are compost toilets and cold running water. There are games and books for entertainment. Snacks are available. There may be a nature talk. If the skies are clear, you’ll want to check out the stars. A stay in the hut is pricey, but it's a great bargain if you have a long traverse ahead of you and want to keep your load a bit lighter.  Be sure to make your reservation well in advance; the ease in reaching it makes it a popular spot! Zealand is one of the cozier huts. 

One of the nice things about this hut is its location next to Zealand Falls. This late in the summer the water flow was on the low side, but I’ve been here when it’s been so high after a heavy storm that hikers had difficulty crossing it. From the ledges you have a view across the pond toward Mt. Tom and toward Nancy, Chocorua, and Carrigain. Relax on the rocks and soak up the sun, listen to the water, & chat with fellow explorers, or sit on the porch and greet hikers as they arrive. Time it right and you’ll likely meet AT through hikers with tales to tell. 

Product Review: Banner & Oak Trek Burgundy ladies cap

As a Ranger with The Dyrt, I sometimes get to review equipment. This time around I had a Banner & Oak Trek Burgundy cap for ladies. I chose it because I like caps with a low crown and this was in a color I frequently wear. Rain was threatening and I’m always trying to keep raindrops off my glasses, so this seemed like a good time to try it out; I find a cap also helps keep my hood in place. The fabric is so soft (true of all 3 Banner & Oak items I tested) and it’s easily adjustable, so the fit was perfect. Easily…that’s the operative word here. Banner& Oak chose a closure that makes adjustments so much easier than the ones where you have feed it through a bit at a time. Open the clip, pull the end, close the clip when it’s at the right spot.There’s a metal rim where the tab feeds into the cap so it won’t wear. The brim is slightly curved, which I like. I’m looking forward to a lot more hikes with my Banner and Oak cap!

Hidden gem

This place is a hidden gem! We find this place on a whim from a local who suggested we check it out. The lots are huge with fire pits. Our site was right on the river! You can swim right in the river. Pet friendly. They have a recreational area right as you enter. The owners are super sweet and nice. 100% yes!!

Awesome

Large sites River front Well worth the drive

Top Notch

We just spent 5 days at this wonderful campground. They have paid attention to all of the finer details. Beautiful landscaping, well leveled sites, very clean and neat. The staff is wonderful. My only disappointment with the camp is that there are only a few sites with sewer hookup. However, the dumping station is conveniently located, so if you have a small tank, daily trips are not a problem. There is plenty to do in the area - Littleton is a beautiful little town. The old houses in are incredible. New Hampshire is not a dog friendly state, but a short Drive into Vermont gets you access to many fine restaurants where you can bring your dog. Be sure to visit Dog Mountain in Vermont- a truly touching memorial to departed pets.

Beautiful Fall Camping Spot

Went up for Columbus Day weekend in 2018. Even though it was raining, it was a beautiful location for the fall. The lake is quiet at that time and few people are around - but it wasn’t deserted. The bathrooms were clean and had stalls, showers, and real sinks(!). The campsite itself was beautiful. We had a spot right next to the water. We pitched our tent and it started to rain the entire night. Somehow we managed to start a fire (even though it took about two hours). The next morning we woke up and steam was rising out of the water. It was quite stunning so we decided to go in for a morning swim! The water was still and warmer than the air, the trees were full of color, and it was truly an incredible time to be up there. They had kayaks and cables for rent by the beach but the rentals weren’t open that late into the season.

Huge campsites lakeside

I couldn't believe how large the lots were. While they arent super far from one another, they are large enough that they seem further than they are. Nice beautiful wooded area, we were able to put a tent and hang a hammock for sleeping. Price was very reasonable. The bathroom closest to us was having a running water issue, but it wasn't a big deal for us the lean too lots looked nice too if you're looking for coverage. It was a little close to the road, but it isnt a major road so I looked at it like a reasonable alarm clock. The lot was freshly raked and there really wasn't anything we didn't like about the site. Campfire pit had a grill!

1st visit

We stayed on lot 47 and 49. Had a great time staying. Only issue was no handicap bathrooms

Awesomeness

This campground is super kid friendly, a nice trail to take a walk/bike ride, A lake to swim, canoe, kayak in. A playground for kiddos to run extra energy off. only down fall it’s a state park so the beach area can be very packed during operating hours. I personally find spots along the trail and let kids play in water were it’s not so crowded. Overall I love it and my kids enjoy it. We started 2yrs ago and we plan on making it our summer camp spot. Also we tent it and the camping sites are pretty big and neighbors aren’t to close. 

happycamper

LOVE LOVE LOVE this campground!

If you couldn’t already tell, we absolutely loved this campground! The one owner we did meet was very pleasant and told us all about the local events within the area and where to go for groceries/dining. He then hopped onto his bike and had us follow him to our camp spot. Once there, he proceeded to direct us as we backed up into the spot. Our camp spot had an amazing view of the lake which we didn’t ask for specifically which made it even better. While the campground itself doesn’t have a lot to do, we managed to find little things here and there to keep us busy. There’s a fish hatchery nearby, the ferry to NY, Seb’s snack shack, the farmers market and a winery/vineyard. The campground also has private access to the water so we spent a lot of time down at the beach with our dog. If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing campground filled with friendly people, I cannot recommend this place enough! I would just suggest wearing shoes into the water as the rocks are very slippery on bare feet!

“Glamping” at its finest

Came here year after year for the culture and ability to entertain without leaving! On premises hiking trails, pool (with water slide), and arcade. When you don’t feel like driving to a trailhead, or into town to do some shopping, this place is perfect for hanging at the site and letting the kids run off on their own. Sites are generally well wooded, well sized, and a bit close together. Water and electric are available, to complete your glamorous car camping experience. It’s a great place to introduce someone to the idea of camping without making them hike a mile with 40% of their body weight on their back. Haha! No cell reception last time I was there, but they had pay phones! REAL pay phones!

First tent camping experience

This was a great place to start our camping adventures. Friendly staff and helpful pointing out places to hike. Site was clean and quiet. Bathrooms were clean and showers were hot. A pleasant treat after hiking.

Beautiful location in VT.

Chill campsite + great location

When checking in, the ranger described this as "a pretty chill campground"; he wasn't wrong. Even though my dog joined in with some other camp dogs barking at people walking by (sorry neighbors), no one seemed to mind. Most everyone packed and headed out early in the mornings, since Crawford Notch is the perfect place to explore hiking, climbing, swimming…generally being outside. For such a prime location, the campsites don't feel cramped, and there's enough trees surrounding most spots to hang hammocks. No cell or internet service, but who wants that in the middle of the Whites anyway?

Amazing Hike! Great Campground

This is a short and sweet hike to one of the higher points in Vermont. It is a beautiful scenic (somewhat strenuous) hike to the summit. The views are pretty epic though. The designated primitive camping area is about 1.5 miles into the hike. If I recall it had about 10-12 sites. The area had a host who was there 24/7 and a shared area for eating and food storage (I guess Bear’s are a problem there). We hiked all day, so we didn’t have a fire and to be honest I can’t remember if there was a shared spot for them or not. Either way, this hike was gorgeous and so was the camping. I would love to go back!

Family friendly

Family friendly campground. Short drive to see wildlife from the road.

quiet, large sites

I reviewed this campground last fall after visiting on the final day of the season, but I just had a chance to sty here during a peak summer weekend and have a few additional insights. Fees are now up to $20/night, still a bargain, but it comes with only the most basic amenities, i.e. vault toilets, running water at faucets, picnic tables and fire rings. Although the campground description indicates that the sites are first-come, first-served, this has changed and many of them are available online in advance. I didn't realize this and when i arrived late Friday afternoon I had 5 or 6 campsites to choose from that could accommodate my small teardrop camper; if I were tent camping, I'd have had a couple more sites available to me. The tent only sites require a short walk from the parking area.

When you arrive, each site will be labelled either Reserved or Open.  If it is Reserved, the dates it is reserved will be listed and they may not be contiguous. All the sites filled up Friday night. 

I had site 24 which I liked. it was very large and level, with ample space for today's large tents. The water spigot was near the site next door. I could see my neighbors, but they didn't bother me. Every host site always seems to look messy with tarp-covered items and wood piles and site 24 will give you a view of the host site, but it's far enough away that you can ignore it. 

If I were in a tent, I'd try for site 22. It's a walk-in site that includes 7-8 steps down, but it opens into a large open area and just a bit beyond there is a small brook, too.

The campground is just a few miles west of I-93 and the town of Woodstock. If you want to hike Mooselauke or the Kinsmans, the Appalachian Trail crosses 112 nearby. Lost River Gorge is nearby as are numerous tourist attractions/activities in Woodstock and Lincoln. Take some time to explore Cascade Park in Woodstock if you want to cool off in the river and lounge on the rocks (park on the street or in the lot that is north of 112 just before the traffic light at Rte 3 in Woodstock). While you're there, pick up ice cream at Coneheads; choose among numerous hard serve ice cream made on site (downstairs) or dozens of soft-serve flavors.

This side of 112 seems quieter than the stretch east of Lincoln. Noise level was quite low. Cell coverage is non-existent for several miles around here; you'll start to get a signal closer to Lost River Gorge in the direction of Woodstock.

Great location

Water hook up was on the opposite side of the site of where the camper needed to be, no sewer hook ups, The owners were very helpful by lending us a hose to help us reach the spigot, offered a honey wagon if needed, and accommodated us to allow our dog to swim. As dogs are not allowed at the beach or dock. Great location but small sites, and a small beach for the amount of sites they have, seems to be set up more for seasonals rather than temporary stay.

Great place to stay for so many reasons

This is a great campsite.  Has all the hook-ups you need with free wifi and cable TV.  Quiet, clean with super clean bathrooms and showers. The camp is well maintained.  Has a pool and a couple playgrounds for the kids AND a recreation room with arcade games, pool, ping-pong and other games.  Free DVD and book lending library, so if you aren't enjoying the great outdoors or walking on their nature trails, you can just read or watch.  Easy access to the lake or hiking trails in the area.  Also just a mile away from downtown Meredith where you can do all kinds of stuff.  Staff is friendly and accommodating.

RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN BOO BOO!

This place should be called “yogi's ghetto camp". An ICE agents dream. Downtown Lawrence in the woods. Filled with the most disrespectful, loud and obnoxious guests I have ever seen and heard. Nobody spoke English and if they did, they were foul mouthed white trash. When we first arrived we were pleased with office and the store was clean, so we were not tipped off to anything unusual. We quickly realized this campground was riddled with health and safety concerns. The bathrooms: We could not ignore the extreme smell of urine in the air. I first chalked it up to someone in a nearby camper having their tank back up or that a toilet in a bathroom had trouble. But the smell never subsided. I went to the bathroom and found puddles on the floors, a backed up toilet and if you can believe it, soiled feminine napkins on the floor. Thankfully we have a working bathroom in our camper, however throughout the 2 days we were there the smell of urine continued. The kids zone: DANGEROUS- We would not allow our children inside the bounce house due to the fact that it wasn't being tended to by a staff member. There were about 45+ children, preteens and older teens inside at the same time jumping, smashing into each other and screaming. This bounce house is a medical emergency waiting to happen. As we were waiting in line to allow our children to use the inflatable water slide, one child literally flew out the side landing on the rock gravel ground. The pools and"hot tub"- OMG someone PLEASE shut this place down! DANGEROUS- both physically and for people's health. No staff or Lifeguard, Unattended children, preteens and teens jumping on top of each other, pushing each other, dirty brown water, used bandaids left on the side of the pool, tripping hazards left around the edge of the pool, wall to wall humans packed into this pool like sardines. You literally could not move. It's shocking that a child hasn't drown in this pool due to the rough housing of the animals dressed like children, tripping hazards and no space to swim. One day a child is going to slip under the water and nobody will realize they're in trouble until it's too late. The hot tub was a small hole in the ground with 20+ adults and 10-15 children packed inside it. Dead bugs, dirty water and pool diapers laying on the side. The golf carts- holy hell- a tragedy waiting to happen! 10 year olds driving up and down the wrong sides of the road with trucks and campers being hauled in and out. Not a single staff member insight to enforce any rules or to stop children from driving. The adult drivers were just as bad! The"beach"- A free for all! No room to move because of the over crowding. Trash left everywhere because the trash can was full. Empty beer and alcohol bottles. Public drinking and intoxicated adults screaming, swearing and fighting. Not one staff member in sight regulating the number of people in one canoe or kayak. Tent sights- Picture 25-30 people in two tents on one sight. The overcrowding for the small amount of sites was unimaginable and none of them spoke English. If you think I have described the worse circumstances for a campground, please multiply it by 10! You cannot imagine how bad it is based on my description. We actually left a day early because I could not handle the deplorable conditions or smell any longer. I am currently working with Pamela Vose at the New Hampton town offices as well as Preston Young at the NH Governors office to get some agencies involved. This place needs to be shut down. If you have similar complaints and concerns as I do, please contact Pamela at pvose@new-hampton.nh.us or Preston Young at preston.young@nh.gov immediately. The only way to get them shut down is to get as many people to email as possible.

Nice place for the price

Older campground, friendly staff with lots of older seasonal sites. We paid $35 for a full hook up and had no problems. Rest rooms could use some updating, the large one was clean, the smaller one not so much and had no TP that day. The fire pits were full of ashes so maybe he only cleans it once a week and we were there on a Wednesday. For that price I would stay there again if I was in the area.

Great stay at Twin Mountain KOA

This was a great campground that we stayed at in July 2019. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. Over the weekend, they organized various activities including a pancake breakfast. The whole campground was very well maintained and the bathrooms were very clean.

Large group camping

Went camping here in a large group on the normal camp sites, had a couple booked next to each other. Worked out great, and the park has plenty of trails to explore for any level of fitness/expertise.

Dispersed camping, be bear aware!

Tripoli Road is a seasonal road, opening in late May most years and closing in autumn. Check the White Mountain National Forest Facebook page for up to date road closures/status. The section before Russell Pond often opens before the rest of it, which is graded, not paved. The road runs between the Waterville Valley area and I-93 exit 31. This is roadside camping, no frills, first come, first served. You must stay at a site with a fire ring, but sites are not numbered. Road signs demarcate no camping zones; some areas look like they could be campsites, but will also be marked with no camping signs. 

You must register at the ranger station on the western end of the road, shortly past the entrance to the Russell Pond campground. Rates are a flat rate set per car and per weekends or weekday period. In other words, you pay one rate for 1-5 weekdays ($20 in 2019) and another fee for a weekend($25-30 - holidays). It’s self service most of the time, with the ranger available Friday and Saturday evenings. 

The sites vary from sites near and level with the road to ones set above or well below the road. Some are near a river, most are wooded. Some are isolated, others are close together. There are no reservations, so you'll be choosing your own when you arrive. Downhill sites closest to the Russell Pond area seem to be most popular. Most of these were occupied on a late June weekend, while those farther down the road remained empty.

There are port-a-potties near the western entrance, but otherwise you’re on your own with cat holes or portable toilet solutions. Nearest showers are at Russell Pond. Please keep it clean and protect the area. I’ve passed through several times while hiking My Osceola and have observed that these sites are often filled with groups or families with multiple tents. On a late June weekend there are numerous empty sites, so they seem to be more available than the dispersed sites along Gale River Rd and Haystack Rd (farther north in Twin Mountain). Excessive drinking and noise can be an issue. 

You need to be aware that bears are in the area. Following the July 4, 2019 holiday, the camping area was closed after bears visited campsites and got into food that was left in the open and not secured in vehicles or bear canisters. The camping area re-opened July 19, but check the White Mountain National Forest FB page before heading up there. If the issue recurs, I wouldn't be surprised if they close it again.

Hiking in the region include the Osceolas (moderate hike with beautiful views, exceedingly popular and crowded on autumn weekends - get there early!), Tripyramid, and Tecumseh. Shorter treks include Welch-Dickey (great open ledges) and Snow's Mountain (along a river with falls). Nearby Russell Pond offers ranger programs, fishing, and you can put a kayak or canoe in. The Pemigewassett offers tubing and kayaking put ins. Outfitters one exit south can provide you with transportation and rentals. Exit 32 for Lincoln, Woodstock, and the Kanc is less than 5 miles north.

Cell service is decent at nearby Russell Pond (Verizon seemed to offer better service than AT&T).

Campground at beginning of saco river in mountains

Grest spot for some river fun and relaxing. Very central to white mountain region. Fun for all ages. Tubing, swimming, playing in the river that runs along the campground.

Nice Area

The new owner is friendly. The location is beautiful. Limited cell service in the area. WiFi at the store only. Camp store is well supplied. Multiple shower/bathhouse/restroom buildings but the one near our site was small and not well lit. Shower stalls could to be longer to allow for dressing after shower. Shower use is $.25 for 5 or 6 minutes, which is fine because the nightly site fees are reasonable. Our site was on the river which was scenic and nice to listen to. River is rocky and shallow, not good for tubing, swimming, etc., we were also very close to the road, which was fine most nights but there was a lot of late Saturday night traffic that was noisy.

Not for tenting

Before staying at this campground, consider the following: 

1. The campsite is directly on route 302, the traffic noise, particularly the long-haul trucks, is constant and makes it impossible to sleep(you are that close to the road and there is no woods, trees or sound a barrier of any kind, to absorb the sound) 

2. There are no woods, no place to collect kindling, no way to start a campfire 

3. Campfire grates are available, for rent 

4. The sites are separated by a single thin line of trees, so minimal privacy 

5. The campsite ground is uneven 

6. The sites are not raked, so there are small rocks and pebbles everywhere 

7. There are street lights on route 302 directly across the road from the campground, so it never gets totally dark 

7. You may feel like you are tenting at a truck stop rather than camping at a campground 

We reserved site R04 and when we arrived realized it was too small for three adults, two tents, and two dogs, so we rented R05 upon when we arrived. We left the next morning because of the noise and lack of"camping atmosphere." When we talked with the woman in charge, and said we would be leaving, she said"sorry". When i asked if she could compensate us, even for one of the six nights, she said"sorry you already checked in." I could have had a better experience camping in my background. However, we were lucky enough to get a campsite at Lost River Campground in Woodstock, NH. A beautiful, peaceful, campground, that cares about is guests and their overall experience.

Dispersed roadside camping near Twin Mountain Trailhead & Franconia Notch

If you can't snag a site along Gale River Rd or you are looking to hike the Twin Mountains, then continue a little farther north on US 3 near Twin Mountain (a little north of the Beaver Brook Picnic Area) and try your luck on Haystack Rd. This road is closed in winter and will open in late spring after the road has dried out and any repairs have been made. In 2019, it opened in mid-June. Check the the White Mountain National Forest FB page or website (FB is usually more up-to-date) for road status, including closures in the autumn.

When open, you can drive in to one of 11 numbered, wooded sites and camp up to 14 nights for free. You may have up to 3 vehicles and 15 people on a site. The only amenity is a fire pit, but the road ends at the Little River, offering fishing and swimming options. The parking lot at the end of Haystack Rd serves as the Twin Mountain trail head. You may see moose or bears in the area.

Franconia Notch State Park is just south of here, with its hikes, recreation trail, echo lake, and the Flume. Head east on 302 and you'll find yourself in Crawford Notch State Park with waterfalls and hikes.

Forgot something? Fosters Corners just a few miles north has an eclectic selection of essentials as well as gas. Or take I-93 north to Littleton to a wider variety of shops.

Great family campground!!

Been going here for years ! Quiet friendly campground. With river access, clean bathrooms, showers Has a playground for kids. Swimming pool Always having crafts for children Very friendly staff.

Lovely campsite but poor service

Pulled up and the woman at the gatehouse was on the phone with a lady trying to make a reservation. The lady didn't acknowledge ua at all for about 5 mins! We sat there for about 15-20 mins before we were helped. She ended up putting the lady on speakerphone so she could input her information easier. The lady gave her name, address, phone number, and credit card number to her as we sat there and could hear everything! It blew my mind! If I was that lady I would not want to share that info via speakerphone! We got a great campsite though, right on the water. Not very busy there. We rented a canoe for halfday $30 for 4hrs. We ended up returning it early because we paddled the whole lake in about an hour and a half, and we weren't trying to. Thought the boat rental was a bit pricey for the size of the lake/places to explore. We also looked forward to going up to Owl's Head for sunset. We went up during the day and decided it would be beautiful at sunset so we planned to come back. We came back nearly an hour before sunset and found the gate was locked at the bottom of the drive. The signs said it was open until dusk, but apparently someone didn't know what dusk meant. Very disappointed!!! If you want to go to Owl's Head for sunset plan to hike up from the campground because you won't be able to drive up to the parking lot anytime close to sunset.

Good find

Got here late in the day on a Saturday and we're concerned we might not find a site. But we found several nice sites here. Some were very spacious, others you had to walk in. Nice campground. Hiking trail just down the road was a nice surprise too.

Tentsites with water from a spring and compost toilets

The Valley Way trail is a direct and easy route to the Madison Spring Hut, but if you don't have reservations or the money for a reservation, the Valley Way Tentsite may be a suitable alternative. Fallsway is a trail that runs parallel to the lower part of Valley Way and the brook, giving you a great view of small falls. 

3.1 miles from the Appalachia Trailhead you'll see a sign marking the spur path to the tentsite. There's a brief uphill and then you'll pass a spring on the left, a bearline, and then the tentsites and composting toilet. The map at the tentsite mentioned 6 sites, but I could only locate 2 tent pads and 1 fire pit; now that I'm home, I see the website also only mentions 2. I had friends waiting, so I didn't do a detailed search.

It's a quiet, sheltered spot below the treeline. It's your only tenting opportunity in the area.