Mt. Hale during the summer can be accessed by a trail head off Zealand Road for the Hale Brook Trail. It makes for a quick hike up 2.3 miles, down 2.3 miles. I did it in June a couple years ago and its steep, but fast. In the winter, Zealand Road is closed to traffic and becomes a snowmobile super highway! Another route becomes popular in the winter, an unofficial unmarked trail off the North Twin Trail. In the winter, there is an area to park at the end of Little River Road in Bethelehem and you take a herd path for a mile to the North Twin Trail for about a mile before you come to “the mightiest tree in the middle of the trail”. Its actually a small tree but the trail is so nice and tracked out right now, we didn’t have to search for it. Someone did knife a blaze into the little tree which is nooooo good, but in any case, it was easy to find.
Turning left at the tree takes you up the old Mt. Hale Trail, aka the Firewarden’s Trail. It is more gradual than the trail on the other side of the mountain, but takes longer at 4.7 miles. There are some switchbacks on the trail through these beautiful birch glades. I got a good picture of Mizpah in the glades. A group of backcountry skiers were on the trail too to ski through the glades which looked a bit scary, but fun. There was probably 4-6″ of new snow on the trails, so we used snowshoes the whole time to preserve and maintain the tracks.
There was a nice view area on the trail but no views with the cloud cover. The summit of Mt. Hale is wide and flat without views. There is a very large stone cairn that was barely showing above the snow, and of course the remnants of the fire tower were buried too. The fire tower on Mt. Hale was built in 1929 and removed in 1972. To see pics, head here. I wish I could have seen the tower when it was in use because the little cab on the top is unique.
The fire warden’s trail is used in the summer because even though its a longer trail, it is more gradual. Its not as easy to follow though I am assuming in the summer when there aren’t snowshoe tracks. In the summer you can park right at the North Twin Trail head too so you can cut off that one mile herd path. It was a really nice day, over freezing and no wind, so I was nice and warm. I wish there were views, but there is always next time. Mizpah was great, got to hang with a golden retriever up on the summit. I hadn’t hiked since my birthday, so I definitely felt out of shape, but it was such a nice gradual hike, I lived through it haha.