But a path from outpost to outpost should skirt the Zone, not penetrate it.
And LaForge's original comment about Picard's secretive orders doesn't mean the ship would actually be plunging into
the Zone. After all, Picard only gives a direction, not a destination. So of course maintaining that course would take them into the Zone, through the Romulan Star Empire, and out from the other side, but they halt long before that.