Hiking on the East Coast means spending a lot of time with your head down, but it’s not for a lack of things to look at. The rocky trails can be difficult to navigate, but if you keep your head up there’s a whole lot to see. New England is home to one of the most remarkable sections of the Appalachian Trail, as well as Vermont’s Long Trail and the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire.
New England trails are notorious for scenic lookouts and side-country destinations just off the beaten path. Keep your plans loose and your eyes open, and when you stumble upon a detour, take it. Here are a few of the best hikes in New England and some secret spots that you just might miss if you don’t look up.
Maine is known for it’s rocky coastline, but it’s also home to some of the best hikes in the Northeast. Being both the highest peak in Maine as well as the Northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Katahdin is a must-see. There are many routes to the top, but if you’re looking for some adrenaline, take the Knife Edge trail. As the trail winds closer to the top, one third of a mile lands you on a three-foot-wide section, complete with breathtaking drops on either side.
A little further down the AT you’ll find Little Bigelow mountain in the Bigelow Preserve. This area of Maine is secluded and beautiful, with views of Flagstaff Lake to the North and Sugarloaf Ski Area to the South. You’re sure to be far removed from any large groups of people, and you just might see a moose or a bald eagle.
New Hampshire is home to the White Mountains, and New England’s largest peak—Mt. Washington, but there are certainly some gems in the southern part of the state as well. Just a quick drive over the Massachusetts border gets you to Mt. Monadnock. It can definitely be crowded on sunny summer days, but the hike includes a fresh mountain spring and a bouldering dreamland at the top.
If you’re up North, don’t miss Camel’s Hump, one of the most notable looking peaks in the East. You’ll be treated to views of Lake Champlain to the West, and Mt. Mansfield to the East.
If you’re further South, check out Mt. Ascutney. It’s an easy detour from the interstate, and you’ll find a number of treats off the side of any of the trails. The Weathersfield Trail is a goldmine, with a mandatory stop at Cascade Falls – a beautiful waterfall and lookout with views of the Green Mountain State.
by Kate Maciejowks