Anyone who has laced up their hiking boots in this corner of the country knows that there's a charm to this region unlike anything else out there. Small towns, rich history, welcoming communities, miles and miles of trails, and some incredibly beautiful seasons make this region a hiker's haven in the truest sense. From the peaks of the Green Mountains and the Presidential Range to the rugged coast and many pristine state parks scattered throughout, I believe that New England should be on every outdoor enthusiast's to-do list, especially for those with an affinity for exploring nature by foot.
As a kid growing up in Vermont with an addiction for skiing, hiking was originally a way to explore my favorite ski slopes once the snow melted, so you'll notice that most of my hiking picks below are close to or even within resort boundaries. Hiking quickly blossomed into a passion that's followed me wherever I go, but I will never forget those first family hikes up to Camels Hump every spring or trekking up Mad River Glen and Mount Ellen every fall for some unparalleled leaf-peeping adventures with friends.
Here are 10 of my favorite hikes in New England. Happy trails, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! If you need me, you know where I'll be.
At 4,081 feet, Camels Hump is the third highest peak in Vermont and one of the most recognizable due to its shape and proximity to both Burlington and Montpelier. This 6.8-mile round-trip hike gains 2,583 feet of elevation and is quite steep in places, so be ready for a scramble.
At 4,393 feet, Mount Mansfield is the highest point in the Green Mountains and Vermont, and it is home to Stowe Mountain Resort and local-favorite Smuggler's Notch. The Sunset Ridge Trail is a 3-mile exposed route to the peak with incredible views of the surrounding valleys that reach all the way to Burlington, Lake Champlain, and New York.
Mount Ellen, home to Sugarbush Ski Resort, is one of only five peaks in Vermont to surpass 4,000 feet in elevation. Near its summit, great views can be had of the Green Mountains, Mad River Valley, Lake Champlain, and New York’s Adirondack mountains.
Standing at 3,168 feet, Burnt Rock Mountain is a smaller but beautiful peak in the Green Mountains just south of the more prominent Camels Hump. The trail offers a little bit of everything, from stream and small brook crossings and steep rocky climbs with wooden stairs to granite scrambles and grand vistas in all directions.
Artists Bluff is a moderate, beginner and family-friendly hike in Franconia Notch State Park that rewards hikers with a gorgeous view. There are a few options for hiking here, including an out-and-back hike to either Artists Bluff or to Bald Mountain, or a loop to do both.
Mount Major rises up on the south side of Lake Winnipesaukee and is part of the Belknap Range. This is a popular hike for families and beginners, though some will still find it to be a moderately strenuous hike due to some steep grades.
Cadillac is the tallest mountain in the Acadia region, and it is one of the first places in the United States to receive light during the sunrise. It's a beautiful hike in Acadia National Park that gives you great views of both rolling hillsides and the harbor.
Looking for the best hike in the Northeast U.S.? Look no further than Katahdin, the roof of Maine. Tree line is reached quickly, and all trails leading to its seemingly endless summit ridge and plateau are great. This classic loop takes you to Baxter Peak (5,267 feet) and Hamlin Peak (4,756 feet) via the scenic Knife Edge and Hamlin Ridge Trails.
Mount Wachusett is the highest peak in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River and a well loved hiking spot for those nearby. From the summit you can see Monadnock to the north, Boston to the east, and Mount Greylock to the west.
The Orange Vista Trail is an approximately 2-mile trail loop of moderate difficulty that gives visitors a great introduction to the park and a fantastic valley vista lookout to the south. It is a popular hiking destination for visitors throughout the year, and it offers a variety of trail options for all levels of experience.
The 10 hikes above are just a sampling of the adventures to be found throughout New England. Although these are a great starting point, I highly recommend taking a look at the full array of hikes in each of New England's states to get a full taste of what this region offers:
Each month, Eddie Bauer's panel of judges will select 25 semifinalists who will receive a $100 Eddie Bauer gift card and be entered into the competition to win the grand prize.
At the end of the contest period, one grand prize winner will choose between a trip to Kauai, Yosemite or Whistler, BC, for an all-expenses paid hiking adventure of a lifetime. Read the full details and rules here.