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8 Hikes in New England You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

When you think of trekking in the U.S., your mind likely goes west — to the Rockies, the Sierras, the Pacific Northwest. But, there’s more to discover on the East Coast. Here are the best hikes in New England.

Mount Frissell, Conn.; (photo/Will Hatton)
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What if I told you there’s an entire collection of picturesque trails that the rest of the country (and the world) have likely never hiked, or even heard of?

Allow me to introduce you to New England. You probably won’t be setting any elevation records out here, but you’ll find yourself overlooking scenic vistas and explosions of colors on trails that hardly see much traffic. With varied terrain across the region, you’ll find everything from lackadaisical strolls to strenuous climbs to the top of humble peaks.

To get your East Coast hiking trip going, here are eight incredible New England hikes that are off the beaten path — or at least, off people’s radar. Chances are, you’ll have most (if not all) of the trail to yourself.

Hiking Trails in New England

1. Mount Frissell, Connecticut (to Massachusetts)

(Photo/The Broke Backpacker)

Located in Connecticut’s scenic Litchfield County, this might just be one of the most underrated hikes in New England. The epic 5-mile trail starts out with a few solid inclines through a leafy forest before leveling out. The loop-style hike gives you the chance to conquer more than one summit — Brace Mountain is en route to Frissell and is yours for the taking.

The really cool thing about this hike is that it takes you to the very highest point in all of Connecticut at 2,380 feet. The point isn’t exactly the visual highlight of the day. But it’s a sweet spot right on the border with Massachusetts. In fact, the summit of Mount Frissell itself is in Mass.

The trailhead begins on a tree-lined road in the small town of Salisbury. You’ll also see some signs in the area pointing out Bear Mountain, which is the highest summit in Connecticut and something that can be added to the end of your journey.

  • Location: Near Salisbury, Conn.
  • Distance: 5 mi.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 1,059 ft.

2. Mount Washington, New Hampshire

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Perhaps the most fantastic hiking trail on this list is the challenging Mt. Washington in the famous White Mountains of New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet, Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. and a beast of a climb.

Despite being relatively small from a global perspective, don’t take this hike lightly. Mt. Washington experiences some of the most chaotic weather on the planet. Having recorded the highest summit wind speeds ever (231 mph), it’s widely revered as the most dangerous small mountain in the world.

That means you’ll want to have a good handle on the weather forecast before you head up. And be prepared for a brutal ascent. You’re looking at 4,727 feet of elevation gain in under 10 miles — and this is a day hike!

  • Location: Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Pinkham Notch, N.H.
  • Distance: 8.4 mi.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 4,727 ft.

3. Mount Tremont, New Hampshire

(Photo/The Broke Backpacker)

This little-known New England hike can be found in New Hampshire’s tantalizing White Mountains and has somehow managed to stay off of most tourists’ radar. 

The hike will take you up to the 3,371-foot summit of Mt. Tremont, where you’ll get to bask in the beauty of multiple Northeastern peaks. The elevation gain is something serious with this trail. But, the terrain consists of dense forest (ideal sun protection) and follows a brook for the first mile or so.

Though moderately difficult, technical climbing skills are not required to give Tremont a go. Expect the route to take around 3 hours to reach the top and around 2 hours to head back down. 

  • Location: White Mountain National Forest, N.H.
  • Distance: 5.6 mi.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 2,600 ft.

4. Precipice Trail, Maine

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Acadia National Park is home to some of the USA’s most glorious coastal scenery. While there are perhaps too many trails to tackle in just one trip, you can’t go wrong with Precipice, one of the park’s (and the region’s) most dangerous and thrilling hikes.

Climbing skills and some experience are legitimate prerequisites, as you’ll have to scramble across scree, climb on all fours, and maneuver through metal rungs and ladders to reach the top. This gets incredibly dangerous when it rains, so go when it’s dry out.

The route is so steep that the National Park Service encourages hikers to take a different trail down. The North Ridge route is the most leisurely after the intrepid 1,000-foot elevation gain of Precipice.

  • Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Distance: 2.5-mi. loop
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 1,060 ft.

5. Artist Bluff Trail, New Hampshire

(Photo via Shutterstock)

If you really want some awe-inspiring views without a marathon-style hike, look no further than Maine’s Artist Bluff Trail. Known for being one of the best fall hikes in New England, you’ll get to feast your eyes (and cameras) on an array of forested trees surrounding the majestic Lake Cannon.

The 1.5-mile loop sits in New Hampshire’s Franconia Bluff State Park and can be completed in an hour — not including time spent savoring the scenes from the summit. Early October is the ideal time to see the colors at their peak

  • Location: Franconia Bluff State Park, N.H.
  • Distance: 1.5 mi.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 400 ft.

6. Mount Mansfield, Vermont

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Vermont’s tallest mountain, Mt. Mansfield is yet another opportunity to bag a peak in New England. At 4,393 feet, it doesn’t come close to what you’ll find out west, but it will still be a proper adventure nonetheless.

The Sunset Ridge Trail is the most well-trodden way to the top, with the Laura Cowles Route coming in close behind. While the Laura Cowles trail is shorter, it’s also notably steeper. But, it’s a better choice if you prefer forest cover and protection from wind and sun.

Like most of the top hikes in New England, you’ll need to be prepared to make the ~7-mile round trip in a single day.

  • Location: Near Stowe, Vt.
  • Distance: 6-7-mi. loop
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 2,600 ft.

7. Bash Bish Falls, Massachusetts

(Photo via Shutterstock)

This 2-mile trail is another easy hike that’s doable by just about anyone and leads to Massachusetts’ highest waterfall. Numerous cascades of flowing water settle into an emerald pool that looks like something far, far away from New England.

Unfortunately, swimming is banned for safety reasons, but fall is the best time to give this trail a try anyway. Peak fall foliage hits Massachusetts (and the rest of New England) sometime in early to mid-October, which turns this wooded walk into a kaleidoscope of colors.

  • Location: Bash Bish Falls State Park, Mass.
  • Distance: 2.1 mi.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 300 ft.

8. Caleb’s Peak, Connecticut

(Photo/The Broke Backpacker)

Situated in the hills of idyllic Kent, Conn., the route turns out to be just under 9 miles and starts with a pretty steep and rocky incline shrouded beneath trees. This is a trail that really picks up in the second half, after the iconic lookout.

A few sections are a borderline scramble, but anyone with moderate fitness should be able to do it. Be aware: there aren’t many amenities nearby, so make sure your packing list is stocked with some solid snacks.

Location: Kent, Conn.
Distance: 8.8 mi.
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 2,680 ft.

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