22 Best Hikes in New England: Mountain Hikes, Backpacking + More

by Global Viewpoint
Best Hikes in New England featured image

From epic mountain peaks to coastal trails, New England is home to countless jaw-dropping hikes that you need to see to believe. The best hikes in New England cover all types of landscapes, so bring a water, some good shoes, and perhaps even a bike to do some exploring.

In this slice of the US, there’s a hiking trail for everyone. For most of us, day hiking is the go-to, but there are plenty of overnight hikes and backpacking options as well. It’s easy to feel an intimate connection with nature as you’re trekking through the beautiful landscapes of the northeast. This is especially true during the autumn months when the trees are ablaze in fall colors.

Even beyond the fall, few places in the US are more alluring to hikers and photographers than New England. In the same day, you can explore rugged, windswept coastlines and hike dramatic mountains — passing by lakes, streams, and waterfalls in between. The region is fairly compact, so you’ll never have to drive far to find an amazing hike in New England.

Looking for a cool hiking trail to explore in the spring, summer, or fall? I’ve reached out to some talented photographers and local guides who have been there and know the best hikes around. Together, we’ve created this list of the 22 best hikes in New England for all types of hikers and skill levels. Happy hiking!

Best hikes in New England pinterest photo
Disclosure: Due to COVID-19, there may be restrictions in certain areas, including state restrictions, limited park capacity, reservations prior to arrival, etc. Before booking any travels, be sure to follow relevant government guidance and safety protocols. And of course, be sure to practice social distancing!

Map of the best hikes in New England

Mount Cardigan (Holt Trail)

Where: Cardigan Mountain State Park, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 4.4 miles / 7 km

Duration: 4 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Mt. Cardigan Holt Trail Summit
Mount Cardigan from Cardigan South Peak. | Photo credit: Chris Calabrese

Chris Calabrese (@lives4summits) is a hiking pro from New Britain, Connecticut who’s seen a good trail or two. And by two, I mean all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 footers. In fact, Chris has hiked the 100 highest peaks in New England. Super impressive! Here, he shares one of his recent hikes to Mount Cardigan:

“On July 5th, 2020, I hiked Mount Cardigan in west-central New Hampshire from the extremely difficult Holt Trail – straight out of the ravine from AMC Cardigan Lodge. This trail is full of many exposed scrambles where you must use your hands to pull yourself up in places, and is considered among the most challenging in New England. I’ve been exploring some of the less popular trails and subpeaks, and this day was no different. I also bagged Cardigan South Summit, Rimrock, and Orange Mountain via the South Ridge, Skyland, and Vistamont Trails. Cardigan is one of my favorite peaks on the New Hampshire 52 With a View list, which includes many other mountains with gorgeous views.” – Chris Calabrese

Chris is currently working on the Terrifying 25, a list of challenging White Mountains hiking trails. I’m curious to see which best hiking spots in New England he’ll add to this list later on.

If you’re not an experienced hiker and wish to climb a more manageable trail (i.e. one that doesn’t gain 1,000+ feet in less than a mile), check out the West Ridge Trail on Mount Cardigan.

Follow Chris’s adventures on Instagram!

Mount Cardigan Holt Trail New Hampshire
Orange Mountain from Rimrock, the first summit on the trail. | Photo credit: Chris Calabrese

Artist Bluff Trail

Where: Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 1.5 miles / 2.4 km

Duration: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy/moderate (short, but some steep parts)

Emily Thomas (@emitoms) is a Seattle-based travel photographer. She visited New England last fall during the peak foliage season and took some incredible photos. Artist Bluff Trail was her favorite hike and it’s easy to see why.

Artist Bluff New Hampshire hike
Artist Bluff and the fall colors. | Photo credit: Emily Thomas

Just a short distance from Franconia Notch, Artist Bluff offers stunning views with minimal effort. From the top, you’ll have sweeping views of Echo Lake and Cannon Mountain. Make the climb an hour before sunset and you’ll be treated with breathtaking vistas, which are especially mesmerizing in the fall when the leaves change color.

With a high ROI, Artist Bluff Trail is easily one of the best hikes in New England.

Follow Emily’s adventures on Instagram!

Dune Shacks Trail

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts

Total Distance: 2.4 miles / 3.9 km

Duration: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate (a few steep dunes; trekking through sand can be tough)

Dune Shacks Trail
Dune Shacks Trail | Photo credit: Dave Long

Dave Long (@davidlong3653) is a landscape and travel photographer from New England. One of his favorite hikes in the northeast is Dune Shacks Trail (also known as Sand Dune Trail) in Provincetown, Massachusetts. This trail is located near the very tip of Cape Cod. Here’s why he loves it:

“This 2.4 mile roundtrip hike rises immediately from Route 6 into another world of giant dunes and solitude. The end goal and in sight most of the way is the Atlantic Ocean and the collection of historic dune shacks. Experience the Cape Cod you have in your mind with this extraordinary hike.”— Dave Long

Interestingly, sand dunes cover around 1/3 of the Cape Cod National Seashore, but these hills of sand in Provincetown are the crown jewel.

Follow Dave on Instagram and his photography site!

Dune Shacks Trail Provincetown MA
Historic dune shacks are sprawled throughout the hike. | Photo credit: Dave Long

Read next: The most unique Airbnbs in Cape Cod

Mount Katahdin (Knife Edge Trail)

Where: Baxter State Park, Maine

Total Distance: 1.1 miles / 1.77 km (7-8 miles with connecting trails)

Duration: 1-2 hours (5-8 hours with connecting trails)

Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous (steep and rugged; narrow parts with a sharp drop off)

Mt Katahdin in Maine
The “Tableland” leads up to the summit. | Photo credit: Danielle Dorrie

Danielle Dorrie is the co-founder of Love Maine Adventures, a community of explorers who are passionate about Maine and the outdoors. She shares some photos of Mt. Katahdin (5,269 ft. / 1,606 m), Maine’s highest peak. There are several trails to get to the top, but she recommends Knife Edge Trail as the most bucket-list worthy. Here are some interesting tidbits about Mount Katahdin and the Knife Edge Trail:

“Katahdin is a remote mountain in a protected state park in Maine – you need a pass to access it and entry passes are limited! It rises 5,269 feet above sea level and offers varied terrain – none of which is flat! It’s a “bucket list” item for Mainers and hikers alike. Many New Englanders choose to finish their “NE67” hiking list on top of Katahdin. For the brave, we recommend the Knife’s Edge trail – but it’s not for the faint of heart!” – Danielle Dorrie

While a beautiful and rewarding hike, it can be dangerous for the average hiker. Proper gear and experience are required, and the trail shouldn’t be climbed during rain and/or high winds. It’s super narrow and steep – they don’t call it “knife edge” for nothing!

If you’re an adventure seeker, you’ll find that Mount Katahdin is among the best mountains to hike in New England.

Follow Danielle’s adventures across Maine: Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube!

Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine
Views from the summit. | Photo credit: Danielle Dorrie

Mount Monadnock (White Dot & White Cross Trails)

Where: Monadnock State Park, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 3.7 miles / 6 km

Duration: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate (steep and rocky in some places)

Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire
Mt. Monadnock is among the best hikes in New England. | Photo credit: Drue Marino

Drue Marino (@druemarino) is a Connecticut-based photographer who captures epic landscapes around New England. He recently climbed Mount Monadnock (3,165 ft. / 964 m) in southern New Hampshire and shares his incredible experience here:

“Starting the ascent from the dense New Hampshire forests, you see and hear nothing but trees and wildlife. Suddenly you get to a point where the trees taper off, revealing the summit of Monadnock. The next 30 minutes is nothing but surreal views of the surrounding mountain range and wildlife, rewarding you with the best view of lower New Hampshire.” – Drue Marino

Some readers from outside of New England will look at a peak like this and say“it isn’t even that tall!” But I assure you, what New England mountains lack in height, they make up for in raw beauty and precious scenery.

Follow Drue on Instagram and Twitter!

Mount Monadnock is one of the best hikes in New England
Mount Monadnock | Photo credit: Drue Marino

Camel’s Hump (Burrows Trail)

Where: Camel’s Hump State Park, Vermont

Total Distance: 4.4 miles / 7 km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Camel's Hump in Vermont.
Camel’s Hump in Vermont at sunrise | Photo credit: Sammy Yang

Sammy Yang (@sammydepthphotography) is a photographer based in Burlington, VT. He has a burning desire for all things nature and believes that the best photos are snapped in the least expected moments. Sammy decided to hike Camel’s Hump (4,083 ft. / 1,244 m) just in time for sunrise. Here’s what makes the hike to the top so special:

“Taking the Burrows Trail (one of the most popular) for 2 miles and another 0.3 of scramble takes you to one of the best picturesque spots Vermont has to offer. The trail offers a plethora of flora and fauna as well as streams and falls. Sunlight splatters through the pine and birchwood, coating the hike with a fine layer of gold. If you do it as a sunrise hike, you’re in for a treat!” – Sammy Yang

Camel’s Hump is one of the best hikes in the Green Mountains and the third highest peak in Vermont. As you can imagine, it’s also among the best fall foliage hikes in New England.

Follow Sammy on Instagram and his website!

Camel's Hump is a great sunrise hike
Camel’s Hump is one of the top hikes in VT | Photo credit: Sammy Yang

Mount Moosilauke

Where: White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 7.2 miles / 11.5 km

Duration: 5 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Mt. Moosilauke in NH
Photo credit: Michael Moran

Looking for the best scenic hikes in New England? This one has got you covered.

Nothing says New England adventure like the White Mountains. This mountain range in New Hampshire is home to many of the best mountains to hike in New England, and it’s truly a must-see on a New England road trip itinerary.

Michael Moran (@trailrunnah) is an ultrarunner from Massachusetts who’s always trailblazing. He recently climbed Mount Moosilauke (4,802 ft. / 1,464 m) in the White Mountains and here’s what he had to say about it:

“Mount Moosilauke, in the White Mountain National Forest, is one of the most accessible and beautiful hikes in the area. The ascent up the Gorge Brook Trail offers trickling streams dotted with scrubby pine trees. Near the summit, the trail skirts the side of the mountain with waist high brush, open to a panoramic view all the way to the summit. The grassy alpine meadow at the summit, and the final tenth of a mile are a special treat after such a short hike to the top. On the way down the Glencliff Trail, make sure to take the short spur to South Peak, which has an equally spectacular view.” – Michael Moran

Interestingly, New Hampshire is home to the highest peaks in New England. To put it in perspective, Mount Moosilauke (4,802 ft.) is the tenth highest mountain in NH, yet if it were in Vermont, it would be the highest in the state (Mt. Mansfield is the highest at 4,393 ft). Here’s a list of all the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire.

If you’re looking for the best hiking spots in New England, this is it!

Follow Michael on Instagram and his blog!

Mount Moosilauke White Mountains
Photo credit: Michael Moran

Cadillac North Ridge Trail

Where: Acadia National Park, Maine

Total Distance: 4 miles / 6.4 km

Duration: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park, Maine
Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain – Acadia National Park, Maine

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you probably know that I’m obsessed with Acadia National Park (posting about it several times on Insta and TikTok). It should come as no surprise then that I decided to include it in this article of the best hikes in New England.

Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard and the first place in the US where you can catch the sunrise (for part of the year). With panoramic views of the ocean and lakes on Mount Desert Island, the Cadillac North Ridge Trail to the summit is similarly worthy of a superlative. Take in the unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean amid a sea of clouds (and a field of wildflowers), and you’ll see why this is one of the best hikes that Maine has to offer.

Brave the sunrise (~4:50am in the summer) and you’ll be in for a treat. If you’re not an early bird, don’t fret — Cadillac Mountain sunsets are also spectacular. In addition to hiking, you can also drive up to the summit, but that parking lot is typically jam-packed over the summer.

Beyond the Cadillac North Ridge Trail, I recommend these other hikes in Acadia National Park:

– Jordan Pond Full Look Trail (3.5 miles)

– The Beehive Loop Trail (1.4 miles)

– Ocean Path Trail: Thunder Hole and Monument Cove (4.5 miles)

– South Bubble Mountain (1.4 miles)

Whether you’re seeking adrenaline or relaxation tucked away in nature, Acadia has got you covered.

Mount Willard Trail

Where: Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 3.2 miles / 5.15 km

Duration: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Willard in New Hampshire
Mt. Willard overlooking Crawford Notch. | Photo credit: Taylor Gibbons

Some of the top hikes in New England are more beautiful than others, and this has to be one of the best!

Taylor Gibbons (@tellhergib) has traveled all over, hiking through epic places like Zion National Park, Mt. Rainier, and Colorado Springs to name a few. Most recently, her travels brought her to the White Mountains where she hiked Mount Willard (2,865 ft. / 873 m). Here’s what her experience looked like:

Mt. Willard was a clear choice for our first hike in the Whites. At 6am, we found ourselves in a half-filled lot, crossing train tracks into the forest. A tree came about, touting a ‘1.6 miles to the summit’ sign. These 1.6 miles were filled with pools, creeks, a formidable ascent, and a few trail pups. As the summit came about, we were treated with views of the green white mountains, Crawford Notch road, and alpine territory. Solitude at Mt. Willard summit invites you to lay back and watch the clouds roll by, all before breakfast.” – Taylor Gibbons

Mount Willard is the perfect introduction to the White Mountains, as it’s short and sweet, yet provides a hodgepodge of natural treasures. It overlooks Crawford Notch, which is cradled between Mt. Willey (4,284 ft) and Mt. Webster (3,910 ft).

If you’re looking to do a weekend getaway in the White Mountains, be sure to stop here first! You’ll quickly see why this is one of the most beautiful hiking spots in New England.

Follow Taylor’s adventures on Instagram!

Mt. Willard is among the best hikes in New England.
Mt. Willard Trail is one of the best hikes in New England. | Photo credit: Taylor Gibbons

Talcott Mountain Trail

Where: Talcott Mountain State Park, Connecticut

Total Distance: 2.5 miles / 4 km

Duration: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Talcott Mountain Trail
Talcott Mountain State Park | Photo credit: Colin Ahern

Colin Ahern (@colinahernphotography) is a Connecticut-based photographer with a keen eye for unique landscapes and hidden gems. He recently hiked the Talcott Mountain Trail in Simsbury, CT, a loop leading up to Heublein Tower. Here’s why Colin thinks it deserves a spot among the best hikes in New England:

“Talcott Mountain State Park is enjoyed by thousands of hikers each year, thanks to its incredible views of the surrounding landscape. Talcott Mountain holds a commanding place in the Connecticut countryside, rising 950 feet above the flood plains and farmland of the Farmington River and Connecticut River valleys. The park is home to one of the most iconic and interesting pieces of architecture in the state, Heublein Tower, modeled after the towers of Bavaria. The trail is under 1.5 miles long with a steep ascent in the beginning. Hikers are rewarded at the top with a cliffside trail that leads to the tower. From the 360 degree observation deck, you can see the skylines of Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA on a clear day.” – Colin Ahern

Though it’s not particularly high or strenuous, Talcott Mountain is definitely one of the best mountains to hike in New England.

To see the Talcott Mountain at its peak, be sure to visit during the fall foliage season!

Follow Colin on Instagram and his website!

Talcott Mountain in Connecticut is among the best hikes in New England.
Heublein Tower | Photo credit: Colin Ahern

The Freedom Trail

Where: Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts

Total Distance: 2.5 miles / 4 km (one-way)

Duration: 1.5 hours (up to a full day if you stop at all the sites)

Difficulty: Easy

The Freedom Trail in Boston is one of the top hikes in New England.
Freedom Trail – Boston, MA | Photo credit: Liam Noonan

The Freedom Trail isn’t your typical “hike” in a mountain/nature sense, but it’s definitely worth mentioning as one of the best sightseeing trails in New England. You can stroll here anytime of year, so it’s also considered one of the best winter hikes in New England.

Liam Noonan (@lfnoonan) is a Boston-based photographer with a knack for cityscape, landscape, and portrait photography. You’ll often catch him roaming around Boston, camera in hand, capturing the best sites the city has to offer. Here’s why he thinks you should check out the Freedom Trail:

“Follow the red brick road. Boston’s Freedom Trail provides visitors and locals with a scenic and educational experience through one of the United States most historic cities. In less than 2.5 miles, the Freedom Trail showcases beautiful parks, churches, meeting houses, museums, burial grounds, monuments, and waterfront, all significant in the history of the American Revolution and the United States.” – Liam Noonan

Extending from Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, the Freedom Trail shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Boston. It’s one of the best day hikes in New England for those wishing to pair scenic views with riveting history.

If you’re thinking about visiting in the near future, refer to the Freedom Trail Foundation website for updated COVID-19 guidance and a list of open historic sites.

Follow Liam on Instagram and his website!

The Freedom Trail in Charlestown
Freedom Trail in Charlestown, MA | Photo credit: Liam Noonan

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Where: Natick, Massachusetts

Total Distance: 9 miles (14.5 km) of trails

Duration: 3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, MA
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary is a picturesque park in Natick, MA | Photo credit: Lindsey Gamble

For a moment, let’s forget about all the amazing mountains to hike in New England. You don’t have to drive far from Boston to find a beautiful nature retreat worth hiking.

Lindsey Gamble (@lindseygamble_) is an outdoor enthusiast with an insatiable appetite for nature. You’ll often find him hiking in the Massachusetts woodlands, photographing the greens, the blues, and the occasional deer. Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary is one of his favorite hikes in the state. Here are some amazing photos from the trails:

Lindsey’s favorite paths inside the sanctuary are the All Persons Trail and Mill Pond/Marsh Trail, each providing an up-close look at the park’s diverse landscapes, including ponds, marshes, streams, and waterfalls. He’s also spotted a variety of wildlife here, including turtles, frogs, beavers, ducks, and snakes.

If you’re looking for a peaceful place to spend a few hours, Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary is it. Not only is it a great place to visit during the spring, summer, and fall, but it’s among the best winter hikes in New England as well!

Follow Lindsey on Instagram and his blog!

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the coolest hikes in New England.
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary is among the best hikes near Boston. | Photo credit: Lindsey Gamble

Mount Major and Brook Trail Loop

Where: Major Mountain State Forest, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 3.7 miles / 6 km

Duration: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Major in New Hampshire is among the best mountains to hike in New England
Views from the top of Mount Major in NH. | Photo credit: Lindsey Lapointe

Lindsey Lapointe (@freelanceadventurer) is a blogger and photographer with a passion for the outdoors. She recommends Mt. Major, a scenic mountain overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, as one of the best hikes in New England. Here’s why:

“Mt. Major rewards it’s hikers with views of hardwood forest, rocky trail, and an amazing summit view. From the top, hikers can see the iconic Lake Winnipesaukee, speckled with islands and surrounded by the mountains of the Sandwich Range.” – Lindsey Lapointe

Mt. Major is a must when you’re visiting the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Not only is it one of the best mountains to hike in New England, it’s also among the coolest hiking spots found anywhere in the northeast. The panoramic views at the top are absolutely stunning, especially during New England’s fall foliage season.

Follow Lindsey on Instagram and her blog!

Mount Eisenhower (Crawford Path)

Where: Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 9.6 miles / 15.5 km

Duration: 6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Mount Eisenhower in New Hampshire
The Crawford Path is one of the best hikes in New England. | Photo credit: Nate Hewes

Nate Hewes (@nate.hewes) is an avid hiker and skier who is happiest in the mountains. One of his favorite mountain hikes in New England is the Crawford Path at Mount Eisenhower (4,760 ft. / 1,450 m):

“Beginning just north of Crawford Notch in the White Mountains, this 9.6 mile route offers an abundance of pristine forest, stunning mountain views, and a waterfall to cool off when your journey is almost complete. For the most eager adventurers, the Crawford Path extends all the way to Mount Washington, the pinnacle of the Northeast, while setting the summit of Mount Eisenhower as a turn-around point offers a more ‘leisurely’ day hike option. On a clear day, the 4,760′ summit offers boundless views of the surrounding national forest.” – Nate Hewes

From the top, you’ll also have sweeping views of the Presidential Range Mountains, including Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe. These are some of the highest peaks in the White Mountains, and the Appalachian Mountains as a whole.

If beautiful mountain views and cascades sound good to you, you’re in for a treat. This is certainly among the best mountain and waterfall hikes in New England.

Follow Nate on Instagram!

Mt. Eisenhower is among the greatest hikes in New England.
Views from Mount Eisenhower. | Photo credit: Nate Hewes

Quechee Gorge Trail

Where: Quechee State Park, Vermont

Total Distance: 2.7 miles / 4.3 km

Duration: 1-1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Kyla Henry (@kylaerynhenry) is a Vermont adventurer who recently visited Quechee Gorge. She shares some breathtaking photos with us from one of the best scenic hikes in New England:

Quechee Gorge in Vermont is among the best hikes in New England.
Quechee Gorge | Photo credit: Kyla Henry

Known as Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon,” this gorgeous gorge is 165 feet (50 m) deep. Unlike most of the other hikes on this list, the best view is at the beginning of the trail. Kyla took these photos from that vantage point on top of a bridge. Hike down to the river if you wish to jump in and go swimming. Otherwise, soak in the great view from the start of the trailhead and you won’t be disappointed!

In addition to hiking, Quechee Gorge hosts a variety of other outdoor activities including canoeing, fishing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.

As a relatively short trail, Quechee Gorge Trail is one of the best day hikes in New England.

Follow Kyla’s adventures on Instagram!

Vermont's Little Grand Canyon
The best view is at the beginning of the trail. | Photo credit: Kyla Henry

Cliff Walk

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Total Distance: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km (out and back)

Duration: 2.5-3 hours

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

The Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island is among the best hiking spots in New England.
The Cliff Walk is one of the top things to see and do in Newport, RI.

Much of this article centers around mountain hikes, but the coastal ones are equally breathtaking. I recently hiked the Cliff Walk during a weekend in Newport, and was blown away by the sweeping views and feeling of serenity at every turn. The Cliff Walk is quite different than the rest, yet it’s still one of the best hikes in New England. Here’s why:

The Breakers Mansion from the Cliff Walk.
The Breakers Mansion as seen from the Cliff Walk.

The Cliff Walk connects Newport’s extravagant mansions with the picturesque waterfront area. You’re basically walking through the backyards of the Gilded Age mansions, dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. These “summer cottages” (as their owners once called them) were built to rival the royal palaces of Europe, decked out with the most elaborate and expensive décor of the time.

From this seaside trail, watch as waves crash against the rocky shores while taking in the fresh sea breeze, and you’ll know why some of America’s wealthy industrialists chose this location for their summer residences.

Roughly 2/3 of the Cliff Walk is flat and easy, but there’s a stretch of rocky (and sometimes, slippery) terrain. So good footwear is recommended!

Definitely carve out at least an afternoon to enjoy the Cliff Walk, one of the best hiking spots in New England.

Thinking about visiting Newport? Check out my Weekend in Newport Travel Guide

The Cliff Walk is one of the top coastal hiking trails in New England.
The Cliff Walk is one of the best coastal trail hikes in New England.

Bingham Falls

Where: Smugglers’ Notch State Park, Vermont

Total Distance: 0.5 miles / 0.8 km

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Looking to chase waterfalls this summer or fall? Look no further than Bingham Falls near Stowe, Vermont. It’s the shortest hike on this list by far, and the ROI is through the roof—making it one of the best short hikes in New England.

Maria Bulgaro (@mariabulgaro) is an outdoor enthusiast who visited Vermont for the first time last summer. She brought her dog along for the adventure, choosing Bingham Falls for the beautiful waterfall and easy access. The swimming hole beneath the falls is deep enough to go cliff jumping, adding to the site’s intrigue. Here are some photos of her (and her dog’s) adventure:

Bingham Falls in Vermont is one of the best hikes in New England.
Bingham Falls is a natural treasure near Stowe, VT. | Photo credit: Maria Bulgaro
Bingham Falls hiking trail.
The hiking trail is also pet-friendly. | Photo credit: Maria Bulgaro

With amazing scenery and an impressive cascade, this is definitely one of the best waterfall hikes in New England.

While you’re in the area, don’t miss Mount Mansfield (4,393 ft. / 1,339 m), Vermont’s tallest mountain. The Sunset Ridge Trail to the summit is 6 miles— definitely worth the struggle (and the scrambles)!

Follow Maria on Instagram!

Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail

Where: Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 5.1 miles / 8.2 km

Duration: 3-4 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Haven’t quenched your thirst for waterfalls yet? Here’s something that requires more effort, but you’ll be happy you did it.

Craig Maxwell (@cmaxwellphotography) is a Boston-based photographer with a broad portfolio of epic shots. He recommends the Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail to avid hikers and photographers:

“Arethusa Falls is a great location for photos, but the icing on the cake is the active railroad tracks cutting through the mountains. It’s a beautiful sight to see the train disappear between the White Mountains and Frankenstein Cliff. This location really comes to life leading up to golden hour, as you can see in the photo below.” – Craig Maxwell

Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail.
One of the top trails in New England. | Photo credit: Craig Maxwell

Between the railroad and the falls, this has to be one of the most scenic hikes in New Hampshire and New England as a whole.

Follow Craig on Instagram and his photography site!

West Rattlesnake Mountain

Where: Holderness, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 3.1 miles / 5 km

Duration: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

West Rattlesnake Mountain.
West Rattlesnake Mountain | Photo credit: Nina Weinstein

Nina Weinstein (@ninaweinsteinphotography) is a New England-based wedding photographer who frequently serves the Lakes Region in New Hampshire. Here, she shares one of her favorite hikes in New Hampshire, West Rattlesnake Mountain.

For a short little hike, it has the best views of the Lakes Region! On the way up the mountain, you will come across wildlife like chipmunks and squirrels, but no snakes (thankfully!) You’ll follow a trail with wooden steps up to the top. It’s only about 30 minutes to the summit and the view is absolutely breathtaking. You can see the entire lakes region and surrounding mountains. If you’re going to hike it in the summer, pick a weekday so it isn’t so busy! It’s one of my favorite hikes of all time and I’d recommend it to anyone.” – Nina Weinstein

Is this one of the best mountains to hike in New England? Absolutely!

Having attended Plymouth State University (just a 10-minute drive from West Rattlesnake Mountain), Nina has hiked this mountain dozens of times. So if you’re looking to get engagement photos up on a mountain in New Hampshire, definitely give her a shout!

Follow Nina on Instagram and her photography website!

West Rattlesnake Mountain views
West Rattlesnake Mountain is among the best hikes in New England. | Photo credit: Nina Weinstein

Mount Washington (Tuckerman Ravine Trail)

Where: White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Total Distance: 7.9 miles / 12.7 km

Duration: 6-10 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Mount Washington Summit in New Hampshire.
Mount Washington Summit

Welcome to Mount Washington (6,288 ft. / 1,917 m), the highest mountain in the Northeastern US. As you may expect, it’s also one of the best mountains to hike in New England.

Mt. Washington is infamous for its extremely cold temperatures and hurricane-force winds. The summit is home to the highest recorded wind speed on Earth (231 mph / 372 kmh), as it’s located at the convergence of multiple storm tracks in the northeast. As such, it’s considered the most dangerous “small” mountain in the world and is only recommended for experienced hikers.

The elevation gain on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is also staggering – 4,169 feet from top to bottom.

Even if none of the above phases you, it’s still expected that hikers thoroughly research the trail and weather conditions beforehand. And of course, bring proper gear!

Now that the scary stuff is over with, here’s why it deserves to be listed among the best hikes in New England:

The views are spectacular all the way up, as you’ll pass by streams, waterfalls, and a variety of flora and fauna. The last 1,000 feet to the summit are a rock scramble that makes you feel like you’re on another planet. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail, though challenging, is one of the easier trails to the top. For a more strenuous trail with even better views, hike up the Boott Spur Trail or the Lion Head Trail.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway offers a unique vantage point of the White Mountains.

In addition to the hike, you can reach the summit by taking the Mount Washington Cog Railway or Mount Washington Auto Road.

For the quintessential Mt. Washington experience, I highly recommend staying at the Omni Mount Washington Resort!

Omni Mount Washington Hotel.
The Omni Mount Washington Resort is one of the most iconic hotels in New England.

Bash Bish Falls Trail

Where: Bash Bish Falls State Park, Massachusetts

Total Distance: 2.1 miles / 3.4 km

Duration: <1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Looking to discover one of the best day hikes in New England? Look no further than the Bash Bish Falls Trail in the Taconic Mountains!

This is a quick and easy hike with an amazing view. It’s best known for its 60-ft waterfall, Bash Bish Falls, the highest waterfall in Massachusetts. There’s also a series of other cascades that you’ll pass along the way. The pools beneath the falls and the rock wall are enchanting as well.

Bash Bish Falls in Massachusetts
Bash Bish Falls in Western Massachusetts

Though you may see a lot of people swimming in here, it’s strongly advised against, due to the shallow pools and slippery rocks. Instead, take lots of photos and soak in the natural serenity of one of New England’s best hidden gems.

I recommend visiting here in the fall during the peak foliage season. Bash Bish Falls is located in Berkshire County (the Berkshires), so you won’t run out of scenic spots to enjoy the fall colors.

Looking to try one of the best backpacking trips in New England? Continue from the Taconics to the Appalachian Trail. You’ll have thousands of miles of beautiful trails right in front of you!

Looking to visit Bash Bish Falls? Consider staying in one of these cool Airbnbs in the Berkshires.

Marginal Way

Where: Ogunquit, Maine

Total Distance: 2.3 miles / 3.7 km (out and back)

Duration: <1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine.
The Marginal Way is one of the best romantic hikes in New England.

Last – but not least – on this list of the best hikes in New England is one of my favorite coastal paths, the Marginal Way. It’s a shorter hike located in Ogunquit, Maine and gently hugs Maine’s scenic coastline.

Growing up in Boston, I’ve visited Ogunquit many times over the years, so this summer vacation town is near and dear to my heart. The Marginal Way is the highlight of each visit, providing a dose of serenity and a taste of Maine at its best.

Catch the sunset here, while listening to the waves crashing against the rugged coastline, and you’ll fall in love with it, too.

After walking the Marginal Way, stop at Perkins Cove and have a bite to eat at Barnacle Billy's with scenic views.
After walking the Marginal Way, stop at Perkins Cove and have a bite to eat at Barnacle Billy’s while enjoying these scenic views.

Looking to visit New England anytime soon? Stay in one of these unique Airbnbs!

Final thoughts on the best hikes in New England in 2020

Thanks for reading this round-up of the top hikes in New England! I hope this article provided you with helpful tips and inspiration that will serve you well in your future adventures around New England. A special thank you to all of the contributors for bringing depth and insight to each of these places!

As we visit these beautiful trails across New England, let’s all do our part to make sure we leave nothing behind except for footsteps. Hiking isn’t all about getting the perfect selfie or photo; it’s about feeling connected with nature. Try your best to avoid trampling over the vegetation, too. It’s important that we all hold ourselves accountable by respecting these trails, the flora and the fauna, and fellow hikers. And during these COVID times, be sure to practice social distancing and wear a mask whenever you’re passing by other hikers, especially in narrow passages. Thanks in advance from all of us who share this passion and appreciation for nature!

If you feel like I’m missing any best hikes in New England and would like to be featured, shoot me an email at jon(at)myglobalviewpoint.com and tell me why your pick deserves to be here!

Happy hiking and stay safe out there!

Jon

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