Whether you are looking for a fun family adventure, scenic day trip, or rigorous escapade… New England offers its fair share of beautiful hiking trails. From Connecticut to Maine, you can be sure to find a trail that will offer both challenges and rewards for hikers of all ages. I’ve outlined some of the most popular hiking trails in each New England state below.
Connecticut (Pine Knob Loop Trail)
This 2.5 mile round trip trail located on Coltsfoot Mountain in Sharon, CT is a short, but challenging trail. Situated within Housatonic Meadow State Park and Camping Area, Pine Knob Loop Trail covers two peaks – one at 1,120 feet and the other at 1,160 feet. Summit views showcase rolling hills and serene river valley scenes. One of the most family-friendly hikes in the region, this trail is easily accessible by car as parking is conveniently located directly off the highway.
Rhode Island (Jerimoth Hill)
Located near the Connecticut border in Foster, RI, Jerimoth hill is the highest point in Rhode Island (even at just 812 feet.) While it is hardly a mountain, Jerimoth Hill originally generated interest from hikers because it was so difficult to access. The hill was previously considered one of the State’s most restrictive areas, due to the fact that the owner’s only opened the trail to the public a few times a year. Rumor has it that they even shot at people who tried to trek the hill at times when it was not designated as ‘open to the public.’ Since ownership was taken over by the State several years ago, Jerimoth hill is now open to the public daily, beginning at 8am. Perfect for hikers of all skill levels, the hill’s summit is a large rock, located just 200 yards from the main road.
Massachusetts (Appalachian Trail, Mt. Greylock)
At 3,491 feet, Mt. Greylock is considered the highest point in Massachusetts. The mountain’s Appalachian Trail is located near Adams, MA and transcends through the Berkshires mountain range. Mt. Greylock contains several forest communities and is designated as an ‘IBA’ (Important Bird Area) due to the fact that many of the species of birds found on the mountain are not normally found in MA. Most suitable for experienced hikers, Appalachian Trail is about 15 miles round trip and therefore considered by most to be an all-day affair. From the peak, dramatic views extend 60-90 miles out and encompass 5 states: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The trail to the summit is open seasonally from the end of May to the beginning of November.
Vermont (Sunset Ridge Trail, Mt. Mansfield)
One of the most scenic trails in New England, Sunset Ridge Trail on Mt. Mansfield boasts a beautiful series of cascades and impressive summit views. Situated in the Green Mountains, about 17 miles east of Burlington, Mt. Mansfield is Vermont’s highest peak. The moderately difficult trail runs along a brook and crosses several streams. Along the ascent, hikers are presented with rare alpine plants and flowers and should expect rocky, exposed ledges and a few extremely steep areas (foot-and-hand holds are plentiful for everyone’s convenience.) Sunset Ridge Trail is approximately 6.6 miles round trip and is open daily.
New Hampshire (Basin Cascades Trail, White Mountains)
Situated in Lincoln, NH, Basin Cascades Trail is part of Franconia Notch State Park within New Hampshire’s White Mountains. While most popular during the autumn months when foliage is at its peak, the trail sees a steady stream of hikers year round. Hikers are attracted to the trail’s multiple waterfalls and cascades, the biggest being Cascade Brook – which falls 35 feet between a narrow gorge, over two sets of rocky steps. The 2 mile hike takes about 1.5 hours round trip, and is suitable for all skill levels. Picture link
Maine (Hunt Trail, Katahdin Mountain)
As the centerpiece of Baxter State Park, Katahdin Mountain is Maine’s highest peak – standing at 5,269 feet tall. The mountain is formed primarily of granite and contains 5 separate peaks. Hunt Trail is one of the most frequented trails on the mountain – a strenuous 10.4 mile round trip trail which was first explored by Henry David Thoreau in 1846. The rugged trail, which was chronicled in Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, includes waterfalls, boulders, and rock staircases. The steep climb offers extensive views in all directions, from start to finish – as the majority of the trail is above tree line. Weather can be harsh and unpredictable, so layers and high-quality hiking shoes are recommended.