Short Is The New Long: 10 Must-Hike Long Distance Trails In New England & New York
Picture yourself at the beginning of a trailhead. The beginning of a trail that takes you across high mountain ridges, by endless scenic views and through neighboring towns. A trail that connects you on a deeper level to the outdoors, to a new community and to the world.
Long distance hiking has been on the minds of many for years now. In fact, it was on the mind of Benton Mackaye atop Stratton Mountain in the 1921. Benton is responsible for conceiving what we now know as one of the most legendary trails in the country and the oldest long distance footpath in North America, the Appalachian Trail. This isn't the only long distance trail we have to enjoy and explore here in New England & New York though. The Appalachian Trail was just the beginning and throughout the years many others have been inspired, creating other long distance hiking trails that we continue to enjoy to this day. Below you will find 10 of our favorites, yup 10 (and possibly many more to come)! So grab your weekend pack, reconnect with yourself and the outdoors. The possibilities are endless. See you out there!
1. Appalachian Trail (2,190 miles)
This legendary hiking trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world! Spanning from Georgia to Maine, it connects 14 states, their communities and a new class of thru-hikers each year. Don't currently have 6 months and 5 million steps for the trail? Not to worry. Here in the northeast, the trail runs through New York, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine. You can pick up on pretty much any section of this trail as a day hike, overnight or weeklong adventure.
2. New England Trail (215 miles)
Designated as a national scenic trail in 2009, this trail along with the Appalachian Trail and 9 others are the only current National Scenic Trails in the country. A 215 mile journey on this trail begins at Long Island Sound in Guilford, CT and runs through the hearts of Connecticut & Massachussetts to the border of New Hampshire. Along this trail you will find rich New England history, panoramic views and various microclimate ecosystems.
3. The Long Trail (272 miles)
Hailing as the oldest long distance hiking path in the U.S., The Long Trail starts at the Massachussetts-Vermont state line and continues all the way to the Canada border. On this trail you will find steep and rewarding peak-bagging hiking through the heart of Vermont. Beginner's through experts will enjoy it's challenges, mud, alpine tundra environment on a couple peaks and a little hiking on the Appalachian Trail. You can also stop in Waterbury, VT after your trip for a beer crafted by the trail inspired Long Trail Brewing Company.
4. Pemi-Loop (31.5 miles)
This loop is a quintessential trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Take in the endless views of Franconia Ridge, spend the night in a lean-to and hit one of our favorite spots on the loop, The Bonds. Many take 3-5 days to do this loop as it has a lot of ups and downs and there is no true trail signage stating "Pemi-Loop." It is still one the the greatest loops in New England for those up to the challenge. Want to try part of the loop? There is a semi-pemi option that splits this entire loop in half if you only have a couple of days. You can also try the Bonds Traverse, a grueling weekend trip with steep terrain and rewards. One is catching the sunrise in the White Mountains from the Guyot Shelter area.
5. Tunxis Trail (79 miles)
This lesser travelled trail offers solitude, primitive backcountry style camping and maybe even a moose sighting. It runs parallel to the New England Trail's Metacomet ridge all the way into Massachussetts and back to the CT border. Highlights include: Compounce Ridge, Tory Den, Miles of Ledges, Indian Council Caves, Ratlum Mountain and Pine Mountain. Rugged and scenic, this is not one to miss.
6. Presidential Traverse (23 miles)
One of the most difficult trails in New England and the country, the Presidential Traverse hits all of the Presidential range peaks in the White Mountains, including Mount Washington. Mount Washington is one of our most prized landmarks in the northeast. A training ground for Everest climbers, this peak also held the record for highest wind speed ever recorded on earth for 79 years (231mph). Yet, every once in a while you can end up having the best of luck enjoying views up top on a calm blue sky day. The traverse can be done in a day (first day of summer, longest amount of light) for those with experience and conditioning. There are places to stay for the night along the way, so there is also an option to turn it into a 2 or 3 day trip if desired. This trip is well worth the price of admission and should be added to any hikers bucket list.
7. Mid-State Trail (95 miles)
The mostly easy to hike Mid-State Trail begins at the Rhode Island border and crosses the gentle rolling hills of central Massachussetts to the border of New Hampshire. Though this trail is easily accessible in many areas, it also remains wild and scenic. Highlights include Mount Wachusett and Mount Watatic (the last undeveloped mountain east of the CT River). Explore and enjoy many geologic, natural and historic features during this week-long adventure.
8. North-South Trail (77 miles)
This 77 mile trail utilizes land management areas, state parks and rustic rural roads in Rhode Island. Yup, Rhode Island! Starting near Long Island Sound, the North-South Trail travels along the western portion of the state to the border of Massachussetts and Connecticut. It can be done anywhere between 4 to 7 days depending on your hiking pace. It also connects to number 7 on our list so you can continue all the way to New Hampshire if you want to extend the trip.
9. South Taconic Trail (15 miles)
This tri-state hiking trail may be shorter than the others, but it is strenuous and challenging. Hit landmarks such as Alander Mountain and Bash Bish Falls as you hike parallel to Appalachian Trail to the east. View the Catskills off to the west, swim in the falls and spend an overnight with primitive camping in Mount Washington State Forest. This is one of the lesser travelled trails on our list so solitude is more than likely to be found here.
10. Richard H. Goodwin Trail (14 miles)
This newly created trail opened up in June 2016 and is sure to please. In a state that seems to be overly developed everywhere you look, the 14 mile trail passes through civilization only 4 times! Hike through the southern Connecticut towns of East Haddam, Salem, Lyme & East Lyme. Throughout the trail you will cross through various ecosystems, rare natural landmarks and historic lands. Despite being close to the shoreline, this trail also offers moderation so you can expect a friendly challenge with a total elevation gain of around 3500ft by the end.