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America’s Best Dayhikes: Northeast

From blueberry picking in New York and New Hampshire to pure solitude in New Hampshire and Maine, moose sitings in Vermont, and peaks in New York, these the hikes feature the best of the Northeast.

 

WEST | ROCKIES | SOUTH | SOUTHWEST | NORTHEAST | MIDWEST

 

PEAKS

Cascade Mountain, NY 4.2 miles (Easy)
The easiest of the Adirondack 4,000-footers lies in the heart of the High Peaks between Lake Placid and Keene. On this round-trip hike, climb through a mosaic of rocks and roots, then break out of the trees onto the elongated bald summit–with views so stunning it feels like cheating. Gaze out at Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, Whiteface Mountain, and the iconic Great Range. Arrive by 9 a.m. for a parking spot, though there’s plenty of space for a private picnic on the expansive summit ridge.
Season June-October
Info (518) 897-1276
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Mt. Mansfield, VT 6.8 miles (Moderate)
Hike to the top of Vermont on this round-trip along the Sunset Ridge Trail. Pass gravity-defying Cantilever Rock and two tunnels formed by enormous glacial erratics on the 2,550-foot ascent to the summit. Above treeline, enjoy views of Camels Hump, the Green Mountains, and the Adirondacks. Merge with the Appalachian Trail on the ridge, then stroll across puncheon and bedrock to reach The Chin, the true summit.
Season June-October
Info greenmountainclub.org
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Most Remote
Saddleback Mountain, ME 13.4 miles (Difficult)

Yes, the Appalachian Trail climbs Saddleback, but you’ll find none of the AT hordes from down south: This exposed round-trip route, in the heart of moose country, is traveled only by thru-hikers and mountain-savvy trekkers. About 1.4 miles from the start, scramble to the top of jutting Piazza Rock, which hangs at an outrageous angle with a tree bizarrely rooted to its top. Break from the gnarled krummholz to traverse a 1.6-mile ridge amid a maze of lichen-covered slab and chunks of granite. Then ascend wooden ladders to a subpeak called The Horn, with stay-awhile views of the Rangeley Lakes and the entire Sugarloaf region.
Season June-October
Info matc.org

MOOSE

Bald Mountain, VT 4.2 miles (Moderate)
Hike into the heart of the Northeast Kingdom on this South Trail out-and-back, which passes through several clearings where moose often linger. Then climb 1,450 feet to the summit of Bald Mountain-Westmore–which offers a striking view from the top of a 50-foot firetower. The vista encompasses nearby Lake Willoughby, the Whites in New Hampshire, and Lake Memphremagog.
Season May-November
Info (802) 244-7037

Moose Mountain, NH 8 miles (Moderate)
You don’t name a mountain Moose for its bird life. Take the Appalachian Trail across Mink Brook–where you’ll likely see a large ungulate before you’ve even broken a sweat–and then climb 1.9 miles through hardwoods to 2,290-foot South Peak (one of two peaks that constitute Moose Mountain). Check the view of Mt. Cardigan, and continue two miles along the ridge to North Peak, your turnaround.
Season Year-round (great for snowshoeing)
Info dartmouth.edu/~doc

Best Alpine Hike
Franconia Ridge, NH 9 miles (Difficult)

Get a taste of the Alps in New Hampshire on this high-wire loop. Franconia Ridge’s exposed, 1.7-mile alpine traverse–over Little Haystack Mountain, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Lafayette–feels much higher than its 5,000-foot elevation. The best loop route: Start on the Falling Waters Trail and climb through the spray of trailside cascades, emerging from treeline just below the summit of Little Haystack. Then head north on the Franconia Ridge Trail/AT and scramble over granite outcroppings as you peer across the entire Pemigewasett Wilderness. Rare diapensia and alpine sedges turn a patchwork of color in late September. From the AMC’s Greenleaf Hut, descend via the Old Bridle Path to close the loop.
Season June-October
Info (603)466-2721
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