Baldface Traverse, NH 9 miles (Difficult)
Who needs the crowded Presidential Range when you can have an extraordinary alpine ridge to yourself? Overlooked because they are less than 4,000 feet (barely), the Baldfaces rise on the eastern edge of the White Mountains. You can see Mt. Washington and the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness from the summit of South Baldface. Follow the trail markers carefully on this steep, ledgy loop. If the rocks are dry, climb to the north peak first, cross the broad treeless ridge to the south peak, then descend via the distinctive bald face.
Info (603) 466-2721
Mt. Abraham, ME 8 miles (Moderate)
Few hikers find their way to this spectacular mountain, despite its proximity to Portland and status as Maine’s first ecological reserve. The round-trip route starts out easy with a two-mile ramble through old-growth forest. Then it climbs relentlessly for two more miles–and almost 3,000 vertical feet–up a talus slope to the bald summit. The reward: a panorama that stretches from Mt. Washington to Mt. Katahdin–all to yourself. Above treeline, step carefully among the rare alpine plants, including Bigelow’s sedge and alpine bilberry.
Apple Pie Hill, NJ 8 miles (Moderate)
Solitude in America’s most densely populated state? You’ll find it here in the Pine Barrens, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Apple Pie Hill is only 209 feet above sea level, but it affords a commanding view of this million-acre maze of scrub pine, swamps, and bogs. Take the mostly level Batona Trail on this round-trip. In April, pine barrens tree frogs start raising their annual racket; orchids bloom from spring until late summer.
Season Year-round; spring and fall are best
Peekamoose/Table Mts., NY 8.6 miles (Moderate)
Hikers flock to nearby Slide Mountain, the highest summit in the Catskills. Let them. This out-and-back explores quiet forests on a 2,400-foot climb past a series of gravity-defying rocks. You’ll first reach the wooded cap of Peekamoose Mountain, then drop into a col and summit 3,847-foot Table Mountain. Best lunch spot: on the ledges just below the peak.
Devil’s Gulch, VT 4.6 miles (Moderate)
This minimally traveled section of the Long Trail offers maximum variety for the mileage: wildlife, ponds, a deep gorge, and a mountain view. Head south on the LT to Ritterbush Pond, in the heart of moose-rich Babcock Nature Preserve. Then meander through hardwoods to an A-frame "gateway" formed by two boulders, and enter Devil’s Gulch–a lush ravine with 175-foot-high walls. Ascend to a vista that includes Mt. Belvidere, then return through the gulch and close the loop by skirting the shore of Big Muddy Pond.