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Backpacker Magazine – May 2009

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.

by: Lisa Densmore

Franconia Ridge (Tyler Stableford)
Franconia Ridge (Tyler Stableford)
Big Muddy Pond, Devil's Gulch (Lisa Densmore)
Big Muddy Pond, Devil's Gulch (Lisa Densmore)

 

WEST | ROCKIES | SOUTH | SOUTHWEST | NORTHEAST | MIDWEST

 

SOLITUDE

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.
Season June-October
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.
Season June-October
Info matc.org

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
Info nj.gov/pinelands

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.
Season May-October
Info dec.ny.gov

Most Diverse
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.
Season May-October
Info greenmountainclub.org




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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

matt
Oct 06, 2011

Probably my favorite short day-hike in New Hampshire is Mount Chocorua. Completely exposed summit cone, blueberries on the top half of the mountain. Pretty sweet for a couple hours of work.

Of course, the ultimate day hike in New Hampshire is a Presi Traverse. Do it in early summer to get maximum daylight and minimum chance of freak winter storms. Seeing people's reactions on the ridge when you say you're hiking the whole thing in one day is also a highlight. Usually a mix of, "oh that's pretty cool/hide the kids because this person is insane"

Richard Ruch
Feb 17, 2011

There are a lot of great hikes here in the northeast and many are mentioned in this article. My favorite hike which will stretch the day hike category is the Bondcliff/Bond range in NH. One only needs to go there once an experience the 360 degree views of the White mountains plus the spectaculer rock outcroppings to appreciate it's beauty.
The early part of the hike is on a flat road until you meet the trail junction for Bondcliff. From there the trail gradually assends to the "cliffs" getting more difficult as you get nearer the summitt. Allow a full day for this hike so you can spend lots of time on the ridges and cliffs. I give it a difficult rating based on the length of the trip.

John Weber
Jun 29, 2010

Lest anyone else think they might sight a moose on the way to Moose Mountain, our recent trip there revealed no sign of moose let alone sightings. There was nary a print or poop to be found. Folks we met on the trail that frequented the area said they have never spotted a moose there in years. The hike is still quite pleasant. We took our 5 year old who negotiated it quite readily...just don't promise a moose before you go!

Ivan
Jul 01, 2009

The Franconia Ridge route is terrific. Definitely in my top 10, including western peaks as well as eastern. You can make it a loop by ascending the Falling Waters Trail and returning via the Greenleaf and Old Bridle Path trails. You must be in decent shape. Don't forget to eat a good hearty breakfast. (I blew that only once!)

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