New York/ Boston Area
The Northeast offers a full menu of trail treats. Want to scramble above treeline? Stroll through a verdant forest? Bag a few peaks? Great, if you don’t mind Old Man Winter covering the landscape with ice and snow. Then there’s the small matter of the sizzling summers. What’s a fair-weather hiker to do?
Obstacle: Snowy winters
Solution: New Jersey’s Pine Barrens is a mystical place with a name that belies its wonders. The area is rich in local legends as well as gentle sandy trails and hundreds of nameless roads. Oddly shaped pitch pines with their pungent turpentine scent stretch as far as the eye can see, looking rather like an endless parade of chimney sweeps. River otters play along the winding riverbanks, where you can lose yourself in thought for days.
Begin your trip at historic Batsto Village on the Batona Trail, then head north for 12.4 miles to the Caranza Monument. Eventually, you’ll jump off the Batona Trail and follow the rail corridor west for 1 mile before connecting with a dirt road that hugs the banks of the Batsto River as it meanders south, back to Batsto Village. Total trip: aproximately 26 miles.
Directions: The trailhead is on NJ 542 at Batsto, off US 30 in south-central New Jersey, about 11/2 hours from New York City.
Maps: USGS 7.5-minute quads Atsion, Jenkins, and Indian Mills.
Contact: South Jersey Outdoor Club, P.O. Box 455, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; (856) 234-5298.
Obstacle: Hot summers
Solution: Drink in the coolness as you trek through Gulf Hagas Gorge in central Maine, where champagne waterfalls tumble beneath 400-foot, moss-covered cliffs in this magnificent gorge. Begin cooling your heels by fording the West Branch of the Pleasant River, then head north on the Appalachian Trail 2 miles to the junction with the Gulf Hagas Trail. Descend into the always chilly gorge, arm hairs standing on end, and scramble along the 5.2-mile rollicking trail up, over, and around green boulders with patches of ice that linger in crevasses long into summer.
The river is your constant companion until you leave the gorge and head north along the AT for about 10 miles. Plan to spend some time soaking up the views atop Whitecap Mountain before returning to the trailhead via the AT, which skates along the rim of Gulf Hagas’s slate cliffs.
Directions: Gulf Hagas is north of Dover-Foxcroft, off ME 6/15 near Greenville, about 6 hours from Boston.
Map: Gulf Hagas Trail map (available at the address below).
Contact: North Maine Woods Association, P.O. Box 425, 92 Main St., Ashland, ME 04732; (207) 435-6213; www.northmainewoods.org.
Custom Correct Maps, 3492 Little River Rd., Port Angeles, WA 98363.
Trails Illustrated, P.O. Box 4357, Evergreen, CO 80437-4357; 800-962-1643; www.trailsillustrated.com.
USGS Information Services, Box 25286, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225; 888-275-8747; www.usgs.gov.