It’s human nature to seek out the extremes. Use that urge to your advantage: The views and climbs are often just as rewarding on less-tall mountains, with none of the bustle.
Such is the case on the Cohos (Co-AHSS) Trail, a 165-mile path spanning the wild northern third of New Hampshire. “The big peaks of the White Mountains are where most of the hiking pres- sure gets siphoned off,” says trail founder Kim Nilsen. Left for you: The Cohos’s 4,000-foot summits, glacial tarns, quiet beaver ponds, and abundant wildlife. Sample it on the 25-mile chunk from the Starr King to South Pond, where you’ll top out on 10 summits. Take Starr King Trail to Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the Mt. Cabot shelter at mile 14.5. Next day, scramble up 3,905-foot The Horn, pass Unknown Pond (also good camping), skirt the cliffs of Roger’s Ledge, and descend in a mossy forest to South Pond.
Season Late June to October Trailheads 44.418428, -71.467600 (Starr King); 44.597355, -71.367285 (Kilkenny Ridge) Permit None Shuttle $150 for up to 6 passengers; trailangelshikerservices.comInfofs.usda.gov/whitemountain