Online Exclusive: Readers' Choice 2012: Lisa Densmore's Five Favorite Hikes in the Northeast

Five more must-do hikes from this region's top map contributor—with 20 years of experience in the area—dishes tips for beating the crowds on her all-time favorite hikes.

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Lisa Densmore

Chateaugay Lake, NY

“Solitude secret? There are hundreds of great peaks below the popular 4,000 footers.”


1. Baldface Circle Trail, White Mountain NF, NH

This 8.3-mile loop stays just shy of the 4,000-foot mark, which keeps peak-bagger crowds away. But Densmore calls the hike to two summits “most spectacular.” Begin from near the AMC’s Cold River Camp and climb gradually for a mile before tackling a 2,500-foot ascent to the ridge. Pass gorges and technical scramble sections on the way to distant views of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range. Trip ID27259

2. Mt. Moosilauke, White Mountain NF, NH

Densmore makes a point to do this 7.3-mile loop every year; “It has a huge reward for the miles,” she says. From the Ravine Lodge, climb the Gorge Brook trail to 100 acres of alpine zone at the top of the 4,802-foot peak. Descend via the carriage road, or cut off 2.9 miles by heading down the Snapper Ski Trail, site of the first U.S. national ski championship. Trip ID8218

3. Mount Morgan & Mount Percival, White Mountain NF, NH

“This 4.7 mile loop is my favorite to do with my son,” says Densmore. “It has so much to it.” From the north end of Squam Lake, climb a series of ladders built into the cliff wall and crawl through a boulder cave on the way to 2220-foot Mt. Morgan. Enjoy views of lakes below before hiking across the blueberry-laden ridge (July) to 2212-foot Mt. Percival and views north to Franconia Ridge. Descend via another boulder cave on the Mt. Percival Trail. Trip ID431585

4. Catamount Mountain, Adirondack Park, NY

3,168-foot Catamount Mountain is Densmore’s favorite spot for photographing fall foliage. From the trailhead off Plank Rd. near Wilmington, NY, the unmaintained but easy-to-follow trail climbs 1,500 feet in 1.7 miles to the open, rocky summit. Let your inner shutterbug loose on the 360-degree views of wooded peaks stretching all the way to Canada on a clear day. Pro tip: Go in late September for the best leafy blazes. Trip ID136355

5. Algonquin Peak, Adirondack Park, NY

New York’s second-highest peak offers something its taller neighbor, Mt. Marcy, can’t: views of Marcy’s impressive hulk framed by Lake Colden and Mt. Colden – with a shorter hike to boot. A 7.6-mile out-and-back takes you to the rocky 5,411-foot summit. Start from the the Adirondak Loj and ascend via the Van Hoevenberg Trail. Trip ID428631