Best Hiking Trails In The Northeast

The best hiking trails in the Northeast offer the most breathtaking views, thrilling trails, fulfilling distances, and unforgettable walks in nature.

You might have heard about the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide Trail which are both famous national trails but more fantastic trails await every type of hiker.

The Northeast of the United States is a haven for several lovely hiking trails that every hiker would not want to miss out on.

If you’re a novice when it comes to hiking or even a seasoned one, you will find the list that we have below super helpful in choosing which trails to explore in the Northeast.

So, let’s go ahead and take a look at the best hiking trails in the Northeast.

15. Gulf Hagas Trail – Northern Maine

Gulf Hagas Trail - Northern Maine
  • Distance: 7.9 miles (8.6 miles if you start from the east trailhead)
  • Highest Elevation: 2,682-foot
  • Elevation Gain: 954 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 3-4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

Gulf Hagas Trail is a wonderful trail to visit that offers views of scenic waterfalls along the way for bold hikers. This trail is even called “The Grand Canyon of Maine”.

You will begin on the Appalachian Trail and then pass by the Pleasant River Tote Road.

Passing by the Rim Trail, you will get the chance to see fantastic waterfalls like Buttermilk Falls, Stair Falls, and Billings Falls. As you hike to the top, you will also be rewarded with overlooking views of the Pleasant River.

Because of the river crossing, if you don’t want to walk in wet, squeaky shoes, bring sandals to wear to keep your shoes dry. This trail is also known to have rough paths so you must have sturdy shoes.

Top Tips When Hiking the Gulf Hagas Trail

  1. This is a popular trail so if you want solitude during the hike, choose a day hike during the weekdays.
  2. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  3. Make sure to bring a compass and a trail map as the trail is mostly underdeveloped wilderness.

14. Ocean Path Trail and Precipice Trail – Bar Harbor, Maine

Ocean Path Trail and Precipice Trail - Bar Harbor, Maine

Ocean Path Trail

  • Distance: 4.4 miles round trip distance
  • Elevation Gain: 374-foot
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 2-4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Season: Year-round

Precipice Trail

  • Distance: 2.5-mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,053-foot
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 2-3 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Can be closed from late spring through mid-August

Ocean Path Trail and Precipice Trail are both incredible trails on the ground of Acadia National Park.

The Ocean Path Trail on the coast of Maine is an easy trail that leads you along the coastline giving you a chance to see different landscapes like the Beehive, the Great Head, and Sand Beach.

There are also many opportunities for birdwatching along this Acadia National Park’s trail that hikers will enjoy. The best time to go on this trail is during the summer as there will be more daylight to enjoy the views.

Meanwhile, the Precipice Trail is a more challenging hike as it involves some scrambling over iron rungs and ladders.

This Acadia National Park’s trail will give you a chance to see different wildlife like peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and rock climbers.

The best time to go for this trail is during the fall as the leaves will be changing color and it will be a very picturesque hike.

Top Tips When Hiking The Ocean Path Trail and Precipice Trail

  1. Wear sturdy shoes as the terrain can be rocky.
  2. Pack plenty of water and snacks as there are no facilities along the way.
  3. Be aware of the tides as you don’t want to be caught in the middle of the ocean.

13. Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation – Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation - Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Great Blue Hill Via Skyline Trail

  • Distance: 2.98- mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 813-foot
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: Around 2 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

Great Blue Hill via Coon Hollow Path

  • Distance: 1.49-mile out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 368-foot
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 1 hour
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Season: Year-round

The Great Blue Hill in The Blue Hills Reservation of Massachusetts is one of the impressive day hikes that you can do in the Northeast and one of the best hikes near Boston.

The Great Blue Hill is considered the largest hill among the stunning Blue Hills so it is a top choice to hike on the Reservation.

In your Massachusetts day hike, you will get through marshes, hills, and meadows and novices are welcome because there’s an easy route choice.

Top Tips When Hiking the Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation

  1. Bring a trail map, you can buy one from the Blue Hills Trailside Museum.
  2. Bring plenty of water.
  3. Always check the weather forecast.

12. Welch and Dickey Mountain Loop – Thornton, New Hampshire

Welch and Dickey Mountain Loop - Thornton, New Hampshire
  • Distance: 4.41 miles
  • Highest Elevation: 2,734-foot
  • Elevation Gain: 1,778 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 3-4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

Welch and Dickey Mountain Loop is also one of the most impressive mountains to climb in the Northeast. This New Hampshire hike is also a famous spot to hike in the White Mountains National Park.

This White Mountains National Park’s trail will give you a unique experience as you will see different landscapes. The first part of the hike is easy but it will get more challenging as you reach the summit.

The views of New Hampshire from the top are worth it though as you can see the entire Presidential Range.

Top Tips When Hiking Welch and Dickey Mountain Loop

  • Start early to avoid the crowd.
  • Wear proper shoes as the terrain can be slippery.
  • Pack plenty of water and snacks.

11. Breakneck Ridge Trail – Philipstown / Fishkill, New York

Breakneck Ridge Trail - Philipstown / Fishkill, New York
  • Distance: 3.2 miles round trip
  • Highest Elevation: 1,260-foot
  • Elevation Gain: 1,269 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 2-3 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Season: Year-round

Breakneck Ridge Trail in New York is one of the most dangerous and challenging Northeast hikes. The first part of the hike in New York is a bit easy but it will get more difficult as you reach the top.

There are sections with very steep inclines and rock scrambles to the summit which can be daunting for some hikers.

However, the breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley, New York make this hike one of the most popular in the Northeast.

Top Tips When Hiking Breakneck Ridge Trail in New York

  1. Wear proper shoes as there are areas with loose rocks.
  2. Start early to avoid the crowd and heat.
  3. Pack plenty of water and snacks.
  4. Carry a flashlight as some sections may be dark.
  5. If you’re confused about where to find the trailhead, you may look at the HiketheHudsonValley or Google Map and find the BreakNeck Ridge Entry Point.

10. Blue And Violet Loop Sleeping Giant State Park – Hamden, Connecticut

Blue And Violet Loop Sleeping Giant State Park - Hamden, Connecticut
  • Distance: 8.01 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,692 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 4-5 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

Blue And Violet Loop Sleeping Giant State Park is one of the best day hikes to consider when hiking up North. The climb is fairly steep with spectacular cliffside vistas and panoramas of the surrounding mountains.

As one of the best Mountains in the Northeast, you will pass by some giant rock formations and magical lush foliage, especially during autumn.

If you’re a fan of horror movies, you will see some eerie and haunting ruins that are also Instagram-worthy.

Top Tips when Hiking in the Blue And Violet Loop Sleeping Giant State Park

  1. Make sure you are prepared for the hike as some parts of the trail require you to rock climb.
  2. Bring enough snacks and water with all the essential hiking gear
  3. Consider packing a picnic lunch as the views from the highest peak is spectacular

9. Hiking Trail in Cadillac Mountain – Acadia National Park Hancock County, Maine

Hiking Trail in Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park Hancock County, Maine

Searching for the best East Coast backpacking, you would not want to miss out on the trails of Cadillac Mountain as it is one of the most magnificent mountains in the Northeast.

There are several trails to choose from as follows:

Gorge Path

  • Distance: 2.5 miles out and back trail
  • Elevation Gain: 797 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 1-2 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

George Path in Cadillac Mountain is one of the oldest and most popular trails in Acadia National Park. This is a beautiful and strenuous hike with an ascent of nearly 800 feet. The trail will take you through a lush forest and rocky cliffs with scenic views of the ocean.

You will also see some unique rock formations along the way.

North Ridge

  • Distance: 4.2 miles out and back trail
  • Elevation Gain: 1,128 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 2-3 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

The North Ridge trail is a bit more difficult than the Gorge Path but it is worth it as the views from the top are simply breathtaking.

You will get to see the majestic mountains, beautiful forests, and stunning coastline. The North Ridge trail is quite rocky and muddy in some parts so make sure you wear proper shoes.

South Ridge

  • Distance: 6.1 miles out and back trail
  • Elevation Gain: 1,548 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 3-4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

The South Ridge Trail is one of the best places to hike in May as the wildflowers are simply gorgeous.

This is a strenuous hike with an elevation gain of over 1500 feet. The trail will take you through some difficult sections with loose rocks.

But the views from the top are worth it as you get to see the beautiful mountains, forests, and coastline.

West Face

  • Distance: 3.1 miles out and back trail
  • Elevation Gain: 1,309 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 2-3 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Challenging
  • Season: Year-round

The West Face trail of Cadillac Mountain is another great choice among the best Northeast hikes. The views from the top of the mountain are simply breathtaking.

You will get to see the beautiful forests, mountains, and coastline. The trail is quite steep in some parts so make sure you are prepared for a challenging hike.

Top Tips When Hiking in Acadia National Park

  1. Make sure you are prepared for the hike as some trails can be quite challenging.
  2. Wear proper shoes and clothing as the weather can change quickly.
  3. Bring enough water and snacks as there are no water sources along the way.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings for any wildlife in the park.
  5. Follow the trail markings and do not try to shortcut the trails.

8. Metacomet Ridge New England National Scenic Trail – Simsbury, Connecticut

Metacomet Ridge New England National Scenic Trail - Simsbury, Connecticut
  • Distance: 62.2 miles point to point
  • Elevation Gain: 7965 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 4-5 days
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Season: Year-round

The Metacomet Ridge is a New England National Scenic Trail and one of the most amazing hikes that hikers who prefer long hikes should traverse.

The Metacomet Ridge has a length of around 62 miles, and the views from the top are just incredible.

You will get to see the beautiful mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes. The trail is quite challenging with steep sections and difficult terrain.

You get to pass by traprock ridgeline, some wonderful 360-degree views, unique Metacomet chimney-like basalt, and an abundance of trailside wildflowers, especially during spring.

But the views from the top are worth it as you get to see stunning New England views.

Top Tips When Hiking in Metacomet Ridge

  1. Bring a water filter, some water sources require filtration.
  2. Bring enough food for this long hike and of course, make sure you have the necessary camping gear.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings as you might encounter some wildlife. Make sure you are well-prepared before attempting this long hike.

7. Franconia Ridge Trail – New Hampshire

Franconia Ridge Trail - New Hampshire
  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Highest Elevation: 5,249 feet (Mount Lafayette )
  • Elevation Gain: 3,822 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 6-7 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Season: Year-round

The Franconia Ridge Trail is also one of the best Northeast hikes. This trail is for those who are looking for a challenge as it has some difficult sections.

You will start the hike at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center and follow the Franconia Brook Trail for 2 miles. Then you will take the Falling Waters Trail which is a very steep and challenging trail.

Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with the majestic views of New Hampshire. You can also extend your hike to include other peaks such as Mount Liberty and Mount Flume.

Top Tips When Hiking in Franconia Ridge Trail

  1. Bring enough water as there are no water sources along the trail.
  2. Start early to avoid crowds and the heat of the day.
  3. Wear proper shoes as the trails can be slippery when wet.

6. Cedar Run Falls Trail – Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Cedar Run Falls Trail - Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Distance: 5.78 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,247 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 4-5 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
  • Season: Year-round

Cedar Run Falls Trail in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia is another one of the most memorable Northeast hikes. The trail will have every hiker pass by some lovely ponds and small waterfalls.

Bring out your snacks and camping chair as you can even have a picnic on some spots as this trail has some of the best waterfall views.

One of the falls has a deep pool where you can just chill and swim in the refreshing waters.

The trail does not also lead directly to waterfalls, one tip to get to the falls is to follow the river. There are falls too that are more elusive but you can catch the sound of the water and follow the sound to get to the smaller waterfalls.

If you want additional adventure, this trail is connected to Whiteoak Canyon Trail where more waterfalls await hikers.

Top Tips when Hiking in Cedar Run Falls Trail

  1. Bring extra clothes for swimming as there is a delightful swimming hole near the trail.
  2. You can also bring extra sandals if you don’t want your shoes to get wet during the hike.
  3. Make sure to pack enough food and snacks.

5. Pulpit Rock to Pinnacle Loop – Hamburg, Pennsylvania

Pulpit Rock to Pinnacle Loop - Hamburg, Pennsylvania
  • Distance: 9.3-mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,250 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 3-4hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

The Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle Loop is another one of the best hiking trails in the Northeast. This is a very popular trail in Pennsylvania so it can get crowded on weekends.

The best time to hike this trail is during the weekdays. The views from the top of the Pinnacle are just breathtaking. You can see for miles and miles.

One of the things that you will love about this hike is that it has a lot of rocks. So, if you are into rock scrambling then this is the hike for you.

The trail can be a bit challenging in some sections but it is still doable for beginner hikers.

Top Tips When Hiking in Pulpit Rock to Pinnacle Loop

  1. Start your hike early as the trail can get crowded.
  2. Wear sturdy shoes as there are a lot of rocky areas
  3. Bring enough water and snacks.

4. Mt. Mansfield Loop Trail- Green Mountains, Vermont

Mt. Mansfield Loop Trail- Green Mountains, Vermont
  • Distance: 7.27 miles
  • Highest Elevation: 4,393-foot
  • Elevation Gain: 2,880 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 5-6 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

Mt. Mansfield Look Trail is another one of the best hikes in the Northeast USA. Mt. Mansfield is the highest peak in Vermont and the summit brings breathtaking views.

You have to prepare for this hike as there are technical parts. Take for example the Maple Ridge Trail with a rock wall and a chasm that you have to leap over.

Once you reach the rocky part of Maple Ridge Trail, you will be rewarded with the most magnificent views in Vermont. One of the amazing things about Mt. Mansfield is that it is one of the two places in Vermont where Alpine Tundra can be found.

Other options aside from the loop trail to the summit of the mountain are Laura Cowles Trail, Lake Champlain, and the Taft Lodge.

Top Tips When Hiking in Mt. Mansfield Loop Trail

  1. Avoid hiking during bad weather conditions.
  2. Make sure to bring enough water during the hike. Potable water is available at the trailhead.
  3. Hike early if you want to avoid crowds as this is one of the most popular trails in Vermont.

3. Lion’s Head to Bear Mountain – Salisbury, Connecticut

Lion’s Head to Bear Mountain - Salisbury, Connecticut
  • Distance: 13 miles
  • Highest Elevation: 2,316-foot (Bear Mountain’s Peak)
  • Elevation Gain: Approximately 1210 feet in Lion’s Head and 1683 feet in Bear Mountain
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Year-round

Lion’s head to Bear Mountain offers gorgeous views to hikers who are determined to hike the miles in Salisbury Connecticut and is one of the best hikes in the Northeast.

The trailhead of the hike is located at Bunker Hill Road.

The Lion’s Head will give you spectacular views of Western Connecticut. You will also get to visit a rustic shelter called Riga Shelter with sweeping valley sceneries and the Appalachian Trail.

After Riga Shelter, you are then headed to Bear Mountain where you will pass by refreshing streams. There will be a change of terrain as you climb the mountain. From the invigorating woodlands to fascinating shorter plants that grow at high altitudes. And of course, reaching the peak would give you breathtaking views from up above.

The descent will be shorter than the ascent but make sure to bring flashlights just in case the night catches up with you.

Top Tips When Hiking Lion’s Head to Bear Mountain

  1. Sunrise or sunset hike offers the best views.
  2. Wear Multilayer Breathable Fabric for the cold temperature.
  3. Bring a competent partner with you. It’ll be more fun if you have someone with you on the trail.

2. Summit Mt. Katahdin via Knife Edge – Northeast Piscataquis, Maine

Summit Mt. Katahdin via Knife Edge - Northeast Piscataquis, Maine
  • Distance: 9.7 miles
  • Highest Elevation: 5,267-foot
  • Elevation Gain: Around 4,000 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 8-10 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Difficult Tactical Trail
  • Season: Year-round

If you’re one of the hardcore hikers, the difficult trail to the summit of Mt. Katahdin via Knife Edge will be one of the best hiking in the Northeast experience for you.

Mt. Katahdin is considered The Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the highest peak in Maine.

This long-trail hike is not for the faint of heart as it involves some minor rock climbing, using your hands and feet to get a good grip of the terrain. The ridge trail is also very narrow with a lot of exposure to drop-offs.

However, if you think you can brave it, the stunning views of green mountains during your elevation gain to the highest peak of the mountain and the sense of accomplishment you will feel after finishing the hike are worth it.

Just make sure to be extra careful during your visit as one false move could mean a long fall down the mountain.

Top Tips When Hiking the Summit of Mt. Katahdin via Knife Edge

  1. Make sure to check the weather forecast. You will be passing by a dangerous trail and you would not want to be caught in a storm while on the knife edge trail.
  2. Pack a full lunch and bring 3-4 liters of water.
  3. Start early to finish early and not walk in the dark.

1. The Presidential Traverse – The White Mountains, New Hampshire

The Presidential Traverse - The White Mountains, New Hampshire
  • Distance: 20.38 miles point to point
  • Highest Elevation: 6,289-foot
  • Elevation Gain: 8,212 feet
  • Estimated number of hours to finish: 2-3 days
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Season: Year-round

New Hampshire’s Presidential Traverse Trail is probably one of the most difficult and strenuous Northeast Hiking Trails in the White Mountains. This best backpacking in the Northeast trail of New Hampshire usually starts from the north to south and passes by several peaks as follows:

  1. Mount Madison
  2. Mount Adams
  3. Mount Jefferson
  4. Mount Clay
  5. Mount Washington
  6. Mount Monroe
  7. Mount Franklin
  8. Mount Eisenhower
  9. Mount Pierce 
  10. Mount Jackson

This is one of the hikes up north that should not be taken lightly as the routes are challenging. Some would even bail out halfway but with proper preparation and the right hiking and camping gear, completing the hike is an accomplishment of a lifetime.

Aside from the splendid views as you hike from one peak to another, certain areas make this trail one of the most memorable Northeast hikes. There’s a deep valley called The Great Gulf and a grassy area called the Monticello Lawn on Mount Jefferson’s southern shoulder.

You will also pass by a popular tourist attraction which is the peak of Mount Washington with a snack bar that opens during summer, spring, and fall.

Top Tips When Hiking The Presidential Traverse

  1. Choose dates in the late spring into summer as these times have the highest chances of hiking success
  2. A good compass and map skills are a must for this wilderness hike
  3. Very important to check the weather condition and bring appropriate hiking gear.

So those are some of the best hiking trails in the Northeast that you can explore! Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, there’s a trail for everyone. Just make sure to have the proper preparation before the hike and bring your hiking backpack for your complete hiking or camping gear. Enjoy your hike!

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