For a region that only comprises six states and has a combined area of 71,991 square miles, New England’s topography is incredibly diverse. From rolling hills and mountains to jagged ocean coastlines, it’s a playground for nature lovers and avid hikers.
If you haven’t yet explored New England from the ground — you should. The following hiking trails make scenic, active day trips.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
This Stoneham-set reservation is just a short 15-minute drive north of Boston. With over 100 miles of mixed-use trails, there is plenty to do including boating across Spot Pond, fishing, mountain biking or walking your dogs. The reservation’s signature skyline trail is a five-hour trek in mostly wooded landscape, with impressive views of Boston from Wright’s Tower.
Mount Greylock State Reservation
High up in Berkshire County, in Lanesborough, Massachusetts, Mt. Greylock stands at 3, 491 feet tall and is the highest peak in Massachusetts. Breathtaking scenery awaits those who make it to the summit, where you’ll also find the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower. Several trails summit Greylock’s peak, from moderate level to strenuous, and stretching from 0.2 miles to 3.6 miles.
Mt. Monadnock is the most prominent peak in southern New Hampshire, at 3,165 feet. In fact, it is nearly 1,000 feet higher than any other mountain peak within 30 miles, and has been hailed over the years by the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who featured it in their writings. It is recommended that first-time hikers take the White Dot Trail up, which spans two miles and takes about two hours to ascend. To descend, the White Cross Trail is a popular route, spanning 2.2 miles and taking about two and a half hours to complete.
Ocean Path at Acadia National Park
In Bar Harbor, Maine, Acadia National Park’s seaside hike is relatively easy and great for families. The trailhead is situated at the far end of the upper parking lot at Sand Beach, and continues south for about two miles until it arrives at Otter Cliff. Enjoy picturesque harbor views and surrounding islands. At the hike’s halfway point, pause at Thunder Hole — as its name suggests, Thunder Hole is a small inlet naturally carved out of rocks where the waves crash into for a spectacular show.
The Beehive Trail at Acadia National Park
A lot more challenging than its tranquil Ocean Path cousin is Acadia’s titular trail, named for the mountain it summits. Beehive Mountain stands at 520 feet high and the trek to the top features steep climbs and exposed cliffs. Don’t worry, metal rungs throughout the trail help you keep your footing. The trailhead starts 100 feet north of the Sand Beach parking area, and runs for 0.8 miles. Enjoy panoramic views at the top.
Castle Craig Tower
You don’t need to travel to Europe to visit a castle, only Meriden, where Connecticut has its own — even if it is just 32 feet tall. The stone observation tower is located on the East Peak, and from there, visitors can look out as far as the Long Island Sound on a clear day. The most popular way to get there is on the White Trail, a rather painless 2.8 mile trip, there and back.