Northern New England is home to countless hiking trails, many of which are popular destinations for day hikers from all over the region. A typical summer day on Mt. Washington, Katahdin or anywhere in Acadia National Park will be teeming with fellow hikers and tourists. To be clear, the popularity of these destinations is well deserved as they are some of the most beautiful spots in the northeast, but for those that have already checked these places off their list, here are three less heavily traversed trails that many New Englanders have probably never heard of.
Arethusa Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state of New Hampshire, can be reached year-round via the Arethusa Falls Trail just off route 302 in Crawford Notch State Park. The falls are only 1.6 miles from the trailhead, but the reward at the end for the trail would be worth hiking all day to reach. When the falls are frozen in the bitter cold New Hampshire winter, you may only need to share the insane view with a handful of daring ice climbers. Dress warm and bring snowshoes.
The most popular hikes in southern New Hampshire are Mt. Monadnock and Mt. Kearsarge, but neither holds a candle to the lesser known Lake Solitude, tucked away on the back side of the summit of Mt. Sunapee. As far as high altitude lakes go, it isn’t exactly Titicaca, but the views from the water’s edge and the cliffs overlooking the lake are both spectacular…and prime spots to hang a hammock, I might add. The lake can be reached from the Newbury Trail or the Andrew Brook Trail in Newbury, NH, neither of which are terribly difficult. Solitude is a perfect alternative to the more strenuous 4,000 footers of the White Mountains, particularly if you’re driving up from the Boston area and want to limit your drive to less than two hours. The hike can reasonably be completed in 2-3 hours round-trip and if you don’t like descending mountains and have two vehicles at your disposal, you can take the chairlift down the mountain to the Sunapee parking lot.
Bold Coast Trail
Now we’re getting remote. The Bold Coast Trail is located in Cutler Maine, about a five-hour drive north of Boston and just across the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Be sure to set your phone to airplane mode to avoid international roaming charges, because your carrier will most likely think you’re in Canada…because you pretty much are. The wooded trail runs along the edge of the picturesque cliffs that plunge into the Atlantic, and seals and bald eagles can easily be spotted along the way. There are several areas along the route where the trail descends the cliffs to small coves like the one pictured above. Acadia is the crown jewel of Maine’s scenic coast, but having visited both, we can honestly say that the Bold Coast is superior to any of the coastal hikes in Acadia. It makes for an excellent day or overnight hike, and for those who wish to do the latter, the cliffs are one of the best places you’ll ever camp. There are a few official tent sites in the woods off the trail, but there’s nothing like watching the sunrise over Canada from the edge of a cliff.