At this time last year, I was hauling 60 pounds of turkey, veggies, and lettuce up the Old Bridal Path on my way to Greenleaf Hut, as part of my fifth season with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s High Huts. My fellow hut “croo” and I were lucky enough to have a front row seat for New England’s premier leaf-peeping show, as the leaves changed from luscious greens to fiery oranges, yellows and reds. So when I feel the first chilly gust and see the first hints of gold in the mountains, I’m awash with a bit of nostalgia for the trail.
And there’s only one remedy: hit the trails again.
As a native New Hampshirite, I’ve grown up hiking all over the state, but have spent most of my time in the beautiful White Mountains. Hiking in the Whites is great at any point in the year, but it is just exceptional when the temps drop and the off season begins, seemingly leaving entire mountains to be explored alone. Hey, out-of-towners, we love you, we really do. But you can’t blame a girl for wanting the mountains entirely to herself.
Hence the inspiration for this little piece: the Hiker’s Autumn-in-New-England Bucket List. There’s an adventure for every ability and taste, and here are three of my favorites.
1. For You Hardcore Types:Take a hike up the Wildcats. Made up of three summits, creatively known as A, B, and C, this hike is underrated and lightly traveled. Carter Notch is one of the best kept secrets of the White Mountains (shh, don’t tell), offering some of the most rugged terrain and an insane grade. You’ll get stunning views of the Northern Presidentials and the Carter Notch Range. The secluded location is great for someone looking to get away from the crowds, but be warned, this is NOT for the beginner hiker. Its remote location, lack of reliable water supply, and sheer elevation makes this hike only fit for the prepared, well-traveled hiker.
On your way home after a long day, make sure to grab a bite and a drink at the numerous local breweries and restaurants in the North Country! Some of our favorites are Thompson House Eatery and The Moat. Go ahead, you earned that pan roasted Monkfish.
2. For a Medium-Sized Challenge:Take a hike up one of New Hampshire’s classic peaks: Mt. Chocorua. This peak is amazing for so many reasons. It’s located just south of the White Mountain region, so you can get from the seacoast to the trail in no time. There’s plenty of exposure above treeline for amazing summit views of the White Mountains. The Champney Falls Trail is probably the gentlest way to reach the summit, with awesome waterfall stops along the way. This is a great place to go with friends and kiddos who are up for a bit more of a challenge.
Make sure to grab a bite and a cup of coffee from the Lyceum in Tamworth, or swing by the Distillery just down the road. These spots offer a great local, quaint New England vibe, with good eats, and delicious spirits.
3. When It’s a Family Affair:Head on up Mount Major for some panoramic views of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. This popular hike is an awesome introduction to the state’s higher summits. It’s a pleasant jaunt for some amazing views, and it’s a great hike for all ages. This is a popular hike, so make sure to get to the trailhead early in order to get to the summit before the crowds. If you’d prefer something a little more mellow, take a drive to Pawtuckaway State Park in southern New Hampshire. The park boasts tons of trails, a hike to a fire tower for views, and great lakes to take a cooling dip after a great day exploring the woods.
The season is brilliant and short, so grab your boots and get hiking! See you out there!
NEMO’s Emily Balch is one of the friendly experts who help you out when you call us. When she’s not crushing trails, she enjoys over-caffeinating, and persuading friends and family to taste test newly invented baked goods.