Best Beginner Backpacking Trips in New England

New England hiking and backpacking

Photograph by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

New England typically will get painted as a land of suburban sprawl, bustling visitors, and secluded previous vacationer cities. Nonetheless, this interpretation fails to say the distant wilderness, glowing mountain lakes, and rugged peaks. In any case, New England is the out of doors recreation hub of the Northeastern United States — and for good purpose. 

New England presents spectacular backpacking alternatives, from the Inexperienced Mountains of Vermont to the coast of Maine. These backpacking journeys are even higher as a consequence of New England’s unbelievable entry. Even probably the most distant elements of the Northern White Mountains are solely a three-hour drive from Boston.Thus, hikes of all problem ranges can be found to tens of millions of people that stay within the area.

Unsure the place to begin? We bought you lined. We’ve got compiled an inventory of 5 of the perfect newbie backpacking journeys in New England. Every of those treks has a lot to supply new and veteran backpackers alike. You may customise every itinerary to suit your wants; most of the hikes listed under have alternate routes, short-cuts, or skippable sections that help you select your individual journey.

All the time keep in mind to hike your individual hike and make any modifications it’s essential meet your ability degree, gear, timeline, or private targets. In any case, backpacking is supposed to be enjoyable! 

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how to decide on an applicable path

Whereas every new backpacker is getting into into the game with a distinct set of expertise and health ranges, we’ve crafted an inventory of journeys with all newbie backpackers in thoughts. These journeys match just a few standards:

  1. You’ll hike comparatively low mileage for the size of the journey.
  2. The paths don’t have excessive elevation achieve for the area (Nonetheless, Washington mountains are recognized for being steep and rugged as a result of intense quantity of rainfall, so you possibly can’t escape elevation achieve right here!) 
  3. You’ll journey on well-maintained trails and keep away from difficult terrain like boulder fields. 
  4. You’ll get a number of bang to your buck, whether or not within the type of peaks, alpine lakes, or lush meadows. (Many individuals neglect this significant issue.)

Nonetheless, backpacking is rarelysimple(or else we’d by no means do it!)— so,  if you wish to maximize your enjoyable, be sure you prepare to your backpacking journey.

1. Little Rock Pond, Inexperienced Mountain Nationwide Forest, Vermont

Little Rock Pond, Long Trail Vermont

Photograph by Jacob Deutsch

Mileage:4.8 (out-and-back) – 10 (loop)| Size:2 – 3 days | Elevation Acquire/Loss:500 – 3000 ft

Little Rock Pond is a crystal blue gem tucked within the coronary heart of the Inexperienced Mountains the place the long-lasting Lengthy Path (which coincides with the Appalachian Path) runs alongside the japanese fringe of the pond. Little Rock is residence to a improbable shelter (that sleeps a whopping 16 folks!) with a full-time warden and loads of tent or hammock websites. In your solution to the pond, you’ll hike up a well-maintained path till you see the shimmering gentle of the solar bouncing off the mild waves of Little Rock Pond.

Why is it nice for a newbie?

This path is extraordinarily accessible and has a reasonable grade, making it the proper place to shake down your gear, expertise, and luxury degree. If that is your first journey otherwise you’re on the lookout for a brief in a single day you possibly can hike 2.4 miles to the shelter and again. At this widespread shelter, you’ll be surrounded by different hikers and have a straightforward bail again to your automobile should you ever really feel uncomfortable.

As well as, Little Rock presents tons of alternatives to customise your hike. If you wish to sort out some additional miles after an evening on the shelter, you possibly can hike up the Inexperienced Mountain Path and tack on an additional 4.5 miles (and 2000ish ft of elevation) earlier than you loop again to your car. Wish to go even additional? Comply with the LT/AT in both path and spend a further evening at one of many adjoining shelters. The alternatives listed here are limitless.

logistics and permits

The Massive Department car parking zone, which is true throughout from the trailhead, is the proper start line for this journey since you are allowed to park right here in a single day. Simply make sure that to not park on the Massive Department Lookout (which is a couple of quarter-mile down the highway), as that car parking zone is day use solely.

One advantage of climbing in Inexperienced Mountain Nationwide Forest is that you simply don’t want permits to camp in a single day. If crowded shelters aren’t your jam, you possibly can dispersed camp alongside the path so long as you observeLNT principles. For those who cease by the shelter, the warden may even offer you some recommendations on the place to seek out the prime tenting spots. If you’re planning to remain within the shelter, deliver $5 in money to provide to the warden upon arrival.

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2. Brush Mountain Conservation Space to Royalston Falls, New England Path, Massachusetts

NET Trail in Massachusetts

Photograph by Jacob Deutsch

Mileage:20 miles point-to-point | Size:3 – 4 days | Elevation Acquire/Loss:3,700 ft

Northern Massachusetts is a hidden gem stuffed with fantastic climbing alternatives. From the Appalachian Path (AT) within the west to the New England Path (NET) & Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock (M-M-M) path techniques within the east, the state options a number of the finest climbing inside two hours of a serious US metro space. This hike, which encompasses sections 17 and 18 of the NET, winds via lovely old-growth forest, providing up unparalleled north-facing views into Vermont and New Hampshire. On this extraordinarily accessible wilderness expertise, you’ll additionally hike previous waterfalls, keep in lovely shelters, and climb fireplace towers with seemingly endless views. After I thru-hiked the 220-mile NET earlier this yr, this part was by far my favourite.

Why is it nice for a newbie?

This portion of NET is well-graded, often marked, and has a number of the most unbelievable shelters I’ve seen (with severely beautiful views). All of those components pair as much as make it an ideal newbie hike. This part of the NET can be a lot much less rocky/rooty than most of the earlier sections. 

It’s also an ideal weekend/lengthy weekend hike.  You may hike just a few miles to the Richard-Zlogar cabin and be rewarded with a view of Mt. Grace (the place you’ll be staying the next evening) and Mt. Monadnock. The following day, you’ll push a bit tougher to get to the Mount Grace lean-to, however your legs will likely be warmed up and prepared for the problem. On the third day, you’ll spherical out your backpacking journey with a brief hike to Royalston Falls on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. Right here, you possibly can both keep the evening or hike two miles again to the trailhead. 

logistics and permits

Dispersed tenting shouldn’t be allowed on the NET, as a lot of it runs alongside non-public property. So, it’s important to use the shelters, however most of them have tent websites close by should you desire sleeping underneath the celebrities. 

Every in a single day shelter alongside the NET has its personal algorithm. Some require reservations and charges, whereas others can be found totally free on a first-come-first-served foundation. All the time make sure that to verify theNET websitefor details about in a single day stays, as they frequently replace the general public on path/shelter closures.

As this can be a point-to-point hike, you will have to rearrange transportation from one finish to the opposite. There will likely be restricted (or extra doubtless non-existent) Lyft/Uber service. Due to this fact, you will have to rearrange a shuttle or take two automobiles and park one at every trailhead.

3. Cutler Coast and Inland Trails, Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, Maine

Cutler Coast trail in Maine, great beginner backpacking destination

Photograph by OakleyOriginals (CC BY 2.0)

Mileage:11-mile loop | Size:2 – 3 days | Elevation Acquire/Loss:1000 ft

The Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land in Maine offers hikers with a very New England climbing expertise. Its distant seashores and beautiful ocean vistas rival that of Acadia. Backpackers of all ranges will benefit from the seaside cliffs, whale watching, and beachfront backcountry tenting.

Why is it nice for a newbie?

If you may get to northern Maine, this path is a memorable beginner-friendly possibility. Northern Maine is likely one of the most distant locations within the decrease 48, so this journey will give rookies a real wilderness expertise – although you’ll by no means be greater than 5 miles from the trailhead car parking zone. 

This path additionally options minimal elevation achieve, so it’s the proper reprieve for newer hikers who wish to take a look at out a full-weight pack for the primary time.

logistics and permits

This loop offers simple parking/transportation logistics for these prepared to make the journey to Northern Maine. You do not want a allow to go to the Cutler Coast Path, and there aren’t any charges to make use of the backcountry campsites. Nonetheless, this space solely has 5 first-come-first-served backcountry campsites, and also you’ll want to remain in one in all them. (No dispersed tenting allowed!) So plan forward and get to camp early sufficient to say a spot. Additionally, potable water shouldn’t be obtainable at camp. Be sure you pack sufficient water to your journey and plan your backpacking meals accordingly.

4. Excessive Peaks of the Pemigewasset Hut-to-Hut Trek, White Mountains, New Hampshire

White Mountains in New Hampshire

Mileage:15+ point-to-point  | Size: 2 – 4 days | Elevation Acquire/Loss:3,300 ft

The White Mountains supply a number of the most rugged and scenic climbing obtainable east of the Rockies, and the Pemigewasset (“Pemi”) is the most important designated wilderness within the White Mountains, so it positive has loads to supply. Are you seeking to hike in a pristine wilderness stuffed with wildlife? You are able to do it within the Pemi. Do you wish to keep at a tremendous hut system? The Pemi has dozens of them. Searching for all kinds of problem ranges and lengths in potential backpacking journeys? The Pemi has tons of of trails to discover. On the Excessive Peaks of the Pemigewasset Hut-to-Hut trek, you’ll observe the Appalachian Path throughout a number of the most iconic peaks within the vary – South Twin and Mt. Guyot.


It is a nice hike for any backpacker constructing as much as a thru-hike. You’ll get into the wilderness for a number of nights, achieve some expertise on the AT, and have the chance to check out your gear system on one of the crucial rugged sections of the AT. As well as, the Pemi hut-to-hut trek shouldn’t be one formal path however relatively a connection of trails. So, you’ll have the chance to develop your individual itinerary and refine your planning and route-building expertise. 

The total-fledged hut system offers you with a lot flexibility. You may break down the hike into manageable chunks, and primarily based on hut areas, you’ll by no means have to go greater than 5 to seven miles in someday. Belief us, you gained’t remorse taking your time on this spectacular hike.


At many of the trailheads alongside the route, you will have to pay for a day-use recreation go. Don’t worry although, the day passes are solely $5 (or you should buy theannual WMNF recreation passfor $30). 

If you’re planning on using the companies obtainable on the huts, you will have to order forward of time with theAppalachian Mountain Club. Honest warning, these huts may be costly (as much as $120 an evening) so it’s extremely really useful to e book forward and use your Appalachian Mountain Membership membership to get a reduction. For many who desire to maintain prices down, backcountry tenting within the Pemigewasset Wilderness is free so long as you observe LNT rules. 

For those who’re climbing unguided, you will have to rearrange a shuttle as this can be a point-to-point hike. You’ll find loads of info on-line that can assist you plan and put together to your hike, nevertheless, information books are additionally glorious sources. Whereas any information targeted on the NH part of the AT will work, the AMC’sWhite Mountain Informationis the final word repository of details about the Whites. It’s going to give you all the knowledge you want about water sources, parking tons (and overflow parking tons), and the hut system.

Guided Journey Choices

Wildland Trekking presents this Excessive Peaks Hut to Hut Trekas a guided backpacking journey. This guided journey provides you with entry to professional guides, gear, meals, transportation — every part a newbie may need! Because the White Mountains are recognized for being rugged and arduous to strategy as a newbie,  this guided journey could be the proper solution to dip your toes into this distinctive mountain vary.

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5. Stratton Mountain and Pond Loop, Inexperienced Mountain Nationwide Forest, Vermont

Stratton Pond in Vermont

Photograph by John Hayes (CC BY 2.0)

Mileage:11-mile loop | Size:2 – 3 days | Elevation Acquire/Loss:2,000 ft

Stratton Mountain is likely one of the most iconic peaks in Vermont. Sitting at 3944’, it simplybarelymisses out on the elusive 4000-foot designation. Don’t let this deter you: the fireplace tower on the peak offers the perfect 360-degree view in Vermont. 

The Stratton Mountain and Pond Loop is the proper solution to expertise all of the glory that backpacking in southern Vermont has to supply. On day one, the six-mile hike to Stratton Pond is mild and full of lovely hardwood forest strolling. When you arrive on the pond, you possibly can spend the evening proper on its shores should you keep on the Stratton View Tenting Space which, because the title suggests, encompasses a killer view of the height.) The following day, you’ll proceed your hike in the direction of the summit. Whereas the climb up Stratton is pretty steep — 1500 ft over roughly two miles — you’ll be rewarded with a surprising view throughout southern Vermont and the choice to climb the fireplace tower for much more expansive surroundings.


This loop provides you with a style of wilderness in a managed setting. As this hike is a loop, you’ll by no means be too distant out of your car do you have to run into inclement climate or notice you left some gear within the trunk. As well as, you possibly can simply broaden this path to create an extended journey. Simply two miles to the west of Stratton Pond is Bourne Pond, which has two further tenting areas. For those who don’t wish to dispersed camp (which is completely allowed in Inexperienced Mountain Nationwide Forest), this pond is the proper vacation spot to increase your backpacking journey.

Whereas different elements of the Inexperienced Mountains are extraordinarily distant, the Stratton area is extraordinarily accessible and pretty well-trafficked. Regardless of that, you’ll nonetheless get the identical wilderness immersion and expertise a number of the finest climbing trails within the east. 


Inexperienced Mountain Nationwide Forest permits hikers to dispersed camp permit-free so long as you observe LNT rules, so the sleeping choices listed here are just about limitless. As well as, the car parking zone is well accessible (for southern Vermont) and has no in a single day charge. Water is plentiful alongside the loop, so simply deliver a filtration system!

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