The best hikes in New England provide a stunning backdrop with varying terrain sure to beckon any outdoor enthusiast. Steeped in colonial history, the beautifully rustic Atlantic coast and the variety of mountain landscapes coupled with proximity to vibrant cities, New England is a nature lover’s dream.
Taste wild blueberries in Maine, observe city skylines from nearby mountain tops, get sprayed by the Atlantic Ocean while gazing at rocky beach coves, and discover hidden forest swimming holes.
With trails for every type of hiker, classic New England charm is waiting to be explored. Break out your hiking gear and make the most out of the northeastern USA’s outdoor playground with one of the best hikes in New England.
Middlesex Fells Reservation, Stoneham (Boston Area)
North Boston’s neighborhood of Stoneham is home to numerous trails within this sizable state park chock full of hills, wetlands, forests, and ponds. Quick access from the city center makes this a well-known outdoor destination in the Boston area.
Hiking trails cater to all levels of difficulty here. If you’re looking for an easier walk, try the Reservoir Trail, a wide, flat 5.7-mile loop trail skirting several reservoirs in the park.
For something more challenging, embark on the Skyline Loop Trail, a 7.6-mile hike where you’ll be gifted panoramic views of the city after a solid uphill workout through wooded areas and lakes. Climb the spiral staircase of Bear Hill Tower, built in the early 1900s, which provides excellent views with just a quick additional one-mile loop trail.
Other than 100 miles of diverse trails for hiking, Middlesex Fells Reservation is a popular location for biking, boating, and fishing.
Beech Cliff Trail, Mount Desert (Bar Harbor Area)
If Acadia National Park is on your list, let this be the hike to sample a taste of Maine’s wilderness in the western section of the park.
Beech Cliff Trail is one in a group of ladder trails. Climbing up iron rungs in some sections of the hike, combined with dense forest and rock slides, make for an obstacle course lover’s dream.
Views of Long Pond, the Cranberry Isles, and Echo Lake will dazzle. If you’re feeling energetic, continue on a touch further to discover the fire tower on the top of Beech Mountain.
For a more relaxed trek down (without the ladders), you can veer onto the Canada Cliffs Trail for a diverse loop just under two miles. Cool off post-hike with a dip in Echo Lake—you earned it.
Fort Adams Bay Trail, Newport
This historical coastal fort site is host to a 2.2-mile loop trail designed for walking and relaxing. As one of the biggest fortresses in North America, it’s not just a National Historic Landmark, but also has some of the best views in Newport.
The harbor, Newport Bridge, the Atlantic Ocean, and fort architecture are some of the main highlights. One of the best times to explore this path is as the sun is setting with sailboats bobbing in the water while the sky resembles a painting.
Mount Agamenticus, York (Portland Area)
Portland serves as a fantastic jumping-off point for some fantastic New England hikes without having to travel too far. The Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region combines the coast and forest with several trails for hiking and biking. Try the popular Ring Trail or the Big A Trail that circles at the summit.
Due to the network of paths, it’s possible to tailor the length of your hike to your preference while experiencing a few different trails. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the 360-degree views over the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding mountains.
Battle Road Trail, Lexington (Boston Area)
If you’re in search of a dose of history while you walk, this five-mile trail is here to exercise your educational muscles. Going from Concord to Lincoln (or vice versa), you’ll encounter a visitor center at the Minute Man National Historical Park and other historical markers along the way.
Start in Lexington so you can read the information at the visitor’s center before starting your walk. The route follows the same path that 700 British soldiers traversed during the first battle of the American Revolution on April 19th, 1775.
You will see a monument that represents where Paul Revere was captured, the Captain William Smith House, the Hartwell Tavern, as well as many other historic remnants along the way. It’s a classic way to spend a day in Boston.
Cadillac Mountain, Mount Desert (Bar Harbor Area)
Every year, people hike to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in Acadia National Park just 20 minutes outside of Bar Harbor, to watch the sunrise from the summit. From October to March, it’s the first place to see those initial rays in the United States, making it one of the most memorable New England hikes. Watch the day begin as first light illuminates the Atlantic Ocean in nearby Frenchman’s Bay and the Porcupine Islands just offshore.
There are three options you can choose from when hiking Cadillac Mountain, depending on the level of difficulty you prefer. The North Ridge Trail is 4.4 miles round trip and less strenuous than the South Ridge Trail, which presents a challenging 7.4 miles.
Alternatively, you can choose to drive to the top and walk the half-mile summit loop trail for a more relaxed experience while taking in the panorama.
Spring Point Shoreway, South Portland
Start at Willard Beach in South Portland for an easy one-mile walk to the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Historical highlights along the route include Fort Preble in addition to the lighthouse, both dating back to the 1800s.
Relish in New England sea air as you walk the waterfront with views of Casco Bay, Cape Elizabeth, nearby islands, marina, and the Portland cityscape. Pack a picnic lunch to bring with you afterward to enjoy at Bug Light Park next door.
World’s End, Hingham (Boston Area)
Just 15 miles south of Boston’s bustling city center, Hingham Harbor’s nature preserve refreshes visitors with an ocean breeze. World’s End is a peninsula that features rocky New England beaches and salt marshes and is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.
This conservation site may be small, but still manages to present approximately five miles of both gravel and mowed grass walking trails for your enjoyment.
Newport Cliff Walk, Newport
If you prefer your promenade with a side of stately mansion, then the Newport Cliff Walk is for you. This 3.5-mile coastal path weaves along the impossibly beautiful Rhode Island coastline with a good mix of paved and dirt trails.
If you can tear your gaze away from the Atlantic Ocean, there are several impressive mansions to admire, including The Breakers, Marble House, and Rosecliff. The trail spans First Beach to Bailey’s Beach, but it’s possible to do just a short section of the path tailored to the length you’d like, as there are a handful of entry points along the way.
Make sure to check out the iconic Forty Steps, a popular and historic stop along the walk that brings you close to the water. This is a fantastic family-friendly activity and one of the top things to do in Newport.
Burnt Meadow Mountain, Brownfield (Portland Area)
About an hour outside of Portland, you’ll find Burnt Meadow Mountain trailhead, one of the best hikes in New England. This 3.6-mile round-trip hike is also known as the North Peak Trail and provides a fun trek with rocky switchbacks, brooks, ledges, and vast views at the peak.
At the open summit, you’ll be rewarded with views of New Hampshire’s famous White Mountain Range, and potentially even Mount Washington on a clear day. Take the Twin Brook Trail on the descent for a different, easier route down. After your outdoor climb, cool off with a swim in the refreshing Burnt Meadow Pond.
Mount Misery, Lincoln (Boston Area)
Don’t let the name throw you off—this under two-mile hike in the town of Lincoln isn’t too tough. Once at the small summit, you’ll be presented with views of Fairhaven Bay and the nearby Sudbury River.
The short length and relatively quick and easy ascent to the top make this a great family-friendly option for hiking. Combine this walk with a visit to the iconic Walden Pond to maximize this short day trip from Boston, which is only about a half an hour from the city.
Pigeon Hill Preserve, Steuben (Bar Harbor Area)
This historic nature preserve, located about an hour outside of Bar Harbor, offers a 1.6-mile trail leading to the summit of Pigeon Hill, where you’ll score panoramic views of the Black Mountains, Cadillac Mountain, and surrounding islands.
Remnants of an abandoned silver mine dating back to the 1800s add a bit of history to this hike. Veer onto a short side trail to see a glacier boulder as well. In the summer season, you might even find some fresh blueberries to pick as a summit treat!
Mackworth Island, Portland
The rugged southern coast of Maine beckons with exciting outdoor opportunities. If walking through a real-life Maine postcard complete with adorable cottages on a gorgeous island sounds like the perfect New England hike, then Mackworth Island is the place to go.
This spot of land just north of Portland is a well-known bird sanctuary featuring an idyllic island loop trail to enjoy views of Casco Bay and its rocky beaches. The trail’s accessibility makes it a well-rounded walk for visitors to absorb the Maine coastal experience.
Beavertail State Park, Jamestown (Newport Area)
This lovely waterside park overlooking Narragansett Bay on the island of Jamestown is the perfect place to walk, fish, picnic, and explore tide pools in picturesque coves. Stretch your legs on the Beavertail Trail, a 2.3-mile loop that allows you to take in the beautiful sights.
The historic 1800s lighthouse of the same name makes for a picture-perfect postcard. If possible, plan your visit around sunset for an elevated New England outdoor experience.
Blue Hills Reservation, Milton (Boston Area)
To capture Boston’s skyline, head up Great Blue Hill, just 15 minutes outside of the city center. A 7,000-acre park is host to this popular hill with many other trails to choose from for every level of hiker.
Most of these hikes start at the Trailside Museum in Milton. For a quick, simple hike with great views, try the Chickatawbut Trail. For a plethora of panoramic views and a longer trek, the 7.6-mile Blue Hills Skyline Loop is a solid choice. Old stone fencing, streams, cliffs, and, of course, the city views are mixed into this well-rounded trail.
Gorham Mountain Trail, Bar Harbor
This 1.8-mile, well-marked trail starts just past the natural spectacle of Thunder Hole. Don’t be fooled by the false summit, which provides stunning views of Baker Island, Otter Cliff, and Cranberry Isles—there’s still a bit more to go. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Beehive, and Otter Cliff.
For a longer day of hiking, consider adding on the contrasting Ocean Path Trail, an easy walk starting at Sand Beach that offers the perfect mix of mountain and ocean surroundings.
Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge, Tiverton (Newport Area)
The Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge offers four trails (two loop trails) that hug the Sakonnet River and will have you wandering through the tidal salt marsh spotting bird species like egrets, glossy ibis, and ospreys. Located just a half-hour from Newport, it’s easily accessible for a quick trip.
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