There’s no better way to experience New England than on foot. So load up your backpack and hiking shoes—it’s time for a summer road trip that includes some of New England’s finest trails and summits. You’ll wind through country roads, scenic farmlands, and mountain vistas in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, with breaks for maple syrup, swimming holes, and Ben & Jerry’s.
Begin in Boston, Massachusetts. Need camping or hiking gear? Head to Eastern Mountain Sports on Comm Ave, your one-stop shop for all things outdoor gear (they also rent supplies like sleeping bags and tents). Track down the Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food truck for a green muenster sandwich, made with bacon and guacamole, before you hit the road. For a short hike close to the city, plus an American history lesson, take a stroll in Minute Man National Historic Park in nearby Concord, Massachusetts.
Take a break in Montpelier, Vermont, the only state capital in the country without a McDonalds. You can climb the 50-foot-tall rock tower in Hubbard Park for views of downtown or pop in for a jar of golden maple syrup at the family-owned Morse Farm.
Spend a night or two in the college town of Burlington, on the shores of Lake Champlain. Book a vintage-inspired room at the Made Inn Vermont, where rooms come with a record player and a breakfast spread packed with pastries from local bakers. From Burlington, it’s a do-able day trip to hikes in Camel’s Hump State Park or up Vermont’s highest peak, 4,393-foot Mount Mansfield, a classic hike with gorgeous views at the top. At day’s end, enjoy live bluegrass music and a pulled pork and Cabot cheddar crepe at the Skinny Pancake, located on the water’s edge.
You deserve a couple of scoops of Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey. Stop in for a 30-minute factory tour at Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, Vermont, to learn how ice cream is made.
Next, it’s off to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. If you plan ahead, you can book a backcountry hut through the Appalachian Mountain Club. They all require backpacking in, but some are easier to reach than others, like the Lonesome Lake Hut, which is less than 2 miles from the trailhead and has views of Franconia Ridge. Not up for schlepping all your gear? Stay at the country-style Franconia Inn and go for a day hike in Franconia Notch State Park.
Head to Echo Lake State Park, near North Conway, for a sandy beach and a cooling lake swim.
Add this to your bucket list as the grand finale to your trip: A hike up the northeast’s highest peak, 6,288-foot Mount Washington. Sleep in a bunk in the Lake of the Clouds Hut, just below the summit, where you’ll be treated to a hearty meal and the camaraderie of fellow hikers before you tag the summit the next day. It’s about a four-hour drive back to Boston from here.