Hikers can come up with dozens of reasons why they love to get out on the trail. But when a long trek leads to a perfect postcard view that goes on forever—well, it’s tough to beat. Thankfully New England is blessed with a number of mountain ranges that offer a variety of hikes—from easily accessible to quite challenging—that feature spectacular views for those willing to do some climbing.
Of course, in addition to the climbing, those mountain views come with an additional challenge—the weather. You can expect high winds atop the mountain peaks, and severe storms can pop up quickly. Wearing multiple layers is a good idea, and a windproof, soft-shell jacket is a smart thing to bring along on any trip. Make sure to check the weather before exposing yourself to the elements.
1. Mount Washington | New Hampshire
Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New England at 6,288 feet, is perhaps even better known for its high winds. The highest wind speed ever recorded at the Mt. Washington Observatory was 231 mph, still the world record for the fastest wind not involving a tropical cyclone.
The Presidential Traverse is the most challenging hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, as it hits every peak in the Presidential Range over the course of 23 miles and more than 9,000 feet of elevation change. Most hikers go north to south, with the toughest climbs early, starting at Mt. Madison, 5,367 feet, and finishing at Mt. Jackson, 4,052 feet. (Mt. Washington is in the middle.) This is obviously for experienced hikers with a significant amount of outdoor experience. But if you’re up for the challenge, this hike is almost entirely above the tree line, offering amazing views for nearly the entire route.