Best Loop Hikes New Hampshireand39;s White Mountains to the Maine Coast  by Jeffrey Romano

Best Loop Hikes: New Hampshire's White Mountains to the Maine Coast Guide Book

by Jeffrey Romano (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Loop Hikes New Hampshireand39;s White Mountains to the Maine Coast  by Jeffrey Romano
Discover new scenery – every step of the way – with the only guide dedicated to loop hikes in New Hampshire and Maine! Includes: 60 hikes throughout New Hampshire and Maine, from easy half-day trips to extended journeys, many with options to shorten or lengthen the hike; hikes accessible from the most common vacation destinations, including Bar Harbor and Freeport in Maine, and Conway, Lincoln, and the Lakes Region in New Hampshire; and a helpful "Trail Finder" chart lists hikes by features, difficulty, and more. The author hiked over 450 miles throughout New Hampshire and Maine to capture the 60 best loop hikes in the region. From the rolling hills of southern New Hampshire and towering summits of the White Mountains to the remote North Woods and the rocky coastline of Maine, you’ll find trails for hikers of all levels and interests.

© 2006 Jeffrey Romano/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Loop Hikes: New Hampshire's White Mountains to the Maine Coast" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 60.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 60.

This enjoyable half-day adventure leads to the cool, refreshing mist at the base of New Hampshire’s highest falls and to the precarious edge of a 600-foot cliff with breathtaking views of the Saco River Valley. Generally along easy to moderate terrain, the hike’s one steep section becomes a faded memory as wildflowers, moss-covered forests, and choruses of songbirds quickly instill more lasting memories. Complete this hike in conjunction with nearby trails to enjoy a full day of Crawford Notch State Park’s scenic and rugged beauty.
Harts Location, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
The Baldfaces, which rise over 3600 feet in elevation, lie along a ridge nestled between higher and more rugged White Mountain summits and a landscape of farms, lakes, and low, rolling hills. Ravaged by fire in 1903, the mountains’ open ridges provide countless vantage points from which to gaze upon this scenic corner of northern New England and marvel at its many diverse natural features. This full-day hike has significant elevation gain and can be challenging, but for those completing the circuit the rewards are great, and with many trails and potential loops available, the greatest challenge will be scheduling a return trip.
North Chatham, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.7
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A popular destination on the quieter half of Mount Desert Island, this loop over Beech Mountain is two hikes in one. The 2.4-mile trip over Beech Mountain and the 1.4 mile-circuit around Beech and Canada cliffs separately offer expansive views, interesting natural features, and a degree of difficulty that is appropriate for hikers of all ages. Joining them together simply doubles the pleasure. Enjoying the scenery of Mount Desert Island in midsummer or marveling at the diversity of bright autumn colors, hikers will find Beech Mountain and its surrounding cliffs to be a perfect destination from spring to late fall.
Southwest Harbor, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
The most spectacular high-elevation hike in Maine outside of Baxter State Park, the loop over the Bigelow Range is a day-long adventure high above the sprawling expanse of Flagstaff Lake. Once slated to be the next big ski area in New England, Bigelow Mountain and 36,000 acres of surrounding landscapes were permanently protected when Maine voters went to the polls in 1976 and narrowly approved a measure to add the area to the state’s public reserved lands. Thanks to their foresight, today the Bigelow Mountain Preserve is a hiker’s paradise of steep slopes, bountiful wildlife, high-elevation alpine meadows, long, sweeping ridge lines, secluded mountain ponds, maturing actively managed forests, and scenic backcountry campsites.
Bigelow, ME - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 13.2
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Located less than 30 minutes from downtown Ellsworth, the Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land encompasses more than 15,000 acres of lakes, mountains, and forests. Protected in stages with the help of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, and the Land for Maine’s Future Program, the reserved land includes five mountains that exceed 900 feet in elevation, 40 miles of freshwater shoreline, and a 1940-acre ecological reserve managed for scientific research. With a similar geology and topography as Acadia National Park, the area provides outdoor adventurers with comparable opportunities but without the crowds. There are a number of loop hikes from which to choose, from 3-mile hikes to 10-mile journeys. This intermediate-level trip to Black Mountain also provides access to a longer backcountry excursion.
Ellsworth, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.1
Bradbury Mountain State Park is nearly 600 acres of open space within a half-hour’s drive of Portland. Surrounded by a growing and increasingly fast-paced community, Bradbury provides a window into the region’s agrarian past. The mountain, once a stopping place for Native Americans traveling to the ocean, more recently was home to livestock, a vineyard, an inn, small mines, and a ski lift. Today the park is a popular destination for hiking and snowshoeing, as well as mountain biking and horseback riding. With a campground, picnic tables, a small playground, and easy-to-moderate terrain, Bradbury Mountain State Park is a perfect place to bring the whole family for a relaxing outing in the woods any time of year.
Pownal Center, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
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While Mount Katahdin draws much of the attention from Baxter State Park visitors, it is not alone in providing hikers with stunning high-alpine adventures. This loop over the second highest ridge of mountains in the park travels through quiet mountain forests and up slide-scarred slopes to reach barren summits with 360-degree views of the lakes and mountains of Maine’s north woods. While not as difficult as Mount Katahdin, this challenging hike is a perfect option for those seeking solitude; its beauty is largely overlooked because of its neighbor.
Millinocket, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.9
Caribou Mountain, with its indistinct profile and modest elevation, is a summit often overlooked by observers from nearby destinations. While easily overlooked from a distance, the mountain begs your attention up close. From the open summit tremendous views spread out in all directions, and wildlife abounds throughout the forests that blanket its slopes. Each spring, while higher peaks remain buried in snow and ice, Caribou Mountain is carpeted with wildflowers, its waterfalls crashing with fury. By late September the hardwood-laden forest is a rainbow of yellows, purples, reds, and oranges. Between seasons, the beauty of the mountain is more subtle but no less impressive.
Hastings, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.9
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Not only does this loop ascend the tenth highest peak in New England, it does so by following two trails that are far less traveled than others reaching the same destination. Throw in some quiet mountain streams, an unnamed bald summit south of Carter Dome, and breathtaking views above the cliffs of Carter Notch to complete a rewarding day-long adventure in the White Mountains. For fewer bugs, easier river crossings, and optimum daylight, choose this hike midsummer through early fall.
Jackson, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.9
A short trail weaves through an illustrative collection of native plant species found on Mount Desert Island. To the left of a small nature center, follow the 0.4-mile path that leads to the Tarn. At the north shore of the small pond, turn left, cross Route 3, and join the Beachcroft Trail as it gradually switchbacks up the steep slope. The footing here consists of a series of flat stones laid out perfectly, one example of the fine stonework and trail maintenance in evidence throughout the park, thanks to many decades of trail stewardship. Looking back as you ascend, you’ll see below the clear blue waters of the Tarn reflecting the rugged east face of Dorr Mountain. Circling around Huguenot Head, a small peak on the ridge, the 1.1-mile trail descends to a saddle before climbing steeply up rock ledges to the summit of Champlain Mountain. Heading west down the Gorham Mountain Trail, quickly reach the Cadillac Cliffs Trail on the left. This interesting route weaves around a series of rock faces once submerged beneath the sea.
Bar Harbor, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
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This classic loop hike contains a splash of many things people associate with the White Mountains: history, waterfalls, panoramic views, dizzying heights, a relaxing ridge walk, and two 4000-foot mountains. Mounts Pierce, Jackson, and Webster have been favorite destinations for nearly two centuries. Choose this hike and you will quickly understand why people continue to be drawn to this area twelve months a year.
Bretton Woods, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
While Maine is famous for its rugged coastline, from June to September many of the most scenic spots are overrun with visitors. To the contrary, the 12,000 acre Cutler Coast Public Reserve, located along Maine’s less traveled Bold Coast, offers crowd-free viewing of nearly 5 miles of ocean scenery as spectacular as any other stretch in Maine and beyond. Protected by the state in the 1990s with the help of Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Land for Maine’s Future Program, the Cutler Coast is a land of rugged, rocky cliffs where cool temperatures sail in on refreshing sea breezes even during the hottest weeks of the summer. The reserve offers hikers two loop options, a 5.8-mile and a 10-mile journey, as well as three primitive campsites for overnight adventures. Whether half-day, full-day, or multiple-day, a sojourn to the Cutler Coast is a memorable opportunity to spot whales, moose, and countless species of birds.
Cutler, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
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With more than 500 acres and over 8000 feet of frontage on the tidal waters of the Damariscotta River, the Dodge Point Public Reserve is a four-season family destination where New England’s ever-changing scenery is on constant display. In addition to natural beauty, Dodge Point showcases human history, including an old mill site and brickyard, cellar holes and rock walls, and stands of large trees grown under the watchful eyes of a small woodlot owner whose trustees sold the land to the state in 1989. The preserve is a perfect location for a short, leisurely hike. Better yet, extend the day, pack a lunch, and take advantage of the many picnic locations along the shore. With waterfowl diving, seals foraging, and cool breezes blowing, the peaceful surroundings will send you home refreshed whichever option you choose.
Wiscasset, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This loop leads to the highest point on America’s east coast and the most comprehensive view of Acadia National Park. Before scaling Cadillac Mountain, the journey includes a scenic climb up and over the bald summit of Dorr Mountain and a short scramble through a narrow notch that picturesquely frames the distant ocean. The return trek winds down a flat, open ridge, passes a long a series of cascades and flumes, and concludes near the edge of a wetland teeming with wildlife. The hike, 6.5 miles in length, has significant elevation change and a couple of rugged sections to ensure that you earn all of the many rewards along the way.
Acadia National Park, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
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Hugging the shores of a winding salmon river, the loop through the Ducktrap section of the Camden Hills State Park is a relaxing stroll through a nicely forested landscape. The loop circles a property dissected with a number of trails that offer numerous short- and medium-length options. The Ducktrap River area is a popular destination year-round, luring many cross-country skiers in the winter, bird-watchers in the spring and summer, and leaf-peepers in early autumn.
Slab City, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
Like most destinations in Franconia Notch, Mounts Flume and Liberty are very popular and very scenic. Some visitors surprisingly choose to scale these two peaks via the Liberty Spring Trail only, but the best option is a loop that includes a scramble up the Flume Slide Trail. Varying terrain along the way pleasantly shifts from bubbling mountain brooks to changing forest scenery. The views from both summits are quite impressive, each peak showcasing the higher summits to the north as well as the deep valleys and notches far below. With year-round access, this hike is possible any time of year. For the more adventurous, complete the described loop in reverse when snow levels are high for an enjoyable ride down the Flume Slide.
Lincoln, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.9
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Finding solitude in Franconia Notch can be difficult. Its beauty and accessibility have resulted in many well-trodden trails. Fortunately, there are still less-traveled locations in the Notch to explore. This loop visits popular destinations. However, it also passes through Franconia Notch’s quieter places, where thick spruce forests cast shadows over cascading mountain streams and darting critters escape to dark cavities hidden in gnarled yellow birches. From the parking area, follow the signs leading to the Basin, a smooth, round rock the river continues to carve on its journey to the sea. Many interesting features are displayed, including Kinsman Falls at 0.4 mile and Rocky Glen Falls at 0.9 mile. Near the trail’s halfway point, a brook crossing provides a small challenge, but rocks are present for assistance.
Lincoln, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
Probably the most popular high-elevation loop hike in the White Mountains, the Franconia Range is not a destination for solitude, especially on summer weekends, but it is a place of spectacular beauty. While its popularity may suggest otherwise, the loop over Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette is strenuous and very demanding. The hike’s rewards, however, greatly exceed its challenge. In addition to a series of scenic mountain cascades, the summits of two towering 5000-foot mountains, and panoramic views throughout the day, this excursion in Franconia Notch State Park includes one of the finest alpine ridges in all of New England.
Lincoln, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.8
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Straddling the Maine–New Hampshire border along the wild and rugged Mahoosuc Range, Goose Eye Mountain’s barren summit has lured hikers for many years. From atop this 3790-foot peak there are few views in western Maine that are finer. Traditionally reached via two enjoyable trails located on the Success Pond Road (a logging road that begins in Berlin, New Hampshire), this destination now has a third and more scenic option, constructed by the state of Maine in the 1990s. With two branches, the Wright Trail journeys across many diverse and dramatic landscapes, including an old-growth spruce-fir forest, an outstanding rocky ridge, a cascading mountain stream, and a glacier-scoured cirque.
Ketchum, ME - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 9.5
Cascading streams tumbling down rocky mountain slopes serve as the backdrop for two short loops that together offer a nice half-day of hiking to the Eyebrow and Table Rock, scenic ledges in Maine’s Grafton Notch. Each loop can be hiked individually as a shorter trip, and each can be extended by more than 5 miles to include one-way trips to the highest peaks in the region. For those looking for a multiple-day adventure, these same features can be visited along a brand-new 42-mile loop trail. Whatever your pleasure, Grafton Notch is a welcome addition to any hiking itinerary.
Ketchum, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.9
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