Snowshoe Routes New England  by Diane Bair & Pamela Wright

Snowshoe Routes: New England

by Diane Bair & Pamela Wright (The Mountaineers Books)
Snowshoe Routes New England  by Diane Bair & Pamela Wright
Snowshoe Routes: New England takes you to 72 scenic winter trails in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, the Green Mountains in Vermont, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Acadia National Park in Maine, and everywhere in between. You’ll visit snow-covered woods, rolling farm country, frozen waterfalls and lakes, challenging peaks, and so much more. Includes: 72 snowshoe routes in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine; outings ranging from beginner to expert; trails that are easily accessible from New England, including Boston, MA; Hartford, CT; Providence, RI; Burlington, VT; Concord, NH; & Portland, ME; a handy trip-planning chart identifies trails that have historic features, are family-friendly, expose you to birds and wildlife; and information on snowshoe-friendly accommodations, backcountry huts, and guided snowshoe trips.

© 2006 Diane Bair and Pamela Wright/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Snowshoe Routes: New England" Guide Book
72 Trail Guides

The lusty, briny smell of the sea, the sounds of honking geese, the sight of a soaring eagle, and stunning water views may greet you on this wintry walk along spectacular Great Bay. There are a couple of narrow, steep spots along the water’s edge, but generally this is a short, easy hike, perfect for young and old. Adams Point is a jutting peninsula on Great Bay, where freshwater rivers and ocean tides converge in a picturesque, pristine basin. The 80-acre site divides Little Bay to the north and Great Bay to the south. Much of the surrounding land is protected as part of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Including about 4500 acres of tidal waters and wetlands and 3000 acres of coastal land. The estuary is refuge for twenty-three species of threatened or endangered animals and plants, including the common tern and osprey. The refuge also supports a winter population of about a dozen bald eagles. There’s an eagle-watching platform at Adams Point; if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one of these magnificent birds of prey as you snowshoe along the trail.
Newington, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3
Yes, this little jaunt in the Notch gets a fair amount of traffic; tons of tourists clamor up its path in the summer. Even during the harsh winter months, you probably won’t have the trail to yourself. But there are good reasons why this trip is so popular-and why it should be on your winter must-do list. For starters, it’s a relatively short hike, easily doable in half a day. It’s located in the popular and scenic Crawford Notch State Park. And, did we mention that it leads to the Granite State’s tallest waterfall? Besides a view of frozen falls and crystal cascades, you may see another spectacle; ice climbers working their way up the icy walls. Arethusa Falls, and nearby Ripley Falls and soaring Frankenstein Cliff are hot spots for New Hampshire’s cold-climate climbers. Also, if you’re looking to expand your snowshoe trip, there are plenty of options with several connecting trails leading to Ripley Falls, Frankenstein Cliff and beyond.
Harts Location, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.6
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We’ve classified this hike up Bald Mountain and around Artists Bluff in Franconia Notch State Park as easy. The distance is short, and the elevation gain of 340 feet is gradual and easy to manage. Best of all, the views are great for small effort and limited time. There is a bit of scrambling over the rocky ledges near the top (these can be slippery) and open cliffs. However, with a bit of caution, even families with small children in tow can do this short winter outing. Even if you don’t take in Cannon Mountain skiing, you’ll enjoy this quick snowshoe excursion.
Franconia, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 1.5
This is New Hampshire’s largest developed state park and one of the best for snowshoeing. The park encompasses more than 10,000 acres, including marshes, bogs, mountain summits, and ponds, and a spider web of trails, more than 40 miles in all. You’ll find something to suit all ages, abilities, and energy levels. We’ve spent several winter days exploring the trails that criss-cross the forest, fields, and slopes of this southern New Hampshire preserve, and still haven’t seen it all. It’s heartily used in summer; there’s hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, rafting, a twenty-station fitness course, artillery range, and a small museum complex. While Bear Brook State Park slows down when the mercury drops and the snow flies, it still get a fair amount of use from cross-country skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and hard-core (read; crazy!) mountain bikers. The park campground closes in mid-October, but if you’d like to spend a few days exploring the park, check out nearby Circle 9 Ranch. The 125-site campground stays open all winter, offering entertainment and heated bathrooms.
Suncook, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.5
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Bradley Palmer is one of the best-loved and easiest-to-locate parks on the North Shore. Local kids have happy memories of this park in summertime, when the wading pool (sort of a countrified version of the open fire hydrant) is turned on, and parents plop down on surrounding hilisides with picnic goodies. Of course, you can create some fine memories here in winter, tool The main road into the park is, happily, plowed, and there’s plenty of parking. The interpretive trail, where we begin this hike, is just as nice in the winter as it is in summertime, offering up bits of nature fact and tree identification.
Topsfield, MA - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3
The parking lot doesn’t look promising; You’ll probably see at least a couple of trucks with trailers attached. “Uh, oh!" you’ll think; “Snowmobilers!" And, in fact, this trail intersects with Corridor 7, a major snowmobile route. But early on, once you pass Bromley Brook, you probably won’t see or hear them at all. You’ll be deep, deeper, deepest into the woods, en route to the summit of Bromley Mountain. This is an extraordinarily peaceful hike, not heavily used in winter, perhaps because of its length and the fact that it is rated moderate to difficult. Plus, Bromley Mountain is home to a bustling ski resort, which might make it seem like you’ll be dodging downhill skiers as you go. Not so, as we discovered. The ski resort is actually southeast of the trail. If you’re lucky, the only company you have will be your hiking buddy and a couple of pileated woodpeckers as you attack the 3260-foot summit of Bromley. We actually sang as we hiked, something we wouldn’t have done if we thought anyone would hear us!
Manchester, VT - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.4
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Ready for a workout? You’ll get one on this steep trek up to the summit of 2800-foot Burnt Mountain in northern Vermont, It’s a 4.6-mile up-and-back hike, but you can choose to opt out sooner, if you like. Window Rock, with nice views of Hazens Notch, is about halfway up the mountain. Continue the strenuous hike to the bare peak, and views open up even more to reveal surrounding mountain ranges, and on a clear day, Mount Mansfield and Lake Champlain. The good thing about this hike is that it’s pretty much unheard of so you’re likely to have the trail and the mountaintop to yourself. The more popular hikes—Mount Mansfield to the south and rugged Jay Peak to the north-draw hardy winter peak-baggers, leaving this pretty, remote peak to those in the know. NOTICE: A 200-acre area on Burnt Mountain has been posted against trespassing by the landowner. There is no access to trails beyond the High Meadow (www.hazensnotch.org). Ensure continued landowner generosity for public access by obeying the posted rules.
Montgomery Center, VT - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.6
Solitude, commanding views, and a touch of wilderness mark this little-used route up the round-domed Burnt Mountain. This peak in Maine’s Carrabasset Valley sits in the shadows of Sugarloaf Mountain, minutes from the popular ski resort. The hiking trail is best accessed through the resort’s cross-country and snowshoe Outdoor Center. The added bonus is that anyone in your group who doesn’t want to make the long, more challenging trek up Burnt Mountain can play around on the network of trails that wind through the pretty woods and bogs at the base of the center. This area is known for its heavy snowfall, and the season tends to last longer here than in many parts of New England. Then, gently, one foot at a time, we followed the trail as it circled through the woods, and less than an hour later, ended back at the Sugarloaf/USA Outdoor Center. In our small group, we had a novice (her first time on snowshoes), a five-year-old, and a nine- month-old in a backpack child carrier. It was the perfect little jaunt, but the next time we returned, we wanted more. We found it in this hike up Burnt Mountain.
Carrabassett Valley, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 7
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To outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate mountain-to-sea scenery and solitude, a winter visit to Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park, is hard to beat. The snow doesn’t always last long on this windy seacoast, but hit it right and you’ll find paradise. The scenic carriage roads that wind through park woodlands and mountains will be carpeted in layers of snow; 45 miles are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Another 41 miles of unplowed park roads lead to backcountry lakes and ponds, and mountaintop vistas. Winter hikers have even more choices; there are 120 miles of trails, ranging from flat oceanside walks to more adventurous mountain and cliff climbs. In summer, you’re likely to follow a line of bikers cruising carriage paths or hikers walking the more popular trails. Come winter, you’ll have them all to yourself. “I’m feeling like royalty," our traveling companion remarked one afternoon, as we gazed out at mountains and sea. And with a sweep of his arm, “We have all this to ourselves!" The North Ridge Trail up Cadillac Mountain and the descent down a dramatic, narrow gorge is one of our all-time favorite hikes.
Acadia National Park, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5
This trail leads to the open summit of 2850-foot Caribou Mountain in the Evans Notch region, straddling the Maine-New Hampshire border. It’s a long, steady climb, with nearly 2000-foot elevation gain. But the hike through the dense pine forests of the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness and the sweeping views from the top of Mount Caribou make the effort worthwhile. While popular with summer hikers, few complete the snowshoe hike to the top, but you’re likely to find the tracks of some hardy locals who appreciate the exercise and the scenery.
Gilead, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.4
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This hike follows the Nineteen-mile Brook Trail through Carter Notch, but don’t let the name of this trail scare you off. The moderately steep trail climbs only 3.8 miles to the Appalachian Mountain Club Carter Notch Hut, passing cascades, two small mountain lakes, and open views along the way. It’s a popular route, both summer and winter, offering plenty of scenic outlooks as it winds through the picturesque notch, wedged in between the ridges of Wildcat Mountain and Carter Dome. It’s a long day trip, but doable for intermediate hikers. Another option is to reserve a space at the backcountry stone hut, the oldest in the AMC White Mountain hut system.
Gorham, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 7.6
It’s a bit swamp Yankee, don’t ya’ think? said one of our hiking companions of this down-home ski center. We’ll admit, it you’re looking for Aspen chic and oh-so-refined atmosphere, don’t bother to come here. The place is a bit rough around the edges, with hand-scrawled signs on the trails and tattered sofas in the lodge. But turn your back on the accoutrements and feast your eyes instead on the surroundings. You can’t beat the scenery, 1000 or mute acres sprawled along the Androscoggin River, surrounded by snowy peaks. Trails crisscross old farmlands, skirt the river, and skitter up hillsides for open views.
Bethel, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.08
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This is about as near perfect of a short, half-day hike as you can get. You’ll walk a well-marked, easy-to-follow footpath, traveling through pretty snowy woods, up a gentle incline to a series of cascades and waterfalls. The spot is a popular summer hiking destination and swimming hole; come winter, the waterfalls take on a more stark seasonal beauty; a wall of frozen froth and ice, glimmering in filtered sunlight. The round trip will take about three hours or so to complete, plus time to linger along the way and at the Falls.
Conway, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.8
Wild, rugged, remote, and dramatically beautiful . . . Chimney Pond, nestled in a semi-circular glacial bowl at the foot of towering, 1000-foot cliffs on the northeast side of Mount Katahdin, is arguably one of the prettiest hike-in spots in New England. Backcountry hikers, skiers, winter climbers, and snowshoers book months in advance for the privilege of staying in the bunkhouse or lean-tos clustered around the pond. It is one of Baxter State Park’s most sought-after destinations, and for good reason. Make the long, two-day trek into Chimney Pond, and you’ll have unparalleled views of Katahdin’s South Basin and surrounding wilderness. The path, though well trodden, should not be taken lightly. The four-day, up-and-back hike is long, sometimes strenuous, and, like all backcountry winter travel, requires planning and preparation. You’ll need advance reservations to camp the first night at Roaring Brook and the second at Chimney Pond. Winter road access into Baxter State Park is very limited and often sketchy.
Millinocket, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 27
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Day Mountain, elevation gain 583 feet, round trip 1.5 miles. At first glance, it’s easy to discount this little hike up a little mountain. But you’d be wrong to do so. A short walk on this trail through winter-white woods will take you to an eagle’s-eye perch looking across the rocky Maine coast and the wildly cold blue waters of the Atlantic. There’s a hiking trail that runs up the south side and down the north, hooking up with a carriage road to complete a loop. There’s a carriage road-popular with cross-country skiers-that runs up and back down from Day Mountain’s scenic summit. And there’s a carriage road that circles the perimeter. We like to take the hiking trail up and carriage road back down (or vice versa), leaving us plenty of time to poke around the Seal Harbor General Store. Better idea; stop at the store first to stock up on gourmet picnic items, including fresh-made sandwiches, cookies, and fruit to take with you on your hike. We nearly always make another stop here on our return, to browse the general store’s expansive wine section-offering one of the best selections on the island.
Cranberry Isles, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 1.5
This gently lovely area of forests, kettle ponds, and wetlands is proof that one doesn’t need to conquer a summit to enjoy great scenery. This 4640-acre park, bordering Rhode Island and Connecticut on the southern border of central Massachusetts, is also known for its Atlantic white cedar swampland and its collection of glacial boulders. In addition to all this is Wallis Pond’s old stone dam with small waterfalls. The trail is lollipop-shaped; you’ll start at the stick of the lollipop and follow it counterclockwise. Be careful at the end of the loop, when you venture onto the stick again; it’s easy to miss it and you can get lost (like we did) and add an extra 6 miles to your hike. Otherwise, the hike is well marked but not heavily used—always a great combination!
Webster, MA - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.5
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This long loop hike combines an easy stroll on one of Acadia National Park’s famed carriage roads around picturesque Eagle Lake with a short scramble up Connors Nubble. Fine vistas greet you nearly every step of the way, and the view from the top of the nubble is nothing short of spectacular. Though the hike along the Eagle Lake carriage road is relatively easy, it is long. Families with young ones in tow may elect to backtrack from Connors Nubble, cutting the trip by more than 4 miles. This is a popular route for cross-country skiers, too. When the snow is deep enough (at least four inches), park volunteers lay ski tracks on the west
Hulls Cove, ME - Cross-Country Skiing,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 6.7
This up-and-back hike, in the shadows of the Franconia Range, features a series of spectacular waterfalls and frothy cascades. The frozen Falls, reaching 60 to 80 feet, are a sight to see against the surrounding granite backdrop and snowy ridges. Take this trail, even in the coldest of winters, and you’ll walk to the sound of gurgling water moving beneath sheets of ice and snow. It’s one of our favorites in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The entire trail stretches 3.2 miles (one way) to the top of Franconia Ridge. However, we don’t recommend that you go much further than Shining Rock, an impressive granite ledge. Most folks, in fact, end their hike at the last of the three major waterfalls, cutting the trip to less than 3 miles round trip and avoiding the steepest sections of the trail. Those who travel up and around the waterfalls, continuing to Shining Rock and farther to Franconia Ridge, will be rewarded with open mountain and valley views. But the trail can be dangerously icy and lung-burstingly steep. In any case, don’t feel guilty about opting for the short trip-it’s a fine one, with plenty of its own rewards.
Franconia, NH - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.6
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This pristine 65-acre sanctuary on the Presumpscot River estuary is headquarters for the Maine Audubon Society and a great place for a winter stroll. You can hike more than 2 miles of trails that weave through open fields, meadows, and woodlands, and along tidal shoreline and salt marshes. As you might guess, this is a bird-lover’s paradise. On your winter walk, you’re likely to hear-and see-flocks of Canada geese and a variety of waterfowl. Join one of the center’s guided night walks and listen for the home hour of an owl. The environmental center is a good place to hang out; there are exhibits, a library and a children’s discovery area, along with hot drinks and snacks.
Falmouth, ME - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length:
Easy accessibility, quick climb, no backtracking, and mountains-to-sea views . . . what more could you ask for? This hike up 525-foot Gorham Mountain is the perfect half-day jaunt. It’s not rail-trail flat, but the elevation gain is gradual and the rewards far outweigh the effort. Combine this hike with a walk along Sand Beach, then return to Bar Harbor for a cup of steaming chowder, and you have the makings for a fine winter day.
Otter Creek, ME - Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4
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State Log Book

Jan 2019