A New England summer would not be complete without exploring the rocky coast of the North Atlantic, or the rugged peaks of the White Mountains. This self guided combo tour sends you from sea to summit with opportunities for adventure at every turn. Set out for a paddle by kayak or SUP, enjoy a swim at the beach, and treat yourself to a sunset sail aboard an authentic traditional fishing schooner before heading north for a mix of day hiking and overnight backpacking. Accommodations range from luxury hotels, to alpine huts, and cozy inns. Located north of Boston on Cape Ann, Gloucester is America’s oldest continuous seaport. Although it was fished for centuries by many cultures before being settled by Europeans in 1623, one of the earliest well-known records of the area is Samuel de Champlain’s 1606 account. The chart he created refers to Gloucester as “le beau port” or beautiful harbor, and once you arrive it’s immediately easy to understand why. After a short drive from Boston, you’ll spend your first two nights here in beachfront luxury. Home to 48 peaks over 4,000 feet above sea level, the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine is one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds in the northeast. The stark relief of the Presidential Traverse is at the heart of it all, and we’ve picked out our favorite section to share with you. You’ll approach Mount Washington from Crawford Notch, and if the weather cooperates, you might just get the opportunity to summit the highest peak east of the Mississippi. After spending three nights backpacking between the Appalachian Mountain Club’s huts, you’ll spend your last two nights at a cozy North Conway inn. Your final day includes choices for peak ascents with spectacular 360 degree views of the region.
Gloucester, Ma — After landing at Boston Logan International, you’ll rent a car and drive 45 minutes to the quaint and scenic Cape Ann. Gloucester boasts a rich history not only for being a prominent fishing port, but also for it’s productive granite and shipbuilding industries. It’s also home to the one of the oldest art colonies in America, as well as over 4000 acres of conservation land. You might spend the afternoon relaxing at Good Harbor Beach or at the hotel’s rooftop pool, before having dinner at your hotel overlooking the harbor.
Gloucester, Ma — Today, the island is your oyster and there are many activities to choose from based on the weather and your taste. Explore Gloucester Harbor by stand-up paddle board or the nearby Essex River by kayak. Browse the shops on Main Street’s historic West End or the galleries and art studios along Rocky Neck. Venture out for a sunset sail on board the immaculate Schooner Thomas E. Lannon, traditionally built based on the local design of a 1903 swordfishing vessel.
Mizpah Hut — In the morning you’ll drive 3 hours north to Crawford Notch in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. You might consider stopping for an optional excursion to Portsmouth, NH where you’ll find a variety of nice restaurants and shops. Once in the mountains, you’ll leave your car at the AMC Highland Center before starting your 3 night backpacking trek. A moderate 2.6 mile hike brings you to Mizpah Spring Hut where guests are welcomed from June to October. The views are spectacular, but you may also appreciate the huts’ large, south-facing windows, intimate bunkrooms, and library. The huts friendly crew provides hearty home-cooked meals as well as help answering questions and perhaps a bit of evening entertainment as well.
Lake of the Clouds Hut — Your hike for the day follows the Crawford Path along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, which in its entirety stretches all the way from Georgia to Maine. The summits of Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, and Mt. Monroe rise to meet you along the way. Once you reach the hut, if there’s time left in the day and the weather is clear, you can tackle the short but steep climb to the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New England. Your accommodations for the night are one of the AMC’s highest and most visited destinations. Enjoy the world above the treeline with sweeping views of the Presidential Range.
Madison Spring Hut — You’ve got a couple different route options today. If the weather is good, we highly recommend summiting Mt Washington in the morning before the crowds arrive. From there you’ll continue on the Gulfside trail for 6 miles to your last hut of the trip. Once you arrive, you can relax at the hut; or if you’ve still got energy, head over to Star Lake or the Parapet, a crag overlooking Madison Gulf. Enjoy your last evening of expansive, above treeline views, before your descent in the morning.
North Conway — After breakfast hit the trail for the last leg of your hut-to-hut journey, winding your way down from the Presidentials. You’ll finish at the Valley Way Appalachia Trailhead to meet your shuttle: pickup is scheduled for 11:40 AM, so you’ll want to make sure you arrive a bit early. The shuttle will bring you back to the Highland Center by 12:25 PM where you can retrieve your car. Following route 302 south for 35 minutes to the sweet mountain town of North Conway brings you home for the next two nights.
North Conway — Today you have two options for a loop hike, both with fantastic 360 degree views of the region. For a moderate day (or if the weather is bad) you can circumnavigate Mount Chocorua, topping out at 3,500 feet with views of lakes dotting the horizon to the south. Or, if the weather permits, and you’re feeling up for a big final day, drive an hour west along the scenic Kancamagus Highway to Franconia Notch. Here you’ll start a challenging but rewarding hike, traversing the prominent ridge that connects Mount Lincoln to Lafayette overlooking the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Stop in at the AMC’s Greenleaf Hut for a beverage before descending to your car in the valley below.
Departure — Today you’ll say goodbye to the mountains of New England and return to Boston or your post-tour destination.