Season Openers: 8 Spring Hikes

February 13, 2015
The Delaware River flows in the shadow of Mount Minsi.
ShutterstockThe Delaware River flows in the shadow of Mount Minsi.

We recently asked our Facebook followers what mountain they were most eager to hike when spring arrives. Their answers covered a wide range, from close-to-home day hikes to ambitious backcountry excursions. Here are eight of their favorite spring hikes.

Avery Peak  |  Bigelow Preserve Public Reserved Land, Maine
The Bigelow Range, which bisects the 36,000-acre Bigelow Preserve, provides dramatic views north to Baxter State Park and south to Sugarloaf. There are several routes into the Bigelow Range, but one of the most direct is the Fire Warden’s Trail. It ascends from Stratton Brook Pond Road to the Appalachian Trail, emerging on a col between West Peak and Avery Peak. The climb is steep, but hikers are soon rewarded by views from the ridge. Follow the trail to the right for 0.4 mile to reach Avery (4,088 ft.). A 0.3-mile detour in the other direction will bring you to West Peak (4,145 ft.).
Distance:10.2 miles round-trip
Info: Maine Mountain Guide, 10th ed. (AMC Books); maine.gov

Tumbledown Mountain  |  Weld, Maine
The 10,000-acre Tumbledown Public Reserved Land is home to several dramatic peaks and miles of trails. Take the blue-blazed Loop Trail from Byron Road and ascend—gradually at first then a steep scramble—1.9 miles to the Tumbledown Ridge Trail. A 0.1-mile jaunt west takes you to the western summit of Tumbledown Mountain, then head the other direction on the Tumbledown Mountain Trail to reach the east summit and, after about 1 mile, Tumbledown Pond. Return to the Loop Trail via the Tumbledown Ridge Trail. Highlights include dramatic 700-foot cliffs, caves, and panoramic views from the open summits. Take the Pond Link and Little Jackson trails to extend your hike to neighboring Little Jackson Mountain.
Distance: 5.5 miles round-trip
Info: Maine Mountain Guide, 10th ed. (AMC Books); maine.gov

Peaked and Middle Mountains  |  North Conway, N.H.
The modest Peaked (1,739 ft.) and Middle (1,857 ft.) mountains offer perfect early season hiking. With their southern exposure, they dry out earlier than other trails, and their low elevations offer an easy early season workout. Start at the Pudding Pond Trail parking area. Follow the Peaked Mountain/Middle Mountain Trail to its fork (0.7 mile) and continue to the right on the Middle Mountain Trail. At the next fork (1.4 miles) you can go left to the summit of Peaked Mountain then return to the junction and head the other way to the summit of Middle Mountain. Highlights include trailside cascades and views of Mount Washington from the summits.
Distance: 3.6 miles out and back
Info: nature.org; White Mountain Guide, 29th ed. (AMC Books)

Mount Morgan and Mount Percival Loop  |  Holderness, N.H.
This popular loop hike begins on Route 113, north of Holderness, N.H. Follow the Mount Morgan Trail for 1.7 miles to its merge with the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail; they lead to the summit of Mount Morgan via a series of ladders and a scramble through a cave. Enjoy the cliff-top view before continuing along the ridge to Mount Percival (0.8 mile away). Views here extend over nearby Squam Lake. Descend via the Mount Percival Trail and return to the base of the Mount Morgan Trail via the Morse Trail.
Distance: 5.4-mileloop
Info: White Mountain Guide, 29th ed. (AMC Books); squamlakes.org/map

Mount Abraham  |  Lincoln, Vt.
Vermont’s Long Trail provides access to peaks across the Green Mountains. Join the white-blazed trail from the parking area on Lincoln Gap Road and follow it north. You’ll pass the Green Mountain Club’s Battell Shelter at 1.8 miles. A half-mile later you’ll enter the alpine zone. Views across the Breadloaf Wilderness will accompany you to the summit. At 4,006 feet, Mount Abraham is Vermont’s fifth-tallest mountain. On a clear day, you can see to Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks from the summit. Descend via the same route.
Distance: 5.2 miles round-trip
Info: greenmountainclub.org; AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont (AMC Books)

Tri-State Peaks  |  Taconic State Park, N.Y.
Hit three states in one day. This loop can be accessed from trailheads in Connecticut and Massachusetts, but the shortest route starts in New York, at the Robert Brook Trail on Under Mountain Road. Hike in to the South Taconic Trail and turn left. The Alander Loop Trail (over 2,239-foot Alander Mountain), Alander Mountain Trail, and Ashley Hill Trail will lead you through Mount Washington State Forest. At the Mount Frissell Trail junction take a detour to the left to hit the tri-state marker, Connecticut’s highest point, and the summit of Mount Frissell (2,453 ft.). Backtrack and continue to the South Taconic Trail junction. A short detour will take you up Brace Mountain (2,311 ft.), then follow the South Taconic Trail north to complete the loop.
Distance: 12.7-mile loop
Info: Massachusetts Trail Guide, 9th ed. (AMC Books)

Bearfort Mountain  |  West Milford, N.J.
Nestled along the New York–New Jersey border, next to Greenwood Lake, Bearfort Mountain is a relatively short hike with big payoffs—including dramatic cliffs and views across the water to nearby Sterling Forest. Begin on the State Line Trail. At 0.8 mile, turn left onto the Ernest Walter Trail and follow the yellow blazes. Soon you’ll emerge on the ridge, with dramatic views of the lake below (be careful with your footing here). The trail follows a counter-clockwise loop past two glacial tarns and across some steep, rocky terrain. Go right at the junction with the Appalachian Trail, and then reconnect to the State Line Trail shortly after that, for your descent.
Distance: 4.3 miles round-trip
Info: AMC’s Best Day Hikes Near New York City (AMC Books); nynjtc.org

Mount Minsi  |  Delaware Water Gap, Pa.
Though short—just 1,463 ft.—Mount Minsi rises dramatically above the Delaware River and the southern end of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It’s perhaps best known as the last stretch of Appalachian Trail (AT) in Pennsylvania, before thru-hikers cross the river into New Jersey. From the Lake Lenape trailhead, follow the white blazes of the AT southbound. Views across the Delaware River toward New Jersey’s Mount Tammany highlight this climb. You can turn back whenever you want or, to create a loop and have a more gradual descent, take the fire road at about 2.8 miles. It reconnects with the AT near the parking area.
Distance: 5.1 miles round-trip
Info: nps.gov/dewa

CONTRIBUTORS: Kathryn Barnes, John S. Burk, Daniel Case, John Côté, David Finch, Aaron Greene, Rene Laubach, Adam Lippman, Lisa Pengel, Jennifer Lamphere Roberts, Tom Rondello Jr., Charles W.G. Smith, Jamie Wallhauser

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.