Ranging from as low as 448 feet (Delaware) to 6,288 feet (New Hampshire), high points—or the location with the highest elevation in each state—in AMC’s region vary greatly. Whether you’re looking for a challenging day hike or want to see geology in action, these hikes provide a unique bird’s-eye view of each state.
Formed by magma and sculpted by glaciers, Katahdin, the northern endpoint for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, offers gorgeous scenery and nail-biting adventure. For a truly challenging trek, experienced hikers can follow the rocky ridge known as Knife Edge between South and Pamola peaks, where sections of the trail run as narrow as 2 feet wide, with a 2,000-foot drop on each side. Hiking Katahdin requires an advance reservation; contact Baxter State Park at 207-723-5140 for more information.
Known for recording some of the world’s worst weather, Mount Washington provides a challenge even for veteran hikers. Make the most of your trek to the Northeast’s highest point with an overnight at AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut. To get there, begin at AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, taking Boott Spur Trail to Davis Path; or, for a more difficult route, follow Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the summit. (This is a very steep and rocky trail, requiring some hands-and-knees scrambling.) Add a layer while you wait for a photo opportunity at the summit sign before heading down Crawford Path to the hut, where a warm meal and a bunk await. Take Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail the next morning, picking up AMC’s hiker shuttle at Washington’s western base to head back to Pinkham Notch.
Vermont’s highest peak is one of three in the state home to Arctic alpine tundra dating back to the last ice age. Here you’ll find plants, like Mountain Sandwort, that can survive the harsh climate—but not hikers’ footsteps, so tread carefully. For this route, park at the gate at the end of Mountain Road and follow Eagle Cut Trail to CCC Road to Sunset Ridge Trail. From there, hike 1.5 miles to the intersection with the Long Trail, which you’ll take to the summit before turning around and returning the way you came.
One of the more remote peaks in the Adirondacks, Mount Marcy gives hikers who want an escape from civilization a chance to really indulge in nature. The most popular route up Marcy is the 14.8-mile out-and-back Van Hoevenberg Trail. To follow it, park at the Adirondack Loj parking area and take the blue-blazed trail 7.4 miles past Marcy Dam, Phelps Brook, gorges, boulders, vulnerable dwarf shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation. Hiking above treeline, you’ll see views of Avalanche Mountain and Wright Peak to the east and west. Return the way you came.
Elevation: 5,344 feet
Distance: 14.8 miles out and back
The only boreal plant community in Massachusetts lies above the 3,000-foot elevation mark on this peak and is home to unique vegetation, such as red spruce and balsam fir. Park by the trailhead off Notch Road in North Adams and take Bellows Pipe Trail up to the summit, where you can climb to the top of the 93-foot Veterans War Memorial Tower (closed in winter) for views of the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the Green and White mountains. For a nice loop back to your car, follow a section of the Appalachian Trail about 1.7 miles before turning right on Bernard Farms Trail.
Located on the Massachusetts–Connecticut state line, Frissell’s summit is actually in Massachusetts, with Connecticut’s high point on the mountain’s southern slope. Park in the small lot off Mount Washington Road and take Mount Frissell Trail 1.2 miles to the summit then continue 0.1 mile to the high point marker. Another 0.5 mile on the trail will lead you to the New York–Connecticut–Massachusetts tri-state marker, with overlooks of both the Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks. Log your hike in the high-pointers diary, kept in a metal box near the marker, before returning the way you came.
7. EBRIGHT AZIMUTH | Wilmington, Del.
Delaware’s high point may call for a road trip rather than a hike. Both a U.S. Geological Survey disk and a blue-and-yellow sign off Ebright Road mark this “peak” in northern Delaware. The sign is only 500 feet from Pennsylvania’s border and across the street from the home of Doreen Rupchick, also known as “Queen of Ebright Azimuth,” because she took action to have Delaware’s high point officially recognized.
Elevation: 448 feet
Distance: Less than 0.1 mile one way
Info: Delaware Geological Survey
Part of the 30-mile Negro Mountain ridgeline, Mount Davis is a popular spot for day hikers and picnickers. For a fun reverse hike, drive up to the summit and park in the visitors lot. Descend on yellow-blazed Shelter Rock Trail 0.9 mile and turn right when you reach the dirt-surface Shelter Rock Road. You’ll link up with red-blazed Timberslide Trail in 0.4 mile. Continue downhill to the junction with red-blazed Tub Mill Trail in 0.4 mile. Tub Mill Trail takes you past 2.1 miles of waterfalls and sandstone boulders before reconnecting with Shelter Rock Road. Across the road, you will find yellow-blazed High Point Trail; follow it 1 mile back to the summit for a quick climb to the top of the observation tower.
Elevation: 3,213 feet
Distance: 5.2-mile loop
Info: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Contributors: Carey Michael Kisch, René Laubach, Jen Lamphere Roberts, Charles W. Smith, Steven D. Smith