Each year among the blooming flowers, chirping birds, and the melting snow, hikers visit their favorite trails to explore the beauty of springtime in New England. Don’t get us wrong, snowshoeing and skiing along the NET has its own charm, but we are excited to usher in the warmer weather and kick off the next season of hiking, exploring and enjoying the trail!
This spring we challenge you to dust off those hiking boots, head for the hills and focus on re-committing to adventures and activities outdoors. Below, the staff at the Appalachian Mountain Club and our partners at the Connecticut Forest and Park Association have put together six of our favorite New England Trail destinations to aid you in planning your springtime hikes!
Have you started your Hike50 Challenge? Whether you are closing in on the 50-mile mark or haven’t started yet, each mile of the hikes outlined below will count towards challenge completion! Plan a trip to the New England Trail today and don’t forget to fill out the completion form once you’ve reached 50 points to receive your Hike50 patch!
The NET and the trail network surrounding it are generally in good condition in late May and early June, the last snow reserves have disappeared, but be sure to watch out for muddy areas, winter storm damage and high water at stream crossings!
Whether you are a budding ornithologist or a weekend bird watcher, a trip to Section 6 of the NET is a must! The East River Preserve is a bird lovers paradise with open fields, forested areas and rolling terrain that is home to a large variety of estuary dependant and forest birds. The trail takes hikers through a series of landscapes including large intact legacy upland forest, successional grasslands, and an inland wetland system before heading north towards NET CT section 7.
Penwood State Park offers spectacular views of the Connecticut River Valley from atop the northern portion of the Talcott Mountain Range. Springtime in the state park is perfect for hikers looking to immerse themselves in 800-acres of heavily wooded solitude and abundant wildflowers. Stop at Lake Louise and visit the new observation platform or climb up and enjoy the view from The Pinnacle.
The rocky outcrops and spires of Mt. Higby are breathtaking any season! This section of the NET is a great place to enjoy a wonderful wooded ridge walk before the trees clear and offer spectacular views that expand westward toward Hubbard Park in Meriden and beyond. This spring, follow the trail up to Preston’s Notch to enjoy an afternoon of birdwatching and wildflower spotting!
Sections 5 and 6 are two of the more spectacular sections of trail in Massachusetts. From their scenic open ridgelines and steep cliffs, MA Sections 5 and 6 provide visitors a succession of fine views of the valley before bringing hikers back into the stillness of the shaded forests. A springtime visit to this portion of the trail is bound to impress you!
Section 16 of the NET is a popular destination for hikers and climbers alike! The trail climbs steeply along the cliffs at Farley Ledges, following the beautiful hemlock shaded ravine of Briggs Brook. This section of the trail offers spectacular views of the Millers River Valley as hikers traverse the ridges and ledges of Hermit Mtn, Rattlesnake Mtn and Crag Mtn. Be sure to plan a hike to Farley ledges on a crisp, clear spring day to take full advantage of the sweeping vistas!
A spring trip to Royalston Falls should be at the top of your list! The hike descends through the forested valley of Falls Brook, then follows the brook downstream past pools and cascades to the gorge at Royalston Falls. In addition to excellent views of the water, this section offers hikers a look into past uses of the area as the trail winds past old cellar holes and stone walls. This is one of the most visited northern sections of the NET in MA and for good reason!