Road trips are a great way to explore the country with lots of opportunities to see new places, meet new people and enjoy beautiful views. Mountains provide some of the most spectacular views you can find on a road trip. Even if you’re not the hiking type, driving through the mountains and up the winding roads that lead to these towering peaks is not to be missed.
New Hampshire is the place to be if you want reach the highest points in the Northeast, but there are plenty more highly enjoyable options throughout the region.
The New Hampshire White Mountains, named for their snow-covered peaks, are full of trails and roadways with beautiful scenery. If you’re looking for the highest spot, then you want to check out Mount Washington, part of the Presidential Mountain Range. At 6,288 feet, this mountain is tallest in the entire Northeast.
It’s easily accessible during the summer months by the Mount Washington Auto Road, so you can drive to the top rather than making the hike. At the summit, you’ll find the Mount Washington Observatory along with a café where you can get a little snack and take refuge if the weather turns. Even if you’re driving to the top, check out the weather first as a beautiful warm day at the base doesn’t erase the possibility of cold rain and high winds at the summit.
The Presidential Mountain Range has no shortage of towering mountains, with five that top 5,000-feet. This makes the Granite State the place to visit if you want the best mountain views. The second-highest peak in New Hampshire is also the second-highest peak in the Northeast. Mount Adams comes in just below 5,800 feet in elevation. Climbing to the top of this one is a challenge, but there are easier trails around the mountain that will let you get out and explore without having to be a hardcore hiker. The White Mountains are a popular vacation destination, so there’s no shortage of outdoor activities.
The seventh-highest peak in the Northeast at 5,267 feet is found in the state of Maine. Mount Katahdin sits in Baxter State Park, which is part of the Maine Highlands. This mountain is about 25 miles away from the town of Millinocket and marks the northernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. There are numerous hiking trails, but climbing this one is not for beginners. Be sure you’re prepared before you head out for the day and if a strenuous hike isn’t to your liking, there’s still plenty to explore throughout the rest of Baxter State Park.
Located in the beautiful Adirondacks, Mount Marcy is the highest peak in New York State at 5,344 feet, sitting just ahead of 5,114-foot-tall Algonquin Peak. These are the only two peaks in the state that exceed 5,000 feet. This one isn’t easy to get to and its varied terrain can be tricky for inexperienced hikers. If you do scale Mount Marcy, when the weather is clear, the view extends all the way to Mont Royal in Montreal. Its location in the Adirondacks means there’s lots to do in the area with kayaking, boating, hiking and towns to explore. Expect snow from October to May if you’re looking for a winter road trip destination.
Mount Mansfield State Forest is home to 4,393-foot Mount Mansfield, which is the highest peak in the Vermont. The forest covers 44,444 acres of state-owned land, an expansive state forest that provides lots of opportunities for nature lovers to explore.
Mount Mansfield’s summit ridge is unique for being one of only three mountains in the state where alpine tundra survived the ice age. The area is also home to several notches with a federal scenic-by-way that runs from Stowe Mountain Resort to Smugglers’ Notch Resort along Route 108. There are also numerous hiking trails suited for everything from a leisurely stroll to rock climbing. If you choose to visit during the winter months, you can even experience ice climbing.
The highest point in Massachusetts at 3,491 feet is Mount Greylock. On a clear day, the view from the top lets you see 90 miles away and is simply breathtaking. This mountain has an auto road that can easily get you to that view and is open from late May through the end of October depending on the weather. The area has enough to keep you busy no matter the time of year. There are hiking trails from easy to difficult along with spots for camping. Visit during the winter months, and you can snowmobile the trails up to the summit.
As you move south the highest peaks in the northeast get a little shorter. In Connecticut, Bear Mountain is the highest peak at roughly 2,300-feet tall. Located in Mount Riga State Park in the town of Salisbury, this peak is a strenuous climb that leads to incredible views. There are also more family-friendly trails in the area that lead to their own spectacular views if you’re not up for a rigorous hike. Note that if you want the highest spot in the state, rather than the highest peak, then you have to look for Mount Frissell. While the 2,454-foot peak of Mount Frissell is in Massachusetts, its southern slope is in Connecticut, which makes it the highest spot in the state.
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