M Backyard Wilderness: The New England Trail

by Ryan Linn

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Article Summary:

The Northeastern United States are a backpacker's dream, with two National Forests, well over a thousand miles of hiking trails, and several hiking clubs that maintain those trails. Backpackers looking for short trips have dozens of options within a few hours' drive of the major population centers, and those looking for longer trips have several long-distance trails to choose from.

At the end of the summer work season, I decided to leave the frequently hiked long-distance trails for another time and instead looked for a newer option. The Cohos Trail, a very young trail in the far northern reaches of New Hampshire, was a good start, but it seemed like a simple thing to add more miles onto it.

The Cohos Trail ends in the White Mountains, where there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails that can be easily connected. Farther south, there were other trails that made a continuous route from southern Connecticut to the middle of New Hampshire. Aside from an approximately fifty-mile gap between the White Mountains and Mount Sunapee, I was able to piece together a nearly six-hundred mile route through territory that I had never explored before.

With a quick search online, I found someone who had thought of a connected trail system several years ago, and I began to plan a backpacking trip of "The New England Trail." Since I couldn't find anybody who had actually hiked the entire system as a single trip before, the planning was much more complicated than it would have been on the Appalachian Trail or Long Trail, which have tons of information for potential through-hikers. After almost a year of planning, I finally found myself at the Canadian border in New Hampshire with my friend, Gary Hebert, ready to head south to Long Island Sound.

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