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12 Trails to Explore on the East Coast

From the Appalachian Trail to the thousands of miles of trails in the White Mountain National Forest, there are plenty of trails to explore on the East Coast. Check out our 12 trail guides to see where you can hike or paddle to next!

Stephanie Stuehler      Trails      05/03/2021

Stephanie Stuehler

Trails

05/03/2021
A lake with green hills in the background, located at Acadia National Park

1. Acadia National Park

Explore Maine’s rugged ocean shores on the trails of Acadia National Park. The first National Park east of the Mississippi, Acadia is a 47,000-acre paradise for hikers, bikers, and sightseers on the low mountains of Mt Desert Island. The park is home to extensive miles of hiking trails and carriage roads. The park is comprised of beautiful woodlands and stunning rocky beaches. There is a variety of land- and sea-based wildlife in Acadia National Park, including moose, bear, whales, and a multitude of seabirds.

Explore Acadia National Park
A view of mountains and green hills on the Appalachian Trail.

2. Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the United States and attracts thousands of thru-hikers every year. Its narrow corridor stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine, traversing 14 states and nearly 2190 miles (3524 km) on its way. As one of the most popular thru-hikes in the US, the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world and is one of the Triple Crown trails. The AT is an amazing hiking adventure for long-distance hikers and thru-hikers, yet it is also perfect for day-hikers and section-hikers looking to enjoy the beautiful views.

Explore the Appalachian Trail
A rocky pond is situated in front of a green meadow and a green forest in front of green mountains.

3. Baxter State Park

Explore the forests, ponds, and mountains of Maine in Baxter State Park. One of the crown jewels of Maine’s outdoors, Baxter State Park is home to the state’s highest peak, Mt Katahdin, as well as several other rugged mountains, dozens of lakes and ponds, several major streams, and some of the deepest wilderness in the state. Most visitors come to either camp in the pristine campgrounds around the park, or to climb Katahdin (which is also the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail). Whatever your plan, the Park is worth as much time as you can afford to spend there.

Explore Baxter State Park

4. Benton MacKaye Trail

Climb mountains through green forests, splash across trout-filled rivers on the Benton MacKaye Trail. This trail is an Appalachian footpath of almost 289 miles (480 km). Named for the American forester and conservationist who sparked the idea for the Appalachian Trail, the Benton MacKaye Trail runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Davenport Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail passes through 3 states and a multitude of wilderness areas.

Explore the Benton Mackaye Trail

5. Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail

The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail is a long-distance paddling trail that follows the 400-mile Connecticut River from its headwaters at the US-Canada border to its terminus at the Long Island Sound. Mostly meandering, but at times rushing forcefully, the Connecticut River flows past a diverse landscape of rich agricultural lands, rural communities, urban centers, and tidal marshes. With its consistently navigable waters, few portages or difficult rapids, a rich cultural history and a varied natural landscape, the Connecticut River provides a unique opportunity to paddle through the heart of New England. Traveling through four New England states (NH, VT, MA, and CT) the Connecticut River offers endless exploration opportunities for any paddler that comes along!

Explore the Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail
A hiker walks down a trail through a green field under a blue sky.

6. Florida Trail

Hike the Florida National Scenic Trail from southern sandy beaches to northern rolling hills. Stretching more than 1400 miles (2250 km) across two time zones, the Florida Trail is the southernmost of the National Scenic Trails in the United States. It is a winter destination, best hiked between October and April, with January and February as the prime months for thru-hiking and backpacking. Although there are no mountains, Florida provides challenging hiking with its swampy and sandy terrain, dense vegetation, and humidity. It showcases vast coastlines, open prairies, river valleys, bubbling springs, and a walk along the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Botanical wonders are everywhere as the trail winds through habitats from tropical forests with Caribbean trees to hillsides covered in spring mountain laurel.

Explore the Florida Trail

7. International Appalachian Trail

The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) began in 1994 with the goal of creating a walking trail that followed the Appalachian Mountains from Mount Katahdin, Maine to Cap Gaspe, Quebec. Since then the IAT has grown to over 5000mi/8000km in length and include trails in 13 countries on three continents around the North Atlantic. Our IAT Guide includes the three original sections of the trail: Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Explore the International Appalachian Trail
Fog covers green mountains in a view from Pennsylvania's Mid State Trail.

8. Mid State Trail

Pennsylvania’s Mid State Trail is a hike of almost 330 miles (530 km), and offers dramatic views, rocky ridgelines, high plateaus, rolling hills, and a variety of other spectacular natural features. The trail crosses the entire state, from the border with New York in the north, to the border with Maryland in the south. The trail traverses many unique natural areas, including the Allegheny Mountains and the Northern Tier, a region of the trail shaped by the retreat of ancient glaciers.

Explore the Mid State Trail

9. New England Trail

The New England National Scenic Trail (NET) is a 215-mile hiking trail route that has been in existence for over half a century. The NET travels through 41 communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts and is comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock (M-M-M) Trail systems.The NET travels through classic New England landscape features – long-distance vistas with rural towns as a backdrop, agrarian lands, unfragmented forests, and large river valleys. The trail also travels through colonial historical landmarks and highlights a range of diverse ecosystems and natural resources: mountain ridges and summits, forested glades, wetlands and vernal pools, lakes, streams, and waterfalls.

Explore the New England Trail
Sun and blue sky shine through fall colors of deciduous trees on the Pinhoti Trail.

10. Pinhoti Trail

Walk southern Appalachian forests in Georgia and Alabama on the Pinhoti Trail. The Pinhoti Trail is a journey of over 330 miles (530 km) through the Appalachian Mountains of Alabama and Georgia. The trail runs from Northern Georgia where it meets the Benton Mackaye Trail to Flagg Mountain in Alabama, which holds a special designation as the southernmost peak of the Appalachians to stand at over 1000 ft. The Pinhoti Trail travels for over 150 miles in both states, and passes through some of the most beautiful sections of each, including the Talladega National Forest in Alabama and the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia.

Explore the Pinhoti Trail
Guthook Guides Long Trail

11. The Long Trail

Hike the Green Mountains through forests and peaks on the Long Trail. The Long Trail is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States. It follows the Green Mountains for 270 miles (430 km), crossing the state of Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada. Its rugged route summits Vermont’s highest peaks and visits a multitude of scenic forests, lakes, and rivers along the way. The southern 100 miles (160 km) of the Long Trail run together with the Appalachian Trail. The northern portion of the Long Trail is generally considered to be more challenging and remote than the southern end. The Long Trail offers endless hiking opportunities for thru-hikers, backpackers, section-hikers, and day-hikers.

Explore The Long Trail
A view shows rocky mountains and green alpine trees.

12. White Mountain National Forest

Climb among the Presidential peaks and along the rugged ridges of the White Mountain National Forest. White Mountain National Forest is home to New Hampshire’s highest peaks. These peaks are also some of the most famous in the entire country. Mount Washington and the Presidential Range are some of the most rugged and impressive peaks on the east coast, and have been a mecca for outdoor recreation for generations. In the White Mountains, you will find New Hampshire’s 48 Four-Thousand Footers, over a thousand miles of hiking trails, and endless possibilities for hiking adventures, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Explore The White Mountain National Forest

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Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association
A lake reflects a nearby wildflower meadow and trees.
Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!
About the Author

Stephanie Stuehler

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland Stephanie longed to one day see the Rockies. Upon receiving her Bachelors in Fine Arts with a track in graphic design she and her Frenchie, Nugget, decided to drive 1,677 miles, sight unseen to colorful, Colorado. She was left speechless (and winded) from her first hike in Idaho Springs. Steph has a huge passion for design and all things style. In her free time she enjoys working out or hiking in Boulder! Colorado is Stephanie’s happy place.