The northeast may lack the West Coast’s monumental scale, but its natural treasures, from hidden coves to evergreen mountains, reward travelers with an understated charm. Take the northeast slow, stopping to soak in the sights but also making time for their serene surroundings. Visitors with time and flexibility will fall in love with these 10 can’t-miss New England sights, which tread the paths and tap into the traditions of the unique northern corner of the United States.
If you’ve ever seen vacation advertisements for Maine, chances are they’ve included lobster, lighthouses and Acadia National Park. The park is on an island almost entirely conserved and given over to nature, where red rouge bluffs beat back the wild, grey Atlantic, and forest-clad mountains rise in a chain connected by quiet trails. Thunder Hole is a cleft between the cliffs filled in by the racing ocean, which sprouts a huge plume of water, soaking tourists ringing the rim. Acadia, and Thunder Hole, will leave you rooted, transfixed to the spot.
Thunder Hole, Bar Harbor, ME, USA, +1 207 288 3338
Maine’s largest gorge, Gulf Hagas is better known as the Grand Canyon of the East. Here, the Pleasant River drops several hundred feet from corkscrew-shaped falls into wide-brimmed pools filled with trout. A three-hour drive north of Portland, the entrance to Gulf Hagas is only accessible by wading a river and hiking through a stand of 200-year-old white pine trees known as The Hermitage. The reward is Buttermilk Falls, a stunning, cool bowl of water that makes a nice quiet place to swim after a long hike.
Turquoise blue waters are the last thing you’d expect after climbing Maine’s tallest mountain for several hours, but this glacier-dug pond doesn’t disappoint. A bowl set at the base of 2,000-feet of sheer granite rising in a curve around it, the pond is a serene spot to stop and rest before tackling the rest of Mt. Katahdin.
White Arch at Natural Bridge State Park
The only naturally forming white marble arch in the country, this state park in northwest Massachusetts is off the beaten path but well worth it. The park’s bridge is comprised of 550 million-year-old marble, shaped into an arch by glacial melt water 13,000 years ago. Serpentine caverns wind beneath as the Hudson Brook falls 60-feet through a gorge.
Natural Bridge State Park, 1 McAuley Rd, North Adams, MA, USA, +1 413 663 6392
Ancient clay deposits are layered in red, black, gold, green and purple ribbons on this majestically eroding cliff side. Home to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, travel is only available by ferrying three miles from Martha’s Vineyard’s southern coast. The beaches are popular with nudists, while the rest of the island is favored by cyclists.
Home to more than the “cottages” of the rich and famous, the Berkshires seamlessly weave tradition and culture together. Whether you like music, dance, theater or hiking and farmland, the area is ripe for exploration. Famous for Monument Mountain and Mt. Greylock, these rolling hills are best explored by hopping into a car.
The Long Trail
Verdant, lush, and separated by river valleys, Vermont’s Green Mountains are a sight to behold. The Long Trail, the oldest long-distance footpath in the United States, runs 272-miles from the Green Mountains north the length of the state. Easily accessible by car, in fall the trees are a mosaic of primary colors, well-marked trails and day-hikers climbing one of the area’s many peaks, including the Camel’s Hump, Vermont’s third-highest at 4,000-feet.
Flowing from meadow and forest, Kent Falls collects a considerable amount of water before tumbling 70-feet through a series of lesser falls into the Housatonic Valley below. A steep trail winds the bank, offering hikers scenic vantages of falls and surrounding area.
Deserted beaches, magnificent bluffs – Block Island may be lesser known than Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, but this alluring destination is a natural wonder located just 12 miles off the mainland. The three- by – seven-mile island is lined by breaches, ocean vistas, miles of hiking trails and 250-foot-high coastal cliffs.
Home to the northeast’s tallest mountain, Mt. Washington, New Hampshire’s White Mountains are granite-topped, steeply-sloped peaks rising from the heart of the state. Water has cut winding rivers, tumbling ravines and steep notches – like Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park – through the hulking green mountains. Popular roads like the Kancamagus Highway help you take in more than 800,000 acres of protected land.