All the Ways to Go Off Grid in New England

Sunrise on Rangley Lake
Sunrise on Rangley Lake | © Koru Foto/Alan Szalwinski/Flickr
Christopher Crosby

The rural reaches of New England have been the safety value for urbanites to blow off steam for generations. With bucolic hills, stretches of silent forests, lonely beaches, and lakeside cabins, the northeast continues to attract those looking to unwind. Although modern amenities have made inroads, there are still plenty of opportunities to escape, unplug, and recharge before getting back to the daily grind. Here are some of the most remote, and beautiful, places to go off grid for a while.

Canoe down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

This 92-mile band of rivers and lakes stretches through one of Maine’s most rural, wild regions. Established by the state as a place of refuge and solace from “the pressures of society,” the solitude here is unique, even within a state renowned for getting away from it all. There are no houses, people, or roads, only canoes navigating the waterway for days on end. Travel with outfitters who will take care of the details and camp along the shores as you unwind and the world slips away, paddle stroke by paddle stroke.

Hike the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land

A true coastal retreat, this stretch of Downeast Maine’s Bold Coast runs for 4.5 miles along the Bay of Fundy. Forever set aside from development, here rocky cliffs end abruptly at the Atlantic, with almost no houses or people in sight. Trails criss-cross the blueberry fields, peat bogs, and pine barrens, connecting tent sites with dramatic ocean views.

Cutler Coast

Trek through the 100 Mile Wilderness

This portion of the Appalachain Trail is considered one of the wildest and toughest parts of the trek. Stretching from the town of Monson, southeast of Moosehead Lake, to Mt. Katadhin, Maine’s largest mountain, the wilderness is frequented by paper companies but few others, offering true solitude (not to mention excellent fishing opportunities) at the likes of Gulf Hagas, known as the Grand Canyon of the East. Any hardship is worth the journey, as the end of the trail offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, mostly woods and rivers.

100 Mile Wilderness

Stay at tree houses and Tiny Houses

The trendiest way to stay in New England at the moment is to stay in compact, charming rentals set amid bucolic surroundings on the coast or in the woods. Not just for kids, adults are getting in on the tree house act and getting away, sitting (literally) above it all in one-of-a-kind abodes that cater to true nature enthusiasts. Some stylish tree houses are on their own private islands or have rope bridges between landings. All run the gamut between rustic getaways and modern glamping (glamour camping) retreats, some with no electricity and others with a full kitchen. While firmly on the ground, Tiny Houses offer the comforts of home without the excess space, perfect for single travelers or couples.

See the stars in a yurt

New England has no shortage of lodging options, but for the modern nomad, yurts are a popular way of blending into the scenery. Simple and airy, yurts offer basic amenities in one large, tent-like room and not much more. Some have electricity and gas stoves, while yurt compounds are likely to have showers and even saunas. The best part, though, is the transparent tops, perfect for star gazing or listening to the rain. Most yurts are located in the woods and along mountains, letting you leave the world behind.

Channel Thoreau at a lake cabin

Travelers have migrated from cities to cabins on New England’s lakes for so many years now that residents have a phrase for it: “Goin’ up to camp.” Cabins conjure images of contemplation, and the rural regions of New England are some of the most secluded, remote refuges. The region’s cabins, many of them rustic and off-grid, will help you relax and rejuvenate, whether you stay in the woods of Western Massachusetts, or an off-the-grid cabin with an outdoor kitchen in Vermont’s Green Mountains.

Sunrise on Rangley Lake

Retreat to a remote island

Few places are as remote as New England’s islands. Summer’s tourist retreats are winter’s independent communities, cut off from everything else save for a ferry that might come once a day. Anyone looking to get away and unwind will find the slow, steady island life attractive. Minimal cell phone reception and little internet connection makes these islands feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Coupled with the sun—well, you’ve got all you need for a relaxing place to unwind.

Lighthouse, Bar Harbour, Maine

Venture onto the Appalachian Trail

Solitude abounds on the roughly 2,180-mile journey from Georgia to Maine. The trail is as much a spiritual feat as a physical one, winding up mountain and down valley. New England’s portion offers some of the most scenic locales the region has to offer, including the Massachusetts’ Berkshires, Vermont’s Green Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Franconia Ridge, White Mountains, New Hampshire

Journey to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom—just the “Kingdom” to locals—comprises three counties nestled between the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River. Quaint towns, breathtaking scenery and a way of life that resembles the state’s oldest traditions, anyone looking to unplug and get away can find the peace of solitude here.

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