Five NE Hiking Challenges to Consider Hiking in 2021

View from Red Hill Fire Tower
Average read time 4 min

Thinking about taking on a new hiking goal this year? Maybe you’ve finished a one like climbing all the high peaks in New Hampshire but are not quite ready to take on another major, multi-year effort. Maybe you’re just getting started and you want to accomplish a hiking goal over one summer? We’ve put together a list of five hiking challenges two from New York, and one from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. They range between 5 and 12 peaks ranging from over 4000’ to just over 1600’. All have a common appeal, great views!

List have become the craze in hiking

There has been an explosion hiking list. For example, there are the well-known Adirondack Forty-sixers or Catskill 3500 Club. But newer lists like The Catskill 67, or The Other 54 which are the Catskill and Adirondack peaks in the top 100 in each park have become popular. As one can see by the number of peaks these require lots of time to complete. Maybe more than some people come to find out they can commit to. But there are many other challenges as the ones listed in this post – all of which are great for the new hiker.

The Hiking Challenges

We have handpicked several lists that are realistic for many new or veteran hikers that may want to hike and explore something less challenging than the above mentioned or continue to add to their list of climbs. In any case, these lists are great and achievable to accomplish in a hiking season thus may be a great addition to your backwoods New Year’s resolution. Tip: some of these are far less crowded than the ADK 46 or New Hamshire 48… so if you are trying to avoid the crowds head north.

The Catskill Fire Tower Challenge

This is one of the better-known climbing lists. Everyone loves a fire tower. With the 360-degree views, history of the tower, the thrill of the climb, and fun of standing in the tower cab, what’s not to like.

In the Catskills, you have 5 restored towers to climb. Each tower has more than one approach and they vary in intensity, you pick! Also, each one has its charm. Hunter Mountain boasting the highest fire tower in New York to Overlook Mountain and its hike past an old abandon hotel ruins you’ll find something of particular interest on each mountain. Hike all five and get a patch from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

More on the Catskill Fire Tower Challenge

The Peaks/Hikes:

Hunter Mountain – 4032’ Elevation
Balsam Lake Mountain – 3729′ Elevation
Overlook Mountain – 3140′ Elevation
Mount Tremper – 2740′ Elevation
Red Hill – 2990′ Elevation

The Saranac 6er Hiking Challenge

In the Adirondacks, around and about the beautiful town of Saranac Lake, sits 6-peaks that make up the Saranac 6ers. Saranac Lake located in heart of the Adirondack High Peaks region offers some of the region’s most beautiful views without climbing over 4000’. These hikes range from short 1.8-mile to 10-mile round trips. Like all Adirondack hikes, make sure you’ve got your bug protection in-season as the Adirondack black-flies will love you to death. 

After anyone of these hikes stop in Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, or Tupper Lake and check out one of the area’s many great eateries. After your done with your list, send your completed form to the Village of Saranac Lake to become a 6er and get your patch and window decal!

More on the Saranac 6er Hiking Challenge

The Peaks/Hikes:

McKenzie Mountain – 3822′ Elevation
Ampersand Mountain – 3353′ Elevation
Scarface Mountain – 3054′ Elevation
Haystack Mountain (Saranac) – 2864′ Elevation
St. Regis Mountain – 2874′ Elevation
Baker Mountain – 2452′ Elevation

The Vermont 4000 Footers

So you don’t have the time to hike the Adirondack or New Hampshire peaks above 4000’? This may be the place you want to come. Hike all the 4000’ peaks in The Green Mountain State. These fun – and vigorous hikes – will please even the most hardcore peakbagger. What awaits you is five wonderful peaks, three of which have alpine summits! The state’s highest point, the 4395’ summit of Mount Mansfield boasts about 200 acres of alpine landscape. That’s over two-times that of all the Adirondack High Peaks! What’s best is you can easily knock off a state of high peaks in one hiking season.

The Peaks/Hikes:

Mount Mansfield – 4395’ Elevation
Killington Peak – 4235’ Elevation
Camel’s Hump – 4083’ Elevation
Mount Ellen – 4083’ Elevation
Mount Abraham – 4006’ Elevation

Maine’s Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit

The Pine Tree State offers some of the best hiking in the Northeastern United States. Maine’s highest point, Mount Katahdin is hiked by thousands and is a traditional finishing point on the Appalachian Trail. With that said, there are many other places to enjoy Maine’s rich outdoors and The Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit promotes hiking mountains in the Moosehead Lake Region. 

Having generally short-moderate distances and elevation gain ranging from about 740’ to 1900’ and combined with great views, these peaks are worthy to be on any hiker’s bucket list. Add the fact that one of the peaks require a ferry shuttle to get to the trailhead, well, that sells it for us!

More on the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit

The Peaks/Hikes:

Whitecap Mountain – 3644’ Elevation
Big Moose Mountain – 3196’ Elevation
Number Four Mountain – 2890’ Elevation
Eagle Rock – 2290’ Elevation
Borestone Mountain – 1923’ Elevation
Mount Kineo – 1450’ Elevation

 New Hampshire The Belknap Range Challenge

Although this challenge has 12 peaks, the most on the list, it also has no peaks that eclipse 2500’. The highest on the list is Belknap Mountain (2382’) and the shortest being Whiteface Mountain at a height of 1664’. Don’t be fooled, even though these peaks don’t reach the lofty heights as others do on many hiking challenges or are as challenging, many of the peaks offer 360-degree views from their summits!

More on the Belknap Range Challenge

The Peaks/Hikes:

Belknap Mountain – 2382’ Elevation
Gunstock Mountain – 2245’ Elevation
Piper Mountain (North) – 2044’ Elevation
Mount Klem – 2001’ Elevation
Mount Mack – 1945’ Elevation
West Quarry Mountain – 1894’ Elevation
Straightback Mountain – 1890’ Elevation
Mount Rand – 1883’ Elevation
Mount Major – 1786’ Elevation
Mount Rowe – 1680’ Elevation
Mount Anna – 1670’ Elevation
Whiteface Mountain – 1664’ Elevation

There are at least 25 challenge lists in the northeast. It seems as if new challenges pop up every year. Some don’t go to high places such as the Catskill Lean-to Challenge, but all are fun. If you’re on the hunt for a new or want to hike in different states maybe consider the challenges on this post. Happy hiking!

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