This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Best Easy Winter Hikes in the Northeast U.S.

Best Easy Winter Hikes in the Northeast U.S.

There is no winter quite like a northeast winter. Sure, the western states take the stage when it comes to sun-drenched, high-elevation winterscapes, but I’m here to tell you that the Northeastern U.S. is dotted with its own share of pristine winter wonderlands. More than enough to keep hikers, skiers and outdoor enthusiasts knee-deep in cold-weather adventures all season long. 

With idyllic wooded forests, stately mountain ranges and lakes, and a balance of quirky and historical towns within earshot of major metropolises, the Northeastern U.S. may be moody and unpredictable at times, but it packs in a lot of charm even when there’s not a lot of snow. Ready to hit those trails while keeping it mellow? Read on for some the best easy winter hikes in the Northeast U.S! Even though this list keeps the mileage low, you’ll still want to prepare with proper footwear and extra layers.

Gorham Mountain Trail | Bar Harbor, Maine 

  • Length – 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 525 feet
  • Type – Loop
  • Pets allowed – Yes, on leash
  • Fees- Yes

Acadia National Park in the wintertime offers one of the most pristine New England experiences available on the east coast. While choosing a favorite winter trail in the park is no easy feat, The Gorham Mountain Loop easily tops the list because it starts leaving an impression without the effort required of many others in the area. The hike climbs moderately through a spruce and pine-dotted forest, and after a mere few hundred feet of elevation gain, offers an expansive, million-dollar view of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby peaks. Find the trailhead right off the main Park Loop Road.

Route 108 to Smuggler’s Notch | Stowe, Vermont

  • Length – 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 480 feet
  • Type – Out & Back
  • Pets allowed – Yes, Leashed
  • Fees – No

Vermont’s dramatic, winding mountain road Route 108 closes during the winter to become a wide, friendly trail that goes right up to Smuggler’s Notch Pass. At just over a mile to reach the top, it’s a fairly relaxed jaunt that passes through beautiful birch trees, thousand-foot jagged cliffs and behemoth boulders alike. If you’re up for an extra challenge and an extra couple miles, there’s an option to link up with another slightly more difficult route up to scenic Sterling Lake once you’re at the Notch. Park in the Barnes Camp lot, or at Resort Parking if it’s full.

Silver Mine Lake Trail | Southfields, New York

  1. Length – 4 miles
  2. Elevation Gain – 618 feet
  3. Type – Loop
  4. Pets allowed – Yes, on leash
  5. Fees – No

This trail, in New York’s sprawling Harriman State Park, starts at the abandoned Old Silver Mine Ski Area, a once-beloved local slope which has been out of commission since the 1980s. It’s a leisurely, wooded hike that skirts parts of Silver Mine Lake before climbing gradually to a landmark camp shelter from the 1930s. The return route links up with the legendary Appalachian Trail before looping back to the parking area. Especially after a fresh dusting, it’s one of the prettiest slices of nature you can get so close to NYC. And the lake views are worth the drive alone! Watch out for rocks if there’s not a lot of snow cover, though.

Arethusa Falls Trail | Hart’s Location, New Hampshire

  • Length – 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 850 feet
  • Type –Out & Back 
  • Pets allowed – Yes
  • Fees- No

A moderate three-mile trail that gets you to the tallest single-drop waterfall in the White Mountains?  Sounds like a pretty fair tradeoff to me! The popular Arethusa Falls Trail in Crawford Notch State Park demands a consistent uphill for the first mile or so, but it’s nothing technical as long as you watch your footing for ice. Trust that the view once you reach the 176-foot falls –bound to be frozen in peak winter– will be worth every step. You may even catch sight of an ice climber or two traversing the frozen wall! There are two parking areas for the trail on route 302 in Crawford Notch, but note that it starts at the upper (smaller) lot. 

Ponkapoag Pond Loop | Canton, Massachusetts

  • Length – 4.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 158 feet
  • Type – Loop
  • Pets allowed – Yes, leashed
  • Fees- No

It may be one of the gentlest hikes on this list, but the Ponkapoag Pond Loop, just outside of Boston in the Blue Hills Reservation, is still a fantastic way to stretch your legs and get your heart rate going in a serene setting. It’s a wide, mostly flat trail that meanders through red oaks, white pines, and in between massive sculptural boulders, but the star of the show is the Blue Hills marshland. As you pass around the pond, you’ll soon enough find yourself on a maze of “boardwalk planks” that let you float through a protected Atlantic white cedar bog- home to dozens of protected species and sphagnum moss! Peaceful, accessible, and memorable.

Cascade Mountain | Lake Placid, New York

  • Length – 4.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 1850 feet
  • Type – Out & Back
  • Pets allowed – Yes, leashed
  • Fees - No

The 46 “High Peaks” of the Adirondack Mountains carry a bit of a legend’s lore to them. For motivated winter hikers, ticking them all off is a challenge, a reward, and a badge of honor. Luckily, Cascade Mountain, which sits at 4098 feet, is one of the most accessible summits of the group. It’s also one that rewards with a sweeping 360-degree view of the surrounding peaks and greater Lake Placid area after just two miles of trudging uphill! Know that it will be a trudge,though.1800 feet of elevation gain is no laughing matter, but with so many using the trail, it’s often packed down enough to make it easy-going for all skill levels. 

Brousseau Mountain | Norton, Vermont

  • Length – 2.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 630 feet
  • Type – Out & Back
  • Pets allowed – Yes, Leashed
  • Fees- No

As the northernmost trail on our list, this short, secluded, and super scenic hike up to Brousseau Mountain offers a pretty incredible payoff for such a short mileage. Located just south of the Canadian border in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the trail begins in an apple orchard field before beginning a steep scramble up through an old-growth, spruce-fir forest. The burn doesn’t last long though, as the route opens to an amazing viewpoint just below the summit. Your reward is an expansive vista of northern Vermont and New Hampshire’s distant peaks. Due to the remote location, you’ll most likely have the hike all to yourself, too- unless you’re lucky enough to spot the rare Peregrine Falcon, which often nests in the area!

← Older Post