Set foot on any stretch of trail in New Hampshire and you’ll soon understand why it’s known as, “The Granite State”.
Rock formations are ubiquitous and responsible for the state’s unforgettable vistas. It is a hiker’s paradise, treating you with long stretches along mountain streams and my favorite—above tree line—where you can scamper above the valley fog and delight in views that span hundreds of miles.
The Appalachian Trail leads over the spines of three impressive ranges — the Franconia Range, the Presidential Range and the Carter-Moriah Range — before crossing the Androscoggin River and entering Maine.
Franconia Range (shown above) – Much like the Presidentials, there are long sections of exposed ridge line, where there is no escape from poor weather conditions, you need to choose your traversing days carefully.
Presidential Range – The Presidential peaks create an inspiring set of milestones before you: Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Quincy Adams. Many AT hikers arrange to “slack pack” this section, meaning they carry a day pack instead of trying to tackle the significant ups and downs with all of their hiking gear along for the ride.
Zealand Notch – While the rails that ran into Zealand Notch from the mid 1880s to 1900 are long gone, the wide, gentle trails that remain in their stead provide exceptional access to the mountains deep within the National Forest’s boundaries.
* 2006-2011 data compiled by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
More about the AT
If you are interested in hiking the trail, you may find my book Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on the America’s trail a useful resource. I section-hiked the AT over nearly three decades with a good friend and we learned a lot!
If you are interested in the history of the Appalachian Trail — how the trail came into existence in the first place and the powerful personalities that got it built — you may enjoy my book, Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail.