New England National Scenic Trail

The New England National Scenic Trail runs 215 miles from Long Island Sound to the summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock. Along the way, it completely traverses Connecticut and Massachusetts, offering a unique way to experience the west-central parts of each state.

The trail was established by connecting the Mattacomet, Mattabessett, and Monadnock trail systems, plus adding a few extensions to complete the traverse. Having completed the trail, I can say that it provided a very pleasurable and uncrowded hike across and over quintessential New England landscapes, including long traverses of traprock formations, walks along woodland streams, and occasional trips through villages and towns.

As one of the lesser-known National Scenic Trails, the NET doesn’t receive the notoriety or the usage of its more famous brethren, making it an enjoyable destination for sure. Learn more at https://newenglandtrail.org.

New England National Scenic Trail map showing CT section in blue and MA section in red.

A Brief History of The New England National Scenic Trail

Many long-distance trail systems began as smaller trail systems that became linked over time. This is certainly true in the case of the New England Trail.

The Connecticut Forest & Park Association organized the construction and maintenance of the Matacomet and Mattabesett Trails in the 1930s as part of a statewide vision for a blue-blazed hiking trail system.

Further north, in 1951, a professor of botany at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst named Walter Banfield led a small group that began creating an extension of Connecticut’s Matacomet Trail that would extend to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.

Connecting the three trail systems and adding the 17-mile Menunkatuck Trail to the south created a continuous 215-mile footpath through two states now known as the New England National Scenic Trail.