What is the best plan for a four day hike?

12:50 p.m. on July 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Simply put: What is the best plan for a four day hike?

Most likely in New England during fall.

I am looking for a decent trail hike in New Hampshire, Vermont or upstate New York. Trying to make it a three to four day weekend with a few friends. Trying to stay away from the heavily traveled mountains like Washington, Monadnock, etc....
Anyone have a trip they liked?
BTW: I am not an expert but I love to hike so try to bear with me if I have questions.

2:16 p.m. on July 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace! I lived on the other side of the river from Old Saybrook in Old Lyme for four years, I really loved it up there.

A little clarification on your question might help us answer a little better- are you asking for the best trail(s) and route to take, or are you looking for info on how to do it, what you'll need, what to eat, etc?

5:18 p.m. on July 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I haven't been to New England in the fall but if it's anything like the Southeast, there's leaf-peeper mania to deal with, especially on the weekends. Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets its highest visitation during leaf season, for instance.

If you can work the scheduling, it might be worth the effort to do it mid-week.

7:57 p.m. on July 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Oh boy, there are SO many options in New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. I don't even know where to start.

What kind of distance do you want to cover? How strenuous? Are there certain types of trips you like better (lots of peaks to bag, waterfalls or lakes to see, etc...)? That might help us narrow it down for you a bit.

For New England resources, check out the AMC's guidebooks. The White Mountains one for New Hampshire alone can keep you well occupied. For Vermont, there is also the Green Mountain Club and its Long Trail guidebook.

I don't know the Adirondack high points as well.

Tom is correct that there are many leafs to peep at in fall in New England, but it won't be as bad if you go mid-week and get off the main roads.

8:36 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Good Question. I would like a good route to take and where to park. I can pretty much plan food but the water sources are more difficult for me to find. Also knowing the trail restrictions would help.

8:47 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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More good questions. There are four guys in there mid to late twenties and me in my early thirties. We like strenuous hikes that we can brag about to our wives and future girl friends.
I prefer the peaks above tree line or at least a little bare to get a 360 degree view but I really enjoy getting attacked by the Gray Jay birds. Seriously, they are friendly than my buddy's dog.
I have these guide books but not enough experience to say "hey, this looks like a good trail". A lake with a swim area or a public shower is definite for after. I can't stand the smell of this one buddy after 10 mins never mind 4 days and a long car ride home.
The distance we want to cover is basically two days hiking in and two days hiking out but with spare time to take in the fresh air and scenery.
I hope this helps.

4:01 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Metropolis - A great section for hiking in the New Hampshire whites is the Franconia State park area. There is a campground off route 93 called Lafayette place - during fall since it is not peak season, it is cheap, or if you go late enough, free but still open for camping.

From that base camp, you have almost unlimited options for hiking and climbing. There is North and South Kinsman, Cannon Mountain, Mt Lincoln, Mt Lafayette, Little Haystack Mountain, Mt Flume, Mt Liberty, and others.

One great day trip you can take is the Franconia Ridge Loop. It starts just a few hundred feet from the campground, goes up Falling Waters trail which is very steep and strenuous and passes by many waterfalls, goes above tree line to the summit of Little Haystack at 4800 ft or so. Then from there, completely exposed above tree line, you hike across the Franconia Ridge, which takes you up to 5100 ft atop Mt Lincoln, and then up even more to just over a mile atop Lafayette Mt.

Beware - this hike includes trails that are EXTREMELY exposed to any and all elements. Above tree line there are no protections from wind, rain, snow, and at times heavy storms. The ridge trail can be very dangerous in terms of lightning as well. Also, if you go late enough in the year for potential ice, be sure to have proper equipment for ice climbing and hiking. When icy, these trails are very dangerous. Keep in mind that in the Whites, winter can hit earlier than what would usually make sense. Mt Washington has had snow storms in August before, and it is only about 15 miles to the east.

Keep a close eye on the weather, and be prepared with spare clothing, plenty of food and water, emergency equipment, and more. If you go unprepared and get caught in a storm up there, you literally can't see in front of your face, and you're a long 2+ hours from the shelter of trees when you travel slow with no visibility...if you can even find your way around. You can get into trouble quick.

After the summit Lafayette, the loop goes down a few miles back to where you started and you can go right to your base camp.

I did this in June and it took me about 6 hours. It usually takes 7-9 hours depending on fitness levels.

There are risks depending on weather, but with good conditions, it is literally one of the most beautiful hikes in the country. 360 views of the presidential mountains including washington, and miles and miles of other white mountains. Plus the risk will give you plenty to brag about :-)

Once that is done, you can take some easier hikes up to lonesome lake. There are AMC huts there that you can refill waters and have a snack at, and from there you have 3-4 mountains you could climb if you start the day early enough.

I'd be happy to give more info if you need or want it. Let me know!

8:43 a.m. on August 5, 2010 (EDT)
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I just took a quick look at the trail map for this hike. It looks "Awesome". Thanks for the info. We were trying to avoid icing so our time frame may change a bit based on your advice. Thanks Again.

7:06 p.m. on August 5, 2010 (EDT)
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no problem - if you end up having any other questions I'm more than happy to answer them. I can tell you lots about the trails themselves.

There are great maps of the area that give you elevations, distances, and some come with trail info. I recommend one if you've never done this area. I personally use a pedometer as well, which can be set for feet instead of steps. This allows me to know approximately how far I've been and how far I have to go. Lots of stories about people who get hurt or killed in the Whites who encounter storms, do so because they didn't know how much further they had until they'd reach shelter. The result was either pushing on, when they should have turned around, or turning around when they should have pushed on. I think the pedometers are like 15 bucks, and very valuable.

Plus be sure to leave your itinerary for others so that if you run into any trouble they know where abouts you should be - there is no cell reception there unless you have verizon, which occasionally breaks through.

August 19, 2018
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