On arrival into New York Airport, please make your way to the start hotel as described in your Final Joining Instructions. The rest of today is free to freshen up and relax after the long flight.
The rest of the group (those who were not on the group flights) will join the group at the New York hotel at 07.30 hrs this morning. After leaving New York- Newark area, we begin our journey (approx. 4 hrs drive) passing through the Catskill Mountains into the state of Massachusetts where Mount Greylock, the highest point in the Berkshire Mountains, and the famous Appalachian Trail awaits. Take in incredible views as we stroll along the wooded paths of the Berkshires that once inspired the famous American authors, Melville and Hawthorne. Today we walk the Hopper Trail, following the blue blazes to the summit of Mt. Greylock (3941 ft). We pass through old growth forest with a variety of trees that are over 150 years old, including Red spruce conifers. This is a point to point walk where you are met at the other end and driven into the foothills of the Green Mountains where you can relax around the evening campfire, topping off an exciting first day.
Mount Greylock: moderate to challenging, 2.7km/1.7miles, 1-3hrs, elevation gain ~150m, max. elevation 3941ft.
'The Greens', as local hikers sometime refer to this small mountain range, are a perfect warm up for the hikes that lay ahead. Today you can choose from various short walks in the wooded valleys however, the guide will take you on a round trip along 'The Long Trail/Appalachian Trail' to Harmon Hill Summit. We follow a wilderness path that runs around and through the ridge of Mount Glastonbury of the Green Mountains near Bennington. Rated as a moderate hike, we begin with a steep ascent up a series of stone steps. After half a mile, the trail levels out and continues through a combination of thick hardwood forest and open meadows. At its 2,325 foot summit, we find views of the Bennington Monument, the Taconic Range, and Mount Anthony. In May wild flowers will be out in bloom, including trout lily (dog-toothed violet), squirrel corn and spring beauties.
Harmon Hill Summit: moderate, 6km/3.7miles, approx. 6hrs, elevation gain ~385m/1265ft. max. elevation ~710m/2325ft.
En route to the camp we stop at the fully functional sugarbush farms to sample (and buy) the fresh cheeses and maple syrup.
You will walk the 'backbone' of the northern Appalachians, the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Many of the trails here are above the timberline offering wonderful views of this impressive range. On arrival we delve straight in to the beauty of this area with a leisurely hike to Lonesome Lake. Most of the trail is tree covered so will be shaded from the sun. The trail leads to the southern end of Lonesome Lake, and if you wish to explore further we can continue on to an Appalachian Mountain hut, and beyond. We will pass through rich, green spruce-fir forest and on a clear day we will be able to see the rugged outline of the Franconia Ridge (to be tackled tomorrow if you like) rising above the trees in the distance.
Lonesome Lake/Appalachian Mountain hut/further extension: leisurely, 2.4/3.2/5.1km (1.5/2/3.2miles), 1-1.5/2/2.5-3hrs, trailhead elevation ~457m/1500ft.
Today we have the opportunity to enjoy the Franconia Ridge Hike that starts right at our campsite. Rated as one of the best hikes in New England, we get to scale three peaks (Little Haystack, Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette) that are all above the timberline and offer wonderful views. This area is known to hikers all over the world, both for its stunning scenery and constantly changing weather. This is a challenging trek past waterfalls, through forest, and involves some scrambling over rocks.
Franconia Ridge: challenging, 17.7km/11miles, approx. 6.5hrs, elevation gain ~1220m/4000ft, max. elevation ~1603m/5260ft.
If you prefer not to challenge the elements on the Franconia Ridge hike, you can catch the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to the summit, which began operation in 1938 and was the first passenger aerial tramway in North America. From the top there are panoramic views of three states.
Day 6 - 8
We travel from one of the most well-known segments of the Appalachian Trail, to the most pristine. Baxter State Park is home to Mount Katahdin, the finishing point of the 2200 mile long Appalachian Trail. Today is a long drive day with stops along the way, but worth the effort. Wander and enjoy the largest and most remote wilderness in the eastern United States. Here you can truly 'get away from it all' on footpaths that wind through undisturbed forest and along the crystal-clear lakes and streams of northern Maine.
Keep both eyes and ears open for the chance of meeting some of the wildlife that abounds here. This tranquil wilderness is virtually untouched since the days of the first settlers, over three hundred years ago. As we pause to reflect in the solitude of this beautiful place, it is quite impossible to imagine that two-thirds of America's population lives within a day's drive.
Over the following couple of days here, there are two options with varying difficulty; the first is Mt. Katahdin/Baxter Peak which is a strenuous hike with considerable elevation gain, taking approximately 10 hours. The terrain is very steep in parts and involves some rock and boulder scrambling. The rewarding views on this trail are some of the finest in New England however, it should only be attempted by those fit enough.
Mt. Katahdin/Baxter Peak: challenging, ~14.9km/9.26miles, approx. 10hrs, elevation gain ~1265m/4150ft, max. elevation ~1605m/5267ft.
The second option is to walk to Daicey and Kidney Pond, a short easy to moderate walk with little to no elevation difference. This is a nature trail with the Appalachian Trail running through a section of it. You can walk in a loop around the pond, making side trips to Big and Little Niagara Falls. If you wish to extend the walk you can also take a side excursion to visit Lost Pond, or head over to explore the Kidney Pond area. Canoes can be rented after a couple of miles, or why not simply sit back and admire the views.
Daicey and Kidney Pond (standard loop around the pond): leisurely, ~3.2km/2miles, approx. 2hrs, little/no elevation gain.
We continue our journey by visiting the incredible Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Acadia National Park is simply one of the most beautiful and magical natural places on the North American continent. Blessed with towering mountains, islands and ocean, it creates a unique sensory splendour that has become the crown and glory of Maine. Towns such as Bar Harbour blend with Acadia National Park land creating a unique blend of pristine landscapes. Rocky coastlines, granite mountains, lakes, moss and evergreen trees, rolling waves and abundant wildlife mix with local character and seafood in this magnificent place. Borders of the park are dotted by picturesque harbour villages such as Bar Harbour, Northeast Harbour, Southwest Harbour and many more.
Of course the reason it has built such an incredible reputation is due to the sheer volume of walking trails. Acadia National Park has about 125 miles of hiking trails which are often interconnected and range in difficulty from easy to strenuous. Add to this the famous Carriage Roads, and the day hiker has a wide selection of enjoyable hiking options. In the afternoon we hike an easy / moderate trail but one of the best of its class in this area.
The unsurpassed scenic Ocean Path walking trail meanders in a southerly direction along the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island for approximately 2 miles until it arrives at Otter Cliff and Otter Point. There are spectacular views of ragged cliffs and the granite shoreline form this trail, and there are numerous points to stop for the perfect picture.
Ocean Path Trail: leisurely, ~3.5km/2miles, approx. 2hrs, little/no elevation gain, max. elevation ~27m/90ft.
For those not wanting to trek today you can try one of the optional excursions this area is so well known for such as sea kayaking, deep sea fishing or shopping.
Today we walk one of Acadia's most beautiful hiking trails, the Acadia Mountain Trail. The walk is moderate/strenuous with a tough scramble up to some spectacular views of the Somes Sound, the ocean, Echo Lake, Gulf of Maine, Cranberry Isles and surrounding mountains.
Acadia Mountain Trail: moderate to challenging, ~3.2km/2.8miles, majority of the day (depending on pace), max. elevation ~210m/690ft.
From Acadia National Park we continue our journey (approx. 6hrs, 460km/287miles) onto Boston through some beautiful and changeable scenery. Boston - the capital of the State of Massachusetts. Founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists, has long been in the forefront of American history and in particular the country's fight for independence. Events like the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party played pivotal roles in that struggle and have become part of American Folklore. Faneuil Hall has been a government centre and a market place for centuries and even today it makes the hive of activity in the city centre.
For Land Only travellers the tour ends at our hotel in Boston at approximately 17:00 hrs.
For those on the group flights, you will depart this evening for your overnight flight arriving into London the following day.
Your overnight flight will bring you back into London this morning where you can say your final goodbye's to those who shared the group flight home with you.