For many hikers, climbing a mountain is enough of a challenge in itself. But some hikers want an extra challenge – a quest – and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with achieving a goal. For those people, there are hiking lists.
The two most well-known hiking lists in the Northeast have to do with climbing 4,000-footers – the Adirondack 46 and New Hampshire 48. But the region has many other hiking lists to tackle, from short lists that are perfect for beginners, to extreme challenges that will test your endurance and mental fortitude. In most cases, hikers receive a certificate and patch for completing a list. And, if you want to make a list more challenging, many have options to complete a list in winter or in under 24 hours (an ultra) to receive a special patch.
Here are some of the best hiking challenges in the Northeast.
Tupper Lake Triad – An ideal starting point for beginners, these three family-friendly peaks in New York’s Tupper Lake region each offer outstanding views of the area’s lakes and mountains. The climbs up Mount Arab (2,545 feet) and Coney Mountain (2,280 feet) are each roughly 2 miles round-trip, while Goodman Mountain (2,178 feet) is 3.4 miles round-trip.
Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit – This challenge tackles six mountains in Maine’s Moosehead Lake region. The peaks range in size from 3,644-foot Whitecap Mountain to 1,450-foot Mount Kineo.
Saranac Lake 6 – These six peaks in New York’s Saranac Lake region are a great introduction to Adirondack hiking. They range from 3,822-foot McKenzie Mountain to 2,452-foot Baker Mountain. Complete the challenge, and you get to ring the 6er Bell in downtown Saranac Lake, in addition to getting a certificate, patch and sticker.
Belknap Range Challenge – This New Hampshire range contains 12 modest peaks, many with spectacular views. The highest peak in the range is 2,382-foot Belknap Mountain, while the shortest is 1,664-foot Whiteface Mountain.
Lake George 12ster – This challenge features 12 fun peaks with great views around New York’s Lake George. To complete this challenge, you’ll hike roughly 40 miles of trails and climb a total of 9,000 feet of elevation.
52 With a View – These 52 New Hampshire peaks are all under 4,000 feet, and all of them reward hikers with incredible views.
Vermont 4000-Footers – This list might only have five peaks, but it features some fun, challenging hikes and includes such iconic Vermont peaks as Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump.
Fire Tower Challenge – For this challenge, hikers climb 23 peaks in the Adirondacks and Catskills, all with vintage fire towers on their summits offering sweeping views of the surrounding area. They range from Owls Head at 4,026 feet to Cathedral Rock at 1,680 feet.
Maine 4000-Footers Challenge – Tackle Maine’s 12 peaks standing over 4,000 feet. Along the way, you’ll enjoy fantastic climbs up mountains such as Mount Katahdin, Old Speck and Bigelow Mountain.
The Terrifying 25 – If you enjoy an element of danger and fear with your hikes, this is the challenge for you. This list includes hiking trails in New Hampshire’s White Mountains that have slides, rock scrambles and boulder caves. It doesn’t include every slide or cave route in the Whites, but it does represent many of the region’s more “interesting” trails.
Adirondack 46 – The ultimate list for New York hikers, this challenge will have you climb all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks that stand over 4,000 feet … at least, in theory. The measurements of some peaks have changed since the list was created. Four peaks on the list are now considered under 4,000 feet, but are still required. Another peak (MacNaughton) has since moved up to 4,000 feet, but is not required on the official list.
New Hampshire 48 – One of the Northeast’s two most iconic hiking lists, along with the Adirondack 46. This list challenges hikers to climb all of New Hampshire’s 48 peaks over 4,000 feet. It includes some of the Northeast’s most amazing hikes, including the region’s tallest peak, Mount Washington.
Catskill 3500 Club – This challenge features 35 peaks in the Catskills standing over 3,500 feet. While it might lack the height of the Northeast’s two most famous lists, it features some of the most challenging terrain in the East. Plus, 15 of the peaks don’t have official trails, and several require difficult bushwhacks.
New England 67 – If you’ve finished the New Hampshire 48, this is the one to tackle next. This list includes all of New England’s 4,000-foot peaks.
New England 100 Highest – Finished all of New England’s 4,000-foot peaks? Good. Now keep going by summiting the region’s 100 highest peaks.
The Grid – This is for hikers who never get sick of hiking the New Hampshire 48. The Grid challenges hikers to complete the New Hampshire 48 within each month of the year. That means completing the list 12 times, for a total of 567 peaks.
The Northeast 115 – Tackle the 115 highest peaks in the Northeast. The list includes the New England 67, the Adirondack 46, plus Slide Mountain and Hunter Mountain in the Catskills.
White Mountains Red-Lining – This challenge has you hiking all the trails in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide. The name comes from the idea of highlighting completed trails on a map with a red marker.
White Mountain Direttissima – Pack well for this one, or get yourself a capable support team. This challenge has you hiking all of the New Hampshire 4,000-footers in one continuous hike.
Northeast Ultra 8 – This challenge requires not just a love of hiking, but extreme ability and endurance. It is different from most of the others on this list, as its focus isn’t on peak-bagging, but instead on tackling eight epic long-distance hikes in the Northeast (see the hikes below).