The Pemi Loop. The name alone brings a wistful smile to many a New England hiker’s face. Eight wide-open summits on the New Hampshire 48 list of 4,000+ footers—each offering spectacular views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness—plus four other “optional” 4,000+ peaks bagged via short side trails, help make The Loop an annual addiction for many.
At 281.4 miles, Maine accounts for only 13 percent of the 2,178.3-mile Appalachian Trail. Statistics, however, are for maps. Ask anyone who has completed the entire trail and they’ll likely tell you Maine is the toughest state of the 14 trail states.
If you’re looking to boldly hike where no explorer has gone before, this trail isn’t for you. On the contrary, Mt. Washington is a major New Hampshire tourist destination, and the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is the White Mountains’ version of hiking Disneyland. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t do it. Quite the opposite, in fact. Consider it required reading for hiking.
I’ve never considered myself afraid of heights. Cautiously reserved, perhaps. One could even say I have a strong sense of self-preservation. But downright chicken—who, me? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Katahdin, the crown jewel of Maine’s Baxter State Park, has a not-so funny way of testing this resolve.
This is one kick-ass hike (Mom, I’m sorry for swearing on the Internet) encompassing the Falling Waters, Franconia Ridge, Greenleaf and Old Bridle Path trails. Halfway up I was already ranking it amongst my personal favorites. Not quite Katahdin level, but close.