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Who would've thought that, among the non-stop metropolises and historic settlements that the USA's eastern reaches have so much wilderness to offer? See for yourself as you embark on a nine-day trekking adventure with Lonely Planet and Intrepid, taking on parts of the mighty Appalachian Trail. Get wild in New England, find your feet along Franconia Ridge and test your endurance with a hike to the summit of granite behemoth, Mt Katahdin. With a local leader joining you every step of the way as you set up camp and hike to mountain huts - and options to suit your own trekking level - you can truly discover the rugged landscapes, pine-topped ranges and lake-dotted valleys of the Appalachians.
Day 1: Boston
Welcome to Boston – the historic big city with a neighbourhood feel. You’ll meet the rest of your group and your local leader at 6 pm for an important welcome meeting. Later, you could venture out for dinner. Located on the East Coast, Boston has some dynamite seafood. If you want to try a classic local dish, your leader can give you the lowdown on where to get the best clam chowder.
Day 2: White Mountain National Forest
The wilderness is calling and today you’ll answer. A half-day drive will deliver you to Franconia Notch State Park, where bubbling brooks cut through thick hardwood forest and granite cliffs lead to alpine peaks. Setup camp at Lafayette Place and then embark on your first Appalachian Trail hike, a 3-kilometre (1.9 mile) round trip to secluded Lonesome Lake, where still waters reflect the hills and mountains that surround it. This moderately challenging trek is a good way to get acquainted with the terrain, and your leader will give you instruction along the way.
Day 3: White Mountain National Forest
After an early morning wake-up call, pack up camp and set out on the stunning Franconia Ridge Trail, one of the most famous and beloved sections of the Appalachian Trail. You’ll walk for about 10 kilometres (6 miles) and the path is often rocky. It’s also steep – the trailhead (beginning of the hike) sits around 600 metres (2000 feet) and you'll climb roughly 900 metres (3000 feet) reaching around 1520 metres (5000 feet) above sea level. These conditions are demanding, but the sight of the jagged mountainside and lush forest are unforgettable. Views aside, there’s another reward waiting at the end of your trek – an included dinner at the Greenleaf Hut on Mt Lafayette. You’ll spend the night in this beautifully situated backcountry cabin, which has been a hiker’s haven since 1930. Sitting right on the tree line and looking over Eagle Lake, the accommodation tonight is a true off-the-grid highlight.
Day 4: White Mountain National Forest
Make the roughly 5-kilometre (3 mile) descent to Lafayette Place. Going downhill on the uneven ground isn’t easy, but you’ll get some more of those unforgettable views on the way. During the flatter sections, scour the sky for hawks and keep an eye out for American redstarts and sparrows in the trees. Sit down for lunch at camp and then decide whether you’d like to partake in an optional hike or take a trip on the historic Cog Railroad. Those who choose the railroad will ride the car on a three-hour roundtrip to the summit of Mt Washington. It’s quite a steep journey on a wooden track, and if it’s clear, you’ll get incredible views of the ranges from the open windows.
Day 5: Baxter State Park, Maine
Leave behind the thickets of White Mountain for Baxter State Park, where Mt Katahdin towers over the low lakes and spruce trees. It’s a 6-hour drive to your next destination and you’ll set up camp upon arrival. Park namesake and conservationist Percival P Baxter was right when he praised the mountain for its ‘massive grandeur’. In the evening, you might want to take part in an optional float plane trip, which takes you soaring above the incredible landscape of Baxter State Park and delivers you for dinner in a backcountry cabin.
Day 6: Baxter State Park, Maine
The official terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mt Katahdin takes your breath away in more ways than one. If you decide to tackle the famed trek, you’ll need to scramble – using your hands to climb up and over boulders – for a large part of it and maintain footing on jagged rocks. Precipitous ridges, steep inclines and a certain amount of exposure are unavoidable and a round trip (15.8 kilometres or 9.8 miles) can take 8–10 hours. But there’s a reason this is one of the most celebrated hikes in North America. Even though it’s well-known, foot traffic in the park and on the mountain is tightly controlled, meaning the environment is pristine and relatively untouched. On clear days, the rough terrain and granite cliffs make for epic views, as the parks numerous lakes dot the landscape far below.
Day 7: Baxter State Park, Maine
If you climbed Mt Katahdin yesterday, today you are free to further explore the untamed parkland of Baxter. You may want to explore one of the many lakes by canoe – they’re just a small donation to hire – and on the water, you might be able to spot delicate grey jay birds and sparrows. If you can handle another hike, the trail to Sandy Stream Pond is a half-day hike on mercifully flat ground with great opportunity to spot moose.
Day 8: Boston
After your days in the Appalachian wilds, today it’s time to head back to civilisation. You’ll make the approximately 5-hour drive back to Boston, leaving New England behind. Enjoy a celebratory meal with your group in the city. Later, rest your weary limbs with a well-deserved evening in a hotel bed – a welcome respite after your nights of camping.
Day 9: Boston
With no activities planned for today, you're free to leave your Boston accommodation after check-out. If you're staying on in the city, why not check out an Urban Adventures Bowling and Bites tour? You can smash some pins and some snacks in true Bostonian fashion – see urbanadventures.com/destination/Boston-tours for more information and to book. If you would like to spend more time in Boston, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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