On March 30, 2009, the Mattabasset and Monadnock trails in Massachusetts and the Metacomet in Connecticut were combined and received federal design as the New England National Scenic Trail, or the New England Trail for short. The New England Trail is 220 mile long, running from the Massachusetts / New Hampshire state line down to Guilford, Connecticut. Plans are currently underway to continue the trail all the way to Long Island Sound, so that the trail would descend from its highpoint on the top of Mt Grace in Warwick, Massachusetts all the way down to sea level.
The New England Trail is the second National Scenic Trail in New England. The first was the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia. Along its journey, the New England Trail passes through 39 towns, each with its own unique New England flare. The New England Trail is the first National Scenic Trail to be located entirely within New England.
The New England Trail can be enjoyed with day hikes, segment hikes or a single through hike depending upon your time, stamina and level of commitment. Each hiking style has its own benefits and rewards.
Choose your day hike with a particular destination in mind. This might be a scenic outlook or historical location, or it could simply be a definite a segment of the trail. Your day hike can be all day, or just a few hours. In fact it is usually best to plan a day hike not to take the whole day, so that you have plenty of time to linger at your destination, or to stop and take pictures along your way. A picnic lunch is a great way to add extra enjoyment to a day hike.
Segment hiking is a great way to explore the entire New England Trail, even if you only have the time to do one day hike at a time. If you choose, or if you have the extras time, you might consider including at least one overnight segment to give a new dimension to your exploration. When you make the decision to complete the trail in segments be flexible in your planning, and be open to new ideas.
Unlike day hiking, every section may not lead to a prime destination. Keep in mind achieving personal goals as well as physical destinations. You might push yourself in one segment to test your endurance, while lingering in another to take time to explore your journey on a more spiritual level, or you might challenge yourself by hiking during a different time of year, or different weather conditions. Remember, however, to always take the weather conditions into consideration and dress properly and bring provisions and emergency equipment to meet any conditions you might expect.
Through hiking the New England Trail is the ultimate commitment to experience everything the trail has to offer, and to test your ability to meet each of these challenges. Plan your way hike as you would a segment hike, with each day being a different segment. Be realistic about your goals and pick a time period to complete your hike that matches your experience. Be sure you have equipment and clothing to meet your needs for the entire time. Through hiking is all about the challenge. Be sure you are prepared for it.
Whatever type of hiking you choose, day hiking, segment hiking or through hiking, the key is to get out and enjoy yourself. The New England Trail is a great way to do just that.