Itineraries: Thrills

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CONNECTICUT

LITCHFIELD HILLS CONNECTICUT

Clarke Outdoors
Make the most of a hot summer day by renting a canoe at Clarke Outdoors; the staff will map out your route and send you down the gentle Housatonic River. 163 Rte. 7, West Cornwall, 860-672-6365, clarkeoutdoors.com.

GREATER NEW HAVEN CONNECTICUT

Sleeping Giant State Park
Sleeping Giant is a hiker’s paradise, with 32 miles of trails ranging from easy strolls to daunting excursions. It also has a nature walk, bridle path, great picnic spots, and good fishing; guided hikes are led year-round. 200 Mount Carmel Ave., Hamden, 203-789-7498, sgpa.org.


GREATER MYSTIC CONNECTICUT

Mataura Sportfishing
Coastal trips, great for novices, focus on bass and bluefish, while big adventurers can set their sights on a 1,000-pound marlin. Captain Tom McLoughlin leads an experienced crew who will help you hook, clean, and gut your fish. 255 Cedar Rd., Mystic, 860-536-6970, mataurasportfishing.com.

NORTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT

Mashapaug Lake in Bigelow Hollow
Bigelow Hollow has pristine, salmon-stocked waters, a public boat launch, canoeing, unlooped trails, and barbecue picnic spots in vast unbroken forest. The 300-acre lake is a great place to while away a day. 860-424-3200, ct.gov/dep.

 

MAINE

SOUTHERN MAINE

Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Rent a canoe or kayak at the Audubon Center and paddle into the 3,100-acre salt marsh that’s home to a plethora of egrets, herons, and glossy ibis. When the summer moon is full, the center also runs guided nighttime canoe tours. Pine Point Rd., Scarborough, 207-883-5100, maineaudubon.org.

WESTERN MAINE

Bethel Outdoor Adventures

BOA specializes in novice-friendly canoeing and kayaking trips on the Androscoggin River, which winds through the mountains of western Maine. Perfect for half- or full-day outings, the tours are gentle enough for the kids. 121 Mayville Rd., Bethel, 800-533-3607, betheloutdooradventure.com.

Magic Falls Rafting Company

The storied rivers of Maine where log drivers once toiled are now frequented by water lovers. For those who crave adventure, the Forks is the ultimate destination, with outfitters like Magic Falls ready to launch you on a tumbling, spinning, thrill-drenched ride. Rte. 201, West Forks, 800-207-7238, magicfalls.com.

Dogsledding at the Telemark Inn

Ditch the snowmobile for Iditarod-style dogsledding—you can enjoy great vistas and friendly dog teams who will happily mush through the White Mountain National Forest trail system. Two- to three-hour trips are available, or try lodge-based packages that include extensive training so you can saddle up Rover when you get home. 591 Kings Hwy., Mason Township, 207-836-2703, newenglanddogsledding.com.

Step Falls

Protected by the Nature Conservancy, Step Falls is a chain of shallow pools connected by slippery granite chutes, all carved from the rock several millennia ago by glacial melt. Reached via a half-mile trail that climbs 300 feet alongside Wight Brook, the waterfall is most dramatic in spring, when water rushes down at about 500 cubic feet per second. Rte. 26, Newry, newenglandwaterfalls.com.

MIDCOAST

Maine Kayak

Paddling the coastal waters is the best way to see ospreys, puffins, seals, and other wildlife; going with a guide lets you focus on the flora and fauna instead of the map. Maine Kayak runs half-day excursions, camping weekends, and luxury inn-to-inn packages. 113 Huddle Rd., New Harbor, 207-948-5194, mainekayak.com.

MT. DESERT ISLAND

Acadia Air Tours

Zen meets high adventure in gliders—engineless planes guided by highly trained pilots. Acadia Air offers three glider packages that give customers a full range of silent flights, from a 20-minute introductory taste to a 40-minute over-mountain thrill ride. 968 Bar Harbor Rd., Trenton, 207-667-7627, acadiaairtours.com.

Acadia Bike

Acadia National Park’s 57 miles of carriage roads are perfect for day trips, and Acadia Bike will get you equipped for the ride. Rent all the gear you need before hopping on the shop’s free shuttle to the park. It also has group tours, kids’ bikes, and tandems. 48 Cottage St., Bar Harbor, 800-526-8615, acadiabike.com.

Aquaterra Adventures

Aquaterra runs kayaking excursions with a licensed guide, top-flight equipment, and expert instruction. Most tours depart just off the company’s Bar Harbor dock. Learn how to paddle, rock, and roll with the best of them.
one West St., Bar Harbor, 877-386-4124, aquaterra-adventures.com.

Atlantic Climbing School

Even tentative beginners can try rock climbing minus (some of) the fear. With a seasoned guide at your side, conquer Acadia’s dramatic sea cliffs while pausing occasionally to revel in the views of Mount Desert’s harbors, bays, and national park. Choose from half-day or full-day courses. 67 Maine St., Bar Harbor, 207-288-2521, acadiaclimbing.com.

Go on to the next page for more adventure vacations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire…