Itineraries: Thrills

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MASSACHUSETTS

CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

Discover caves and rock formations with curious names like Fat Man’s Misery. Active types can hike the three miles of trails around the quarter-mile-deep chasm. But beware: The granite gets slippery in winter. 190 Purgatory Rd., Sutton, 508-234-3733.

SOUTH SHORE MASSACHUSETTS

Boston Harbor Diving

Diving in Boston Harbor is not for the faint-hearted, but if you do brave the chilly waters, you’ll be rewarded with a peek at shipwrecks, reefs, and lobster lairs. Join a Boston Harbor Diving Club trip or charter a boat and dive on your own. For DIY types, a $40 season-long license allows you to dive for your dinner at Graves Lighthouse, a popular lobster hangout. 87 Woodside Ave., Winthrop, 617-846-5151, bostondiving.com.

CAPE COD

Cape Cod Rail Trail

Biking is to Cape Cod what riding mopeds is to Bermuda—not only a way to get around, but an activity you can’t miss. This 22-mile trail stretches from Dennis to Wellfleet and rolls past kettle ponds, marshes, and cranberry bogs. Along the way, hit the General Store in Harwich for sandwiches and sit on the porch with other cyclists (follow the sign’s instructions: Democrats to the left, Republicans to the right). 508-896-3491, mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/ccrt.htm

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

CENTRAL NEW HAMPSHIRE

Mount Kearsarge

New Hampshire’s 2,937-foot-tall Mount Kearsarge is home to two state parks. Geology buffs will appreciate evidence of Ice Age glacial activity, while families can enjoy group treks. On a clear day, Mount Kearsarge proffers amazing views of the Green Mountains and Atlantic Ocean. Kearsage Valley Road, North Sutton, Merrimack County, nhstateparks.org.

Rattlesnake Mountain

Rattlesnake Mountain has a range of hiking options for beginners, cliff climbers, and bouldering fiends. At the end of a long summer’s day, cool off in the Baker River, which runs along the base of the cliffs. Buffalo Rd., Rumney, newhampshire.com/nh-towns/rumney.aspx.

Highland Mountain Bike Park

This burly bike park features rider-built trails, rentals, and anything else you need to get you off your posterior and onto the path. Camps and coaches offer techniques that will have you carving dirt in no time. 75 Ski Hill Dr., Northfield, 603-286-7677, highlandmountain.com.

NORTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Alpine Adventures

Zipping from tree to tree, screaming and careening through the canopy…it’s just another day at Alpine Adventures. The outfit recently built a second, higher tandem treetop course in the woods on Barron Mountain. Zip 1,400 feet across a forest expanse, crossing Burma Bridges. If that doesn’t suit, check out their backcountry off-road safaris. 41 Main St., Lincoln, 603-745-9911, alpinesnowmobiling.com.

Franconia Notch State Park

Nestled among the peaks of the Whites, Franconia Notch State Park accommodates a range of abilities. Experienced outdoor types can take on the 8.8-mile Lincoln–Lafayette Loop, filled with rugged woodland terrain and great views. Newbies should check out the New England Ski Museum and the Flume Gorge at the base of Mount Liberty, a natural wonder with 90-foot-high walls of granite. I-93, exit 34A, Franconia, 603-823-8800, franconianotchstatepark.com.

Mount Washington

Drive to the top to earn the ubiquitous “This car climbed Mount Washington” bumper sticker. Better yet, rent a mountain bike at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center to ride the carriage roads at the base of the mountain. The Androscoggin Valley Country Club caters to golfers, and the Cog Railway dutifully chugs passengers to the summit. Rte. 16, Pinkham Notch, 603-466-3988, mountwashingtonautoroad.com.

Northern Forest Heritage Park

You’re not a lumberjack, and that’s okay. But if you wanted to be, this is the spot for you. The powerful Androscoggin River brought with it the growth of a sustainable lumber industry. This park heralds its history and preserves tradition through exhibits, demos, boat tours, events, and a Lumberjack Festival. 961 Main St., Berlin, 603-752-7202, northernforestheritage.org.

Waterville Valley Ski Resort

If a 400-foot superpipe, 259 acres of skiing, lessons for the kids, five dining options, and guided snowshoeing hikes aren’t enough to keep you busy, Waterville Valley also features an ice arena, sleigh rides, and plenty of shops. In the summer, there’s a skate camp, tennis, mountain biking, fishing, and boating on Corcoran’s Pond. Trust us—you’ll need to stay an extra day. one Ski Area Rd., Waterville Valley, 603-236-8311, waterville.com.
 

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