Itineraries: Thrills

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MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MASSACHUSETTS

True Vineyarders know their island’s about much more than lolling in the sand.

1. More than 350-plus acres of forests, fields, and marshes makes the FELIX NECK WILDLIFE SANCTUARY ideal for exploring.

2. The water-sports gurus at WINDS UP will have even novices surfing, sailing, or windsurfing in almost no time. (Really.)

3. Kids and adults regularly propel themselves off the JUMPING BRIDGE near Oak Bluffs into the cool waters of Sengekontacket Pond.

 

CENTRAL MAINE

Maine’s wilderness fulfills any quest for roiling rivers and craggy mountains.

1. Walking Mount Katahdin’s KNIFE EDGE, a granite path flanked by 1,500-foot dropoffs, is a rite of passage for all climbers.

2. The 92-mile-long Allagash River is a canoeist’s dream, though best navigated with guides from KATAHDIN OUTFITTERS.

3. Rising from the middle of Moosehead Lake, MOUNT KINEO is home to some of the most rewarding hikes in the region.

NORTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE

The White Mountains provide outdoors enthusiasts with the perfect all-season playground.

1. Go screaming and careening through the treetop canopy on ALPINE ADVENTURES zipline tour.

2. The outdoor center at GREAT GLEN TRAILS has plenty of non-hiking options: mountain biking, trail running, Nordic walking, and bird watching.

3. Tackle an eight-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, or go swimming, fly fishing, or rock climbing at FRANCONIA NOTCH STATE PARK.

Go on to the next page for adventure vacation in Connecticut and Maine…

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… 

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.
 

Go on to the next page for more adventure vacations in Rhode Island and Vermont…

RHODE ISLAND

SOUTH COUNTY/ BLOCK ISLAND

Clay Head Trail  

Perched high above Block Island Sound, this meandering little trail offers pretty water views, side trips down to the beach, and a fun series of interconnecting grass trails known as "the maze." Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: The path winds through a 120-acre preserve that hosts nesting and migratory birds. Corn Neck Rd., Block Island, 401-466-2474, blockislandchamber.com.

Ninigret Pond

This 1,700-acre saltwater haven is made for paddlers who love sea kayaking but prefer the serenity—and uninterrupted miles—of quiet water to unpredictable surf. A stone’s throw away from Block Island Sound, Ninigret Pond offers plenty of calm, and has top-notch on-site equipment rentals. 562 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, 401-364-8000, kayakcentre.com.

Block Island Parasail & Watersports

Your kiddos will love the thrill of holding on for dear life on a banana boat in Old Harbor. Towed by a speedboat, the big yellow raft tears through the ocean. If that’s not enough, look into the company’s other adrenaline-pumping option: parasailing. One Old Harbor Dock, Block Island, 401-864-2474,
blockislandparasail.com.


NEWPORT

America’s Cup Charters (BEST OF)

Not only have these seven boats raced in the America’s Cup, but they also make up the largest fleet of 12-meter yachts in the world. Charter one for a private sail or go for the more wallet-friendly two-hour group cruise. You can participate or simply sit back and enjoy Narragansett Bay. Newport, 401-849-5868, americascupcharters.com.  

THE BAYS

Audubon Society of Rhode Island Environmental Education Center

The 141/2-mile East Bay Bike Path from Bristol to Providence passes right through the 28-acre McIntosh Wildlife Refuge, where the education center is located. Cyclists wanting to take a break can easily hop off and explore a variety of natural habitats, check out Rhode Island’s biggest aquarium, and experience the interactive environmental exhibits before heading back out to the bike trail. 1401 Hope St., Bristol, 401-245-7500, asri.org.

East Bay Bike Path

As it stretches from Providence to Bristol, this scenic, mostly flat—it’s on an old railroad line—141/2 mile path runs over bridges, through state parks, and alongside Narragansett Bay. Plan a much deserved rest stop at one of the many ice cream shops (Daily Scoop in Barrington, Fruity Cow in Warren, or DariBee in Riverside, among others) along the way. Veterans Memorial Pkwy., 401-253-7482, riparks.com/eastbay.

Weetamoo Woods

Just a half mile from Tiverton Four Corners, this five-mile trail (named for female sachem of the Pocasset tribe that wintered here) traverses several streams in its ascent to High Rock, a 170-foot summit that’s easy for the kids but still affords impressive views. East Rd., Tiverton.

GREATER PROVIDENCE

Blackstone Valley Bicycle Path

This path will eventually be a 17-mile-long bikeway linking Woonsocket to Providence. The recently completed first leg stretches eight miles from Front Street to Woonsocket and is open to bikers, walkers, roller skaters, and baby strollers. Parking is available along the route. Front St., Pawtucket, 401-723-7892, cycleblackstone.com.  

Lincoln Woods

Fewer than 15 minutes from Providence, this 627-acre woodsy sanctuary is a favorite place to commune with nature. With options ranging from fishing, kayaking (there’s even an on-site kayak school), and swimming in the freshwater Olney pond to power walking and jogging along the preserve’s 21/2-mile paved loop, every member of the family will find something that appeals. 2 Manchester Print Works Rd., Lincoln, 401-723-7892, riparks.com/lincoln.htm.

 

Go on to the next page for more adventure vacations in  Vermont… 

VERMONT

SOUTHERN VERMONT

Hogback Mountain

The 100-mile view from Hogback’s scenic overlook is the ultimate autumn reward, offering colorful vistas. But you can stop by during any season—the gift shop is open year-round and the view is always spectacular. Rte. 9, Marlboro, 802-464-5494.

Stratton Mountain Resort

Stratton is a wintry haven, boasting nearly 600 acres of terrain for skiers and snowboard enthusiasts. Snowboarding was, in fact, invented here, and the U.S. Snowboard Open is still held at the resort every March. Skiers can choose from plenty of slopes accessible from the high-speed gondola or 13 other lifts stationed around the mountain. Stratton Mountain Rd., Bondville, 800-787-2886, stratton.com.

SOUTH CENTRAL VERMONT

Killington Resort

Anyone who has ever shredded the slopes knows that there are a few key necessities to any good ski mountain: a variety of skill levels, terrain parks, places to chow, and speedy chairlifts. Killington’s got it covered—1,215 skiable acres, a 430-foot Superpipe, three heated gondolas, and plenty of dining options makes the Northeast’s largest resort worthy of its title. During summer months, alpine and water slides, golf, biking, and hiking allow you to pass the time until the snow falls again. 4763 Killington Rd., Killington, 802-422-6200, killington.com.

Mud Pond Loop

The trails circling Randolph were home to the first New England Mountain Biking Festival. The 12-mile Mud Pond Loop is one sweet chunk of bucolic trail riding, lined with endless acres of rich farmland. Trail maps are available at the local Three Stallion Inn. 665 Stock Farm Rd., Randolph, 802-728-5575, 3stallioninn.com.

Quechee Gorge

Conjuring images of Colorado or the Alps, the plunging 165-foot-deep gorge cut by the Ottauquechee River is as unexpected as it is inspiring. A hiking trail leads the intrepid down the sides of the 13,000-year-old natural feature; alternatively, take it in from the pedestrian walkway that flies to dizzying heights along the highway. Rte. 4, Quechee

NORTHWESTERN VERMONT

Burlington Bike Path

Burlington has always had a funky, outdoorsy vibe, nowhere more so than the eight-mile network of paths that runs along Lake Champlain. Located on the route, Local Motion rents bikes and offers maps to this and several hundred more miles of bike trails around the lake. One Steele St., Ste. 103, Burlington, 802-652-2453, localmotionvt.org.

 

NORTHEAST KINGDOM VERMONT

Kingdom Trails

Created by a group of local mountain bikers who secured the permission of 42 landowners, the 100-mile network of Kingdom Trails winds through unspoiled fields, farms, streambeds, and woodlands for the ultimate off-road biking experience. Rte. 114, East Burke, 802-626-0737, kingdomtrails.org.

Jay Peak  

Up in the Northeast Kingdom, just shy of Canada, Jay rewards those willing to make the trek with some of the best skiing in New England. Buried in fresh powder every year, the mountain is kept virtually deserted by virtue of the four-hour drive from Boston. The 60 runs, two peaks, and a ski-anything-in-bounds policy (read: stellar glade skiing) attract telemark and alpine skiers.
4850 Rte. 242, Jay, 802-988-2611, jaypeakresort.com.

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2009/05/itineraries-thrills/