52 in 52: The Ultimate Northeast Peakbagger’s Checklist

It’s time to put 2020 in the past (phew!) and start looking ahead. If you dream of filling your 2021 with sitting on craggy mountain tops, running narrow ridgelines, and exploring high places, then we’ve got the list for you. Below are 52 peaks to explore over the next 52 weeks.

Hiking along Franconia Ridge. | Credit: Tim Peck

Winter

  1. Kick off the new year with an ascent of the Northeast’s tallest mountain via its most classic route—the Lion Head on Mount Washington.
  2. What’s better than hiking up New Hampshire’s Mount Moosilaukee? Skiing down it!
  3. Tick not one, but three High Peak summits—Wright, Algonquin, and Iroquois—with a winter traverse of the MacIntyre Range.
  4. Summit Mount Watatic, the southern terminus of the Wapack Trail, and enjoy some pow on the descent. It’s so nice, you’ll want to summit twice.
  5. Climb Mount Colden by the Trap Dike. (Bonus points for skiing back down it.)
  6. Slide into New Hampshire’s 52 With a View with a ski ascent/descent of Mount Cardigan.
  7. Tag two New Hampshire 4,000-footers on one of the most stunning hikes in the White Mountains: Franconia Ridge.
  8. Take the road less traveled by a ski ascent/descent of Whiteface Mountain on the auto road.
  9. Challenge yourself on one of the premier mountaineering routes in the Adirondacks (and tick the tenth highest peak in the range)—the North Face of Gothics.
  10. Get a start on earning your membership to the Catskill 3500 Club with an ascent of Panther Peak, or one of these other awesome winter hikes for aspiring Catskill 3500ers.
  11. Get off trail in the Adirondacks and bushwack to the summit of Number 8 Mountain.
  12. Dip your toe into winter hiking with an ascent of Bauneg Beg Mountain in North Berwick, Maine.
  13. Climb New Hampshire’s best moderate ice climb, Shoestring Gully, then scamper to the top of Mount Webster.
Taking in the views from the rocky summit of Monadnock. | Credit: Tim Peck

Spring

  1. Beat the crowds to the summit of Mount Monadnock—the U.S.’s most-hiked peak—with an early season ascent.
  2. Summit one of the Catskill’s two 4,000-footers, or put your early season legs to the test and try to do them both in a day.
  3. The Thunderbolt Trail on Mount Greylock is one of New England’s most historic ski runs, but once the snow melts, it’s time to challenge your hiking legs on its steep slopes.
  4. “Hike” or “non-technical climbing route”? Either way, the Precipice Trail is one of the best adventures in the Northeast.
  5. Go bouldering and tackle tiny rocks in the country’s smallest state at Lincoln Woods—the Iron Cross boulder might only be 10ish-feet tall, but conquering it by its namesake problem is an accomplishment any pebble wrestler will appreciate.
  6. Take on Connecticut’s tallest peak, Bear Mountain
  7. Climb the fire tower that adorns the summit of New Jersey’s Apple Pie Hill—the highest point in the Pine Barrens at 209 feet above sea level—with a backpacking trip on the Batona Trail.
  8. Ski season at Killington winds down at the end of spring, but hiking season at Killington is just starting.
  9. Escape to warmer weather and complete Virginia’s Triple Crown.
  10. Tick off the peaks along the Skyline Trail in the Blue Hills while the more northern mountains thaw out.
  11. Take in one of the best views in the White Mountains from the summit of Mount Carrigain (and don’t forget to check out the ghost town near its base).
  12. Lay low during mud season, but not too low with an ascent of Vermont’s 968-foot-tall Mount Philo.
  13. Hike to the top of Bald Mountain and take in the views of Sugarloaf and Mount Washington, both of which might still have snow (and skiers!) on them.

Summer

  1. Visit the summit of Monument Mountain and earn bonus points for reciting the famous William Cullen Bryant poem of the same name at the peak.
  2. Avoid crowded summer trails on a trip to the top of Mount Isolation or one of the other often-avoided New Hampshire 4,000-footers.
  3. A dip in a lake is a favorite summer activity for some, others prefer a stellar summit in the Lakes.
  4. Visit Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, Vermont….ugh, we mean summit Camel’s Hump.
  5. Try a classic Northeast Sufferfest like the White Mountain Hut to Hut Traverse. Let us know if you remember summiting South Twin! 
  6. Summit, swim, and sit back with your toes in the sand on the Beehive in Acadia National Park.
  7. Take advantage of long summer days to make this nearly 15-mile trek to the tallest peak in the Adirondacks, Mount Marcy.
  8. Discover what the Von Trapps meant when they sang, “The hills are alive…” on Vermont’s Mount Mansfield.
  9. Summit Mount Katahdin then edge your way across its most recognizable feature—the Knife Edge Trail.
  10. Take a trip to the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy and climb the highest hill in Providence, Rhode Island, at 296 feet above sea level.
  11. There’s no better trip in the White Mountains for standing on the summits of 4,000-footers than the Pemi Loop—you can tick twelve summits from your list, a quarter of the NH48!
  12. Tackle one of these popular Franconia Notch peaks from a different direction.
  13. Climb the aptly named Ladder Trail to the summit of Dorr Mountain and take in the incredible 360-degree view.  
Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. | Credit: Tim Peck

Fall

  1. Get an early start on the South Ridge on Cadillac Mountain and be one of the first people in the U.S. to see the sunrise.
  2. Explore a local foliage fave, Pack Monadnock, in southern New Hampshire. If your legs are springy, add North Pack to your hike as well.
  3. Get out of The City for some hiking—try Bear Mountain or one of these other spectacular peaks. 
  4. Dodge leaf peepers and peak baggers on Mount Guyot or one of these other non-counting New Hampshire 4,000 footers.
  5. Enjoy the foliage from two of Pennsylvania’s best viewpoints, the summits of Pulpit the Pinnacle.
  6. The top of the Eaglet in Franconia Notch is undoubtedly one of the most striking spots in the Northeast.
  7. There’s no better time for a trip to South and North Hancock than after the leaves have hit the ground and traffic quiets down on the Kancamagus.
  8. Bag your first ADK 46er with a trip to the top of Cascade Mountain.
  9. Country roads, take me home / to the place, I belong…West Virginia, mountain(s).
  10. Make the march to the summit of Storm King Mountain and then take a break for a beer at Industrial Arts Brewing Company.
  11. Summit four New Hampshire 4,000-footers—Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, and Washington—on a hike along  the country’s oldest continuously maintained hiking trail, the Crawford Path.
  12. Cross the summit of six more New Hampshire 4,000-footers off your list with a backpacking trip across the Carter Range.
  13. Sneak in a trip up Maine’s Mount Reddington before winter conditions make it one of the Northeast’s toughest climbs.

Let’s hope the weirdness peaked in 2020 and we can focus on getting to the top of these 52 peaks in 2021!

Descending Killington. | Credit: Tim Peck