What pairs better in the summer than a cool indulgent scoop of ice cream and a scenic hike? Join me on this summer road trip, where we trek to earn our treats. A road rule to live by: in each location, we’ll hike a trail everyone can explore and complete our adventure with a scoop everyone will enjoy. None of the hikes will require camping/backpacking or technical climbing. Read on for some heavenly East Coast ice cream with noteworthy hikes nearby.


The New England Trail, running 235 miles from the Long Island Sound to the summit of Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, is without question a national treasure. The Connecticut portion has a special place in my heart as a natural oasis, allowing a hiker to step off of a busy street and into nature’s bliss. There are plenty of accessible and enjoyable sections of the national scenic trail, but for today’s adventure, we’ll start on Spruce Brook Road in Berlin and wander down a maple- and ash-shaded path before slowly climbing Lamentation Ridge to Lamentation Mountain, where we can peek at Silver Lake and then descend to Bradley Hubbard Reservoir in Giuffrida Park. When you reach the shore of the lake, you’ll be standing under a canopy of pine trees gazing out at a tranquil lake and rocky cliff. At this point take a left, leaving the New England Trail for just a moment, to continue under the pines and around the reservoir clockwise onto the ridge, passing a natural spring, a small canyon, and numerous lookouts as you walk along the basalt cliff before reaching Chauncy Peak. From Chauncy Peak, you can scout a good portion of southern Connecticut and easily identify Sleeping Giant, Castle Craig, Mount Higby, and other landmarks. At this point, I like to descend to the Giuffrida Park lot where I’ve stashed a second vehicle (or bike) and head for some ice cream.

A few minutes south on Route 372, you’ll find Cromwell Creamery. Spoiler alert: this is one of the best ice creams I’ve had anywhere in the country. The creamery is family owned and operated and is closed during the winter while they craft new flavors. They offer a wide variety with constantly changing specials, making it easy to find too many flavors that suit your taste; I’ve sampled Cool Mint Cookie, Mississippi Mud, S’mores, Bear Claw, Cherry Amaretto Chip, Black Raspberry Mini Chip, and Eskimo Kissesjust to give you an idea of the variety of flavors! The ice cream is the definition of creamy, which is no surprise because their ice cream is made with 14% milk fat. Each scoop is packed with flavor and loaded with tasty mix-ins and the price for the amount of ice cream you get cannot be beat. It’s a great way to wrap up a scenic hike.

Hike Footnote: Park one car at the New England Trail pullout (limited space) on Spruce Brook Road in Berlin or Pistol Creek Park (more space, just up the road) and another vehicle at Giuffrida Park in Meriden. Hike 6 miles one way between the two parking lots or 12 miles round trip, with 900 feet of elevation gained (one way).

Pup cup at Cromwell Creamery
100% of pup cup proceeds at the end of the season will be donated to “Help Willy’s Friends”, an amazing non-profit that supports animals in need. | Photo: Cromwell Creamery

New Hampshire

New Hampshire has no shortage of amazing hikes, but the Morgan/Percival loop might be pound-for-pound the best adventure! From the Mount Morgan trailhead in Sandwich, you’ll begin a gradual uphill hike through a pine forest. Scale a series of wooden ladders onto a ledge surrounded by wild blueberries and enjoy sublime views of Squam Lake, then continue up and across the summits of Mount Morgan and Mount Percival. The descent of Mount Percival offers unique terrain—a collection of large boulders create “caves” to weave through; it’s a little taste of spelunking at 2,000 feet in New Hampshire. As you complete the loop back to your car, wild raspberries line the trail. But, I promised ice cream! So, drive east on NH-113 to The Sandwich Creamery. You know this self-service, small-batch family-owned creamery is the real deal when you see cows directly behind the building. On any given day they may have a limited variety of options, but all the flavors are tasty and they won’t break the bank. All in all, this small creamery in the woods of New Hampshire is an experience you’ll be eager to share with friends.

Hike Footnote: Park at the Mount Morgan Trailhead off of NH-113. Hike clockwise 5.1 miles around the loop, gaining 1,500 feet in elevation.

Pre ice cream view from a hike of the Mount Morgan and Mount Percival Loop
Credit: Nick Dagenais


Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks is a sprawling working farm set atop a hill off long and winding Vermont backroads. The sugarhouse is open to the public, and visitors can walk the “maple trail,” winding through the sugarbush, and visit Rex and James, the resident goats. Of course, Vermont is best known for its Green Mountains and maple creemees, and this farm is a perfect spot to enjoy a big helping of both. Their classic maple creemee is best enjoyed on the farm property looking out at the countryside, and their gift shop is great for taking a slice of maple heaven home with you. A trip to this gem of a bygone era is an adventure all its own, but if you’re looking to stretch your legs, about 30 minutes east is Groton State Forest.

Owls Head is a fantastic and fairly quick jaunt that leads to a beautiful scenic overlook, pictured below, of Kettle Pond, Kettle Mountain, and Hardwood Mountain. The trail, about a mile and a half each way, has level and moderate terrain that climbs to a parking area (at the end of Lanesboro Road). The trail to the summit then continues to the left, following the rock steps of a path built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The peak is at about 2,812 feet, where you’ll also find a large stone tower (circa 1935), picnic tables, and a restroom. Besides the vista, Groton State Forest also has a year-round network of hiking trails and one of the state’s largest bogs.

Hike Footnote: The Owls Head Trail starts on the road between New Discovery State Park and the Osmore Pond scenic area (New Discovery State Park charges a fee to enter). A second parking area can be found a short way from the summit (about 1/4 mile) of Owl’s Head at the end of Lanesboro Road. Be sure to check current trail conditions/road and parking closures due to mud/flooding.

Thinking about ice cream at Owl's Head Overlook
View from Owl’s Head overlook.

Rhode Island

Hiking is not limited to the woods—and it is summer, after all—so how about a trek in the Ocean State? Head west from downtown Watch Hill in Westerly and admire beautiful ships gliding through the tranquil waters of Little Narragansett Bay as you walk along the north side of Napatree Point. The Point is a conservation area protected by the Watch Hill Conservancy and visited by many coastal species; most notably, rare birds such as Piping Plovers, Red Knots, American Oystercatchers, and Peregrine Falcons, just to name a few. You’ll catch views of the Watch Hill Lighthouse and other historic manmade features as you complete the three-mile loop around the point. I recommend a trip at sunset to bask in the summer glow and to see the radiant colors dance on the ocean. After such a visual treat, your stomach will be craving one too. Good thing St. Clare’s Annex is only steps away—this Watch Hill staple has been scooping ice cream since 1887. The ice cream is pricey for the quantity, but it’s loaded with flavor that makes it hard to forget. Writing this, I can taste the Watermelon scoop I had last summer. Grab a cone and stroll through quaint downtown or watch children try to grab the brass ring on the nearby carousel. I can’t think of a better summer night.

Hike Footnote: Park in downtown Watch Hill. Access Napatree Point from the end of the Misquamicut Club parking lot. Hike counter-clockwise 3 miles around the point, gaining elevation only when you want to scramble up a sand dune for a better view.

Napatree Point is a great place to enjoy a scoop
Sunset from Napatree Point. | Credit: Nick Dagenais

The Scoop on East Coast Ice Cream

There’s no shortage of fantastic frozen confections on the East Coast in summer, so let’s hear your recommended pairings below! Be on the lookout for the West Coast edition heading your way soon.