Outdoor Activities

Hiking and Biking

Beehive Trail in Maine’s Acadia National Park

The hiking in New England is some of the best anywhere. The Appalachian Train extends through Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, terminating at Mt Katahdin in Maine. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are among the very best with 48 peaks above 4000 ft and many dozens of hikes. Some of these are described at Visit White Mountains. The Appalachian Mountain Club and AllTrails are also excellent resources. AllTrails has published a list of the 10 best White Mountain hikes. The Boston Globe has published a nice compilation of early season hikes in New Hampshire. Acadia National Park is another extraordinary place for hiking. The 120 miles of hiking trails (Acadia Activities Brochure) were mostly built in the early 20th century and vary from gentle woodland and oceanside walks to exhilarating cliff climbs along ledges assisted by iron ladders and steps cut into the rocks. Mt Monadnock is another excellent spot for hiking. The solitary mountain is located just over the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, about an hour from Boston, and has excellent views. The surrounding region is charming and contains numerous prototypical New England villages. For kids, the 70 ft high, quarter mile long Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, MA offers rock caves and many fun climbing challenges. There are also a number of great short hikes for kids in the greater Boston area

Pond along the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Biking is also excellent in New England, both mountain biking and trail riding, including numerous rides in the Boston area. Acadia National Park has 50 miles of beautiful, fine gravel carriage roads (and here), which wind among the lakes and mountains, with fabulous views and some exciting ups and downs. They were built at great expense by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940, and are now used for biking and horseback riding (no motor vehicles allowed). The trails are listed among the Most Epic Rides in US National Parks. On Cape Cod, the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail is newly refurbished. It extends from Dennis to Wellfleet along ponds, salt marsh and cranberry bogs. This is only one of many bike paths
created from old rail-road lines. (See also). In Rhode Island, the 14.5-mile, paved East Bay Bike Path hugs the coast from Providence to Bristol, passing a wildlife refuge, salt- and freshwater marshes and an open panorama of Narragansett Bay. For mountain bikers, Sunday River Ski Resort in Maine offers weekend lift service to 25 trails covering over 20 miles of terrain.


There are numerous opportunities for zip lining in New England. For adrenaline junkies, some lines are more than a half mile long and 200 ft in the air. Others involve tours combining multiple zip lines, sky bridges, rappels and other challenges.

Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing under Old North Bridge on Concord River

In the Boston area there is very enjoyable canoeing on the Charles River and on the Concord-Sudbury-Assabet Rivers. The latter offers an opportunity to paddle under the historic Old North Bridge and into the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge beyond.  The enormous numbers of lakes in the northern Maine Wilderness offer exceptional opportunities for extended fishing, camping and canoeing trips. One of the most famous is the trip down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. For something more casual on a summer day Farmington River Tubing in New Hampshire provides a cooling 2.5-mile tube ride down the Farmington River and a bus ride back to the launch point.

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River


There are a wide variety of whitewater rafting trips available in Western Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England, varying from Class II-III rapids up to Class IV on parts of the Kennebec and Dead Rivers in Maine.

Skiing and Boarding

Jackson Ski Touring

New England has 56 downhill ski areas, from small family-run operations to giant destination resorts. The snow conditions are less predictably excellent than in the West, but the resorts are more accessible to those wanting day trips. The Blue Hills is a small area just south of the city and offers night skiing. Larger areas within 1.5 hrs distances include Waterville Valley, Sunapee and Loon in New Hampshire. The largest and most popular areas, like Killington, Stratton, Sugarbush and Stowe in Vermont; Cannon and Wildcat in New Hampshire; and Sunday River in Maine are 2-3 hours driving distance. Sugarloaf, a terrific mountain in Maine, is even a bit further. Virtually all New England ski areas also cater to snow boarders.

For cross-country skiing, it’s hard to beat the trail system in Jackson, NH, which is also about 2.5-3 hrs away. Imagine a whole New England Village dedicated to Nordic skiing, with a white-steepled church, covered bridges, rivers with cascading waterfalls, sundry eateries, charming country inns and 100 miles of cross country ski trails. Its no wonder that Jackson is listed #1 in the US by GORP. For cross-country skiing close to Boston, the Weston Ski Track is recommended.

Fishing and Whale Watching

Faculty member Tom Look with a striped bass caught in Boston Harbor on a fly rod

Boston is a worldwide destination fishery for striped bass, blue fin tuna, blue fish, flounder and cod. Salt-water fishing is especially popular, and colleagues with boats and experience are available within the program to introduce interested individuals to the sport. Boston Harbor has been completely cleaned up beginning in the 1980s with the installation of the massive Deer Island water treatment plant, and its waters are now pristine.

Striped bass migrate north to Boston harbor in early May, and the 39 Boston Harbor Islands provide ideal structure and a very picturesque venue for striped bass fishing. In August and September, medium sized blue fin tuna (30 to 120 lbs) move into Cape Cod Bay near Boston, and feed actively on the surface, becoming prime targets for light tackle fly and spin fishing anglers. Tuna travel with whales, providing interesting whale watching opportunities on Stellwagen bank while searching for the elusive schools of tuna. Bluefish arrive around the same time as the tuna, and provide exciting surface action as they feed on schools of baitfish in Boston Harbor. Summer is the prime season for salt-water fishing in Boston, but for the dedicated fisherman or woman, large cod fish (up to 50 lbs.) can be successfully targeted with jigs year-around in waters just outside Boston Harbor. All fish species are safe to eat due to the successful harbor clean up. Fresh water fishing is also popular. Freshwater species include: large and small mouth bass, lake trout, perch, walleye, northern pike and land-locked salmon. Fly-fishing (and here and here trout in New England streams is also popular. And, for the hardy there is ice fishing in the winter.