Thru and Long Distance Hiking: From the Sea to the Summits!
Completing the entire 215 miles of the New England National Scenic Trail (NET) is no easy feat! It is a big undertaking, so make sure you are prepared. A traditional thru-hike, like what might be done on the Appalachian Trail, is currently not possible on the NET. Please do not expect the NET to have the same infrastructure or thru-hiking community that the Appalachian Trail has. The NET is special and different and offers its own unique experience.
- A typical thru-hiker can complete the trail in 2-4 weeks.
- The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. Apart from several road walks, the single track trail winds its way along traprock ridges and forested areas. However, it can be rugged in some sections with thru hikers experiencing a net gain of just over 30,000 ft. The highest elevation is Mount Grace, at 1617 ft and the lowest elevation is the Long Island Sound, 0ft.
- New England has varied and extreme weather, please choose the timing of your hike appropriately. Although the trail could be hiked year round, many choose to hike in the spring and fall, as summers tend to be humid and buggy and winters are cold and icy.
- The Trail primarily follows the Metacomet Ridge and water sources are very limited, particularly in the Summer and Fall. Some overnight sites do not have a reliable water source. You will need to plan accordingly.
- After deciding when and where to begin and registering your thru-hike, you will need to plan your resupply points and know camping regulations along the NET.
- Overnight camping is only allowed at designated sites along the trail. Where there is no campsite, thru-hikers are expected to leave the trail to find overnight accommodations. See below for a list of nearby accommodations.
- In addition to these logistics, physical and mental preparations are important factors in a successful long hike. Learn more about all of this below!
- No fees or paid permits are required to use or access the NET. However, some overnight sites have a suggested donation to help with upkeep and repairs.
Northbound- Guilford CT → Royalston MA.
- Some thru-hikers begin their trek at the Southern Terminus of the NET at the Long Island Sound, located in Guildford’s Chittenden Park. The southern Terminus is located just a few miles south of I-95
Southbound- Royalston MA → Guilford CT.
- Some hikers choose to hike southbound, beginning at the Northern Terminus located in Royalston MA. The northern terminus is more remote, it is 0.7 miles off of Hwy. 32, in the woods surrounding Royalston Falls. Please note, there is no major public transportation to Royalston, MA.
Traveling to the trail:
- By Plane: Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, Boston’s Logan International Airport and TF Green Airport in Providence are all within reasonable distance from both NET’s southern and northern termini.
- By Train: Amtrak offers easy access to the trail in Guilford, CT, as well as to Springfield, MA.
- By Car: Please note, if you leave your car overnight at any trailhead you are doing so at your own risk. Consider contacting the local police department so that they know you are leaving your car and are aware of your plans, otherwise they could assume that you haven’t returned from a day hike. Parking near the Southern Terminus is available at the Guilford Amtrak station. Parking near the Northern Terminus is available at the trailhead located on Athol Richmond Rd in Royalston MA. This trailhead is located approximately 1 mile from the NH/MA border. The next road crossing and parking available on the trail is located approximately 1 mile into NH at Green Woods Rd. If beginning near Mt. Monadnock in NH, please refer to the Mt. Monadnock State Park Website for information about parking and local amenities.
Although the New England Trail ends at the New Hampshire/ Massachusetts border, some hikers elect to continue their travels north into New Hampshire. From the NH state line, the Metacomet- Monadnock Trail continues 18 miles to reach the summit of Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH. From there, thru-hikers will sometimes pick up other trail systems that can take them as far north as Canada or west towards Minnesota. If continuing to Mt. Monadnock in NH, please refer to the Mt. Monadnock State Park Website for information about parking and local amenities. To learn more about the NH M&M trail please visit nhmmtrail.org.
The NET has a unique sign marker throughout its length to help hikers stay on the path. This is a sample of the marker. In addition to NET trail markers, the entire 215 miles of trail is marked (blazed) with painted or nail-up rectangles. These blazes are white in MA and light blue in CT and can be found on trees, poles and rocks where appropriate and as needed. The standard blaze is at eye level and about the size of a dollar bill. You may also see plastic triangles in blue (hiking), red (equestrian) or orange (snowmobiles) to denote various trail use in MA.
Printed maps are useful for planning a thru-hike and, in the case of an emergency, are a good source of information on how to get off the trail, nearby amenities and access points. For those using our interactive map on their smartphone, be aware that cell phone service is limited on some parts of the trail. The New England Trail Map and Guide is a two-map set divided along the MA/CT border. It can be purchased in several bookstores and equipment retailers along the trail or online from the AMC bookstore or CFPA bookstore. using the links below. *Please be aware that several reroutes were completed after the printing of the map. Follow blazing in areas where the map and trail differ. Visit the interactive map to learn more.
Registration of your thru-hike is voluntary. However, by registering your thru-hike you are providing the managing organizations (AMC, CFPA and NPS) with important data that can be used to inform trail projects, overnight site improvements and the addition of thru-hike resources. Voluntary registration enables you to enhance the NET experience and enables us to better manage the NET. The voluntary thru-hiker registration also helps prospective thru-hikers share their dates with other hikers in order to avoid overcrowding of overnight sites and to mitigate the social and ecological impacts of overcrowding on the trail. In addition, those who register their hike are eligible to receive the NET thru-hiker patch and submit photos of your journey! Register Here.
Much of our trail crosses over private land. Please respect the landowners that grant us access to this beautiful landscape and resource by following the practices of Leave No Trace. The 7 principles of Leave-No-Trace are Plan Ahead/ Prepare, Travel/Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Water Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife and Be Considerate of Other Visitors. For a full explanation of each principle visit the Leave-No-Trace Webpage.
Overnight camping is only allowed at designated sites along the trail. For a list of sites and to make reservations where applicable, visit the Overnight Sites page. Where there is no campsite, thru-hikers are expected to get off the trail to find local overnight accommodations. Use the accommodations interactive map shown below to find trail adjacent accommodations! Please keep in mind that much of the Trail is on private property and “stealth camping” is not permitted as we rely on the cooperation and partnership of private landowners.