Published: June/July 2009
East States
Check out the season's best weekend trips near you.
Text by Contributing Editor Robert Earle Howells
New Hampshire
Perfect Timing: Bloom or Bust

“The whole landscape is transformed.” That’s how naturalist Nancy Ritger describes the late arrival of spring on the high slopes of the Presidential Range. “The rugged alpine terrain is carpeted with tiny fragile blossoms.” The eruption includes showy faves like diapensia, Lapland rosebay, and alpine azalea among 75 different alpine flowers—many of them seen only here and in the Arctic—along with four White Mountain natives. Ritger will lead hut-to-hut hikes for the Appalachian Mountain Club timed for the bloom’s apex (June 7–10, 15–18, and 22–24; three nights and all meals, $350; But don’t think the wildflower theme makes these prissy outings; the trips cover 12.3 steep, above-tree-line miles. If you can’t get in on Ritger’s hikes, you can go self-guided throughout the month of June (three nights and all meals, $221).

New York
Yurt With a View

Anyone who has humped a pack up the notorious gradients of the Adirondacks savvies the appeal of hiking a mere two-thirds of a mile to full-service backcountry accommodations. Falls Brook Yurts, in the central Adirondacks between Minerva and Olmstedville, maintains two big yurts replete with skylight, bunks and queen bed, propane stove, and outdoor barbecue. Each sleeps four, and while one sits beneath a canopy of maples and the other a grove of birch, both are close to tranquil brooks. There’s hiking as easy as the 2.5-mile, out-the-door trail to Sherman Pond. Or you can challenge yourself with a peak-bag of 2,795-foot Green Mountain ($95; ).

Trout Unlimited

The Housatonic River looks like a Rocky Mountain trout stream that’s been airlifted back East. In the forested Litchfield Hills, between the 1841 Cornwall Covered Bridge (which is located in West Cornwall) and Cornwall Bridge (which is a town, not a bridge), deep pools house 14-to-18-inch rainbows and browns. May brings a nonstop succession of hatches, from green caddis flies to March browns to golden stone flies. Translation: The dinner bell is ringing, and the fish are feasting. Set up shop at a riverside site in pine-shaded Housatonic Meadows State Park ($13; If you’re not particularly twitchy armed, you can head off on a nice 2.5-mile loop hike up and over Pine Knob (699 feet) or do a stellar 12.5-mile road bike loop counterclockwise on Routes 7, 4, 125, and 128.

100-Mile Paddle

The Schuylkill (pronounced skoo-kill) River Sojourn is no ordinary paddle. It’s the waterborne equivalent of a century ride. But whether you sign up for a day or for the full week’s 112-mile trip from Schuylkill Haven to Philadelphia, you’ll be part of a hundred-person flotilla. The cause is to raise awareness of clean H2O—more than a million people drink Schuylkill water—and the resurgent beauty of a river that ran black with coal silt in the 1950s. Much of the paddling is between densely wooded riverbanks. As one sojourner says of the approach to Philly, “You know the Schuylkill Expressway is on one side, Roxborough on the other, but all you see is green” (June 6–12; $75 a day or $450 for the week; ).