I recently realized that I had explored most of the Appalachian Mountains through many hikes and drives. Let me share:
It may sound like an accident (the discovery of me having traveled across this giant range), and it really is.
You see, over the past few years, I had explored many scenic areas outside New York City, as well as scenic areas in New York State, states south and east of it, and even eastern Canada and when I took a look at a map of the Appalachian Mountains, I was shocked to discover that I really did cover most of this 2,000+ mile range.
It wasn’t even my intent to drive through the Appalachian mountains, I was just exploring beautiful spots in states I was visiting, and most of them happened to be along this range, so it worked out just fine! So on the list I’ll be covering, here is how the 20 places will be explained:
- 10 will be scenic drives I did on this range.
- And the other 10 of them will be hikes I did along the range.
- And this will make for a total of 20 scenic drives and hikes (which I will update when I try more of them).
So if you’re into hiking, but don’t want to do the entire Appalachian trail (like myself), then this will be a perfect list for you.
And if you’re interested in just driving across this range and seeing the best spots, but not getting too physically involved in hiking in it or camping out on it (again, like me), then this list is also perfect for you. You can also include your own list below if you wish to add to the ones here.
First, of all, let me give you the following information:
Here is a map of the entire Appalachian mountain range:
Now this is my own screenshot of the trail and range (and 10 locations on it which both have hikes and scenic roads you can check out), but for a more specific look at the map of the range, you’re welcome to visit the Wikipedia page on it here.
And I’m still shocked that I covered about 90% of it, again without any intent of doing so! In fact…
My first road trip outside of New York City took me through the north east of the United States and covered about 20% of the Appalachian Mountains.
My second scenic road trip took me through the pretty much all of the southern and mid section of the Appalachian Mountains (about 60% of it) and also had me re-explore many of the same spots of my first road trip.
And finally, my third road trip across the east coast of the U.S and Canada, had me explore the northeastern part of the Appalachian Mountains that spanned all the way into Canada.
But anyway, what I have done on this particular map is label the most specific regions of the Appalachian mountains (green) and areas close to it which in some cases count as part of it (red). Some of the drives and hikes I will be giving you are in the red areas too (totally worth viewing, trust me).
Let’s start with the 10 scenic roads:
I’ll begin the list by starting in the north eastern end (Canada) which is #1 on the map above and work my way south west end which is in Georgia (which is #10 on the map above).
1) Gros Morne National Park.
This region is unofficially part of the Appalachian range and I visited it last year (On an east coast trip).
Gros Morne features hikes, camping, scenic drives and a lot of wildlife. Now for scenic roads, all you need to do is take the main road which is road 430.
That is the main drive that’ll take you around the park and will you’ll be able to see tons of beautiful viewpoints, towns, coastlines and more. The scenic road itself lasts about 1-2 hours.
I have also included a list of things you can while in Gros Morne National Park here.
2) Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia.
If you decide to head southwest on the Appalachian trail, you will have to cross water, and on a ferry. This will bring you to a port called North Sydney near which the second scenic drive is located, called the Cabot Trail. That itself is a scenic road you can take and enjoy and it also has plenty of hikes around the area worth checking out.
Now I have included a link to specific parts of the Cabot Trail worth checking out, so be sure to check that out!
3) Bay of Fundy.
Bay of Fundy is a large body of water that divided Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It has peaks and ranges near the coast you can check out and it’s also south west of the Cabot Trail. I went there with my friends and here are the scenic spots in Bay of Fundy I recommend checking out.
As for scenic roads, the coastal road (road 114) there will take you across many different beaches with mountains, caves, and alien landscapes that are very picturesque.
4) Baxter State park, Maine.
The Appalachian mountains are said to officially start in the U.S and Baxter State park is where the starting location is. The entire park is a giant series of peaks you can climb up to and drive through. There are plenty of scenic areas to check out as well (the hiking list later on will include a few spots in this location that are out of this world!).
5) White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Along the Appalachian range, there are several places which have tons of peaks to check out and the White Mountains are one of them. This area features huge elevations, one of which is Mt. Washington which is said to have the highest peak in the north east (6,000+ feet). You can also drive to the top of this peak.
In addition, the neighboring peaks in that area feature interstate roads which themselves are scenic to drive through. In our case, we went across interstate 93 and that had plenty of viewpoints to check out such as Cannon Mountain. That will take you through some of the most beautiful spots in this vicinity.
Also note far from this place is a cool spot called Flume Gorge.
6) Adirondack Mountains.
This area is located west of the White Mountains. However, this particular range is not officially part of the Appalachians (some say it is) BUT it is close enough to visit and if you ask me, it is a must see. The entire Adirondack region is well worth checking out. The highest peak there is Mt. Marcy which I believe you can drive up to the peak of.
As for scenic roads, you have 2 awesome choices (and they are parallel and close to each other):
Interstate 87 will take you through this area and the next one on the list (Catskills).
And the second is route 9N which will take you through both Lake George and Lake Champlain, each of which has many spots to stop and enjoy viewpoints from. In fact, since the Adirondacks are in New York State, here’s other scenic drives in the state you can take.
7) The Catskills.
It’s only 3 hours away from NYC, but if you head directly south (if you’re in #5, the Adirondack area), you WILL hit the Catskills along Interstate 87 and be able to drive into the park, and head on it’s own scenic route known as route 23. That will take you across the many ranges there and into trails and waterfalls which I will be covering in the list of hikes coming up.
Here is a photo from a scenic drive in the Catskills:
8) Daniel Boone National Forest.
From the Catskills to Daniel Boone National Forest, you will have quite a drive and pretty much all of it will be scenic, but Daniel Boone National Forest, while also slightly out of the way of the range is still close enough to visit, before you get to the last 2 scenic drives on this list.
Daniel Boone National Forest is in Kentucky and has a beautiful scenic drive that is called 715 and there are many routes from that road such as “Chimney Top Rock Road” which will lead you to beautiful viewpoints that you can hike to, which are close to the roads themselves.
And pretty much any area around the 715 itself has beautiful spots to visit, especially the natural sandstone region, which is iconic for this particular area. I’ll be adding a post on my drive through there for specific details.
9 & 10) The Blue Ridge Mountains.
The last 2 on this list are the largest ranges in the Appalachians, the Blue Ridge Mountains. This area will take you days if not weeks to drive through and explore all the beautiful scenery.
Without a doubt, the MUST see scenic road in this area is the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Now onto the hikes in these 10 spots:
1) Gros Morne National Park.
Well this park alone has 100’s of hikes. I mention a few of them here, but as a reference, the most popular hikes are:
The Tablelands, The Lookout Hills, Trout River (east side of it), long range traverse. I also found a good article mentioning other cool hikes in this park here.
If you’re into seriously beautiful views, those places have them, but some require permission, a reservation and a guide so keep that in mind. You can also hike any of the peaks along the main scenic road I mentioned, there’s plenty of places to stop there, and more than plenty of peaks to go up. You will also see trail heads very often when you are on the main scenic road.
2) Cabot Trail.
Trails are all around this spot and remember, the trail itself is really one long scenic road. You have coastal and mountain hikes that are worth seeing while you are on this path. I have listed a few places, with awesome waterfalls and scenic views here where I explain my visit to the Cabot Trail.
3) Bay of Fundy.
There is a large park called Fundy National Park in this region which has plenty of hikes to enjoy. You will also find plenty of beautiful coastal areas near the scenic road that you can stop at and explore.
There is PLENTY of do at Bay of Fundy and you can get more info on the specific areas to check out for trails and drives in that link.
4) Baxter State Park.
So there’s a few personal recommendations I have…
Gulf Hagas, but bring A LOT of insect repellent because this place has so many bugs that it felt like a insect plague was upon us when my friend and I went through it. BUT this particular park also cross one of the official spots for the Appalachian Trail, and the views are awesome there.
Here’s a picture from Gulf Hagas:
Mount Katahdin. This is the second largest mountain in the northeast (largest in Baxter State Park) and is a popular spot to check out. I wanted to do try going up this place, but sadly, I didn’t have enough time.
It IS on my list, but it’s got amazing views. It is also a dangerous hike, so please know this.
5) White Mountains, NH.
So there’s a bunch of peaks worth exploring. I enjoyed Mount Cannon, from which you can see beautiful views of the neighboring peaks such as Mt. Lafayette.
If you really want to challenge yourself, go up Mt. Washington, or drive up it if you want to save time and enjoy the views. Many of these mountains also have ski resorts, which means they also include gondolas which will take you up to the top all year long.
6) Adirondack Mountains.
Well this park has over 40 peaks you can explore. Here is a list. But I personally enjoyed the drive and areas to check out near Mt. Marcy, the largest peak in that region. Here is one near a place called Chapel Pond:
7) The Catskills.
Without a doubt, you need to see Kaaterskill falls and go on the hike which leads to it. If you have issues with difficult hikes, you can take 2 trails which lead to this waterfall, one from the top, which is an easy walk to an overlook and even to the edge of the waterfall OR you can take the main trail, upwards to the base of the falls, which is about a mile long trail, one way.
I also have my list of hikes to do in the Catskills you need to see and hike through which many have considered the BEST hikes they’ve ever had.
Additionally, plenty of other peaks are all around the Catskills and here is a list.
There is also a very famous trail known as Devil’s Path which is considered very difficult and one that crosses 3 peaks and spans for over 20 miles.
8) Daniel Boone National Forest.
Any area near Red Gorge is a must see.
And make sure to check out Sky Bridge, the most iconic part of this forest. Here is a great picture of it, we took this by traveling to another peak to get this great photo of it. This literally looks like a bridge, but it’s made naturally from erosion:
9 and 10) Blue Ridge Mountains.
My buddy and I mainly cruised through this area so we experienced much of the scenic drive in this region, but all across it are hiking trails. As long as you remain on the main Blue Ridge Parkway road, you will see plenty of signs for trail heads.
Although the list was supposed to be 10, let’s be honest, the Appalachian Mountains offer a plethora of peaks and trails to explore that only listing 10 would be an insult. So I included more than those and links to a list of other hikes within the regions that make up this range so you can choose which fits you best.
If there are any particular scenic drives or hikes you wish to recommend people take along this range, do let us all know below!