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Golden view of Connery Pond in the Adirondacks in New York

Vermont, New York, New Hampshire

3 Parks, 5 Days: East Coast Mountains

By: Miriam B. Weiner

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  • States:
    Vermont
    New York
    New Hampshire

The USA may be vast, but, with the right planning, you can make every day count and experience a variety of places in a short amount of time.

Choosing the right home base will allow you to explore multiple destinations in only a few days. A visit to Burlington, Vermont, for example, will allow you to easily visit three spectacular mountainous parks in just five days.

Home Base: Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is a quirky college town in Vermont that sits on the shores of glistening Lake Champlain, which borders New York state. Burlington is home to independent coffee shops, farm-to-table restaurants and artsy boutiques. But its location amid three parks also makes it a gathering spot for adventurers.

Basing yourself in Burlington will grant you easy access to Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, the Adirondacks region in New York and White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. All three parks are within a three-hour drive from the city; you can rent a car at Burlington International Airport, which is west of town, or right in the heart of the city.

Church Street at night in Burlington

Church Street at night in Burlington
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Days 1 and 2: Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

Spend the first of your three-day mountain adventure in Vermont’s Green Mountains, which are so beloved by locals that there’s even a coffee company named after them. You’ll need to get an early start to spend the full day here; the park is about 200 kilometers south of Burlington. A visit here is worth the drive, especially if you love to hike.

The park features several notable trails. Follow the White Rocks Cliffs Trail for views of valleys carved during the Ice Age or trek to the summit of Stratton Mountain for views as far as New York state. As for accommodations, the park features several campgrounds to choose from, though if you’re not interested in roughing it, you’ll find a variety of hotel options surrounding the park.

Lefferts Pond at Green Mountain National Park

Lefferts Pond at Green Mountain National Park
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Days 3 and 4: The Adirondack Region, New York

The High Peaks region of The Adirondacks is about 100 kilometers southwest of Burlington on the opposite side of Lake Champlain. Featuring more than 600 rivers, lakes and other waterways, the region is especially popular among boaters. 

You’ll also find a smattering of rustic mountain towns, including Lake Placid, where the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games were held. When you’ve exhausted your souvenir fund, you can try your hand at an Olympic sport. During the winter months, take a ride on the bobsled track or a spin around the ice rink. You’ll also find plenty of lodging options, including the luxurious Lake Placid Lodge and the rustic White Pine Camp.

Picturesque views in the heart of the The Adirondacks

Picturesque views in the heart of the The Adirondacks
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Day 5: White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

A 200-kilometer drive east of Burlington, New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest is close enough to your home base that you won’t need to spend the night (unless you want to). The roughly 320,000 hectares comprising this park teem with travelers from September to November, when the White Mountains are ablaze with fall colors.

There’s plenty to do during the rest of the year as well, from hiking and biking to camping and fishing. You’ll also find several historic sites and 19th century homes scattered throughout the forest. While you’re out on the trails, keep your eyes peeled for remnants of old logging camps, mills and even railroad tracks that have been swallowed by the forest over the past 100 years.

Autumn hike in White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn hike in White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire
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