best backpacking east coast
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Ultimate Guide: The Best Backpacking on the East Coast, USA

The Eastern Coast of the United States is often lauded for its cool coastline, beaches, and perfect summer weather, making for countless options for the best backpacking on the East Coast.

Choosing between wild beach camping, dense forests, and parks near cool coastal cities might be the hardest part of any backpacking trip.

The Appalachian Mountains, famous for the Appalachian Trail hike, run through several states like Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and provide ideal spots for camping sites and backpacking activities.

However, the best East Coast backing spots aren’t limited to this favorite area.

In this ultimate guide to backpacking on the East Coast, we’re sharing some of the best spots for your next trip, from the mountains, densely thick forests, or next to serene water bodies. Grab your essential backpacking gear and get ready for an incredible trip outdoors.

best backpacking on the east coast

Maine

If you live in Maine or the surrounding area, or if you’re looking for some of the most impressive natural scenery in this part of the United States, consider these areas for your East Coast backpacking trip:

  • Cadillac Mountain Ridges
  • the Saddle Trail
  • Acadia National Park
  • Camden Hills State Park
  • Baxter State Park
  • Mount Blue
  • Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail

The unpredictable weather, the slightly uneven topography, and the beautiful, flowery landscape of these spots in the spring and summer are some of the reasons why these Maine locations are perfect for your next hiking/camping trip.

Massachusetts 

Massachusetts is famous for its rocky coastline and Martha’s Vineyard, but residents of Massachusetts and visitors alike know that these are some of the best spots in the state for a backpacking trip:

  • Cape Cod Trails
  • Skyline Reservoir Loop
  • Wells State Park

Another favorite is Cascading Waters, located outside of Worcester and known for its unique mountain biking routes, picturesque scenery, and climbing trails. This spot is perfect for you if you’re looking for some pure, fun, adrenaline-induced adventure.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is famous for its scenic beach views for fishing and meditation, campgrounds for tent camping, and cabins. Rhode Island is a top destination for nature lovers who want to enjoy a restful summer. Some of the top spots include these:

  • Burlingame State Park in Charlestown
  • George Washington State Car Park in Chepachet
  • Fishermen’s Memorial State Park in Narragansett
  • Whispering Pines Campground in Hope Valley

Connecticut

While the Appalachian Mountains run through many states on the East Coast of the United States, did you know they also reach to Connecticut?

This portion of the mountain range provides some stunning spots in the western edge of the state, with numerous hiking trails and camping spots.  These are some of our favorites:

  • St Johns Ledges to Glacier Rock
  • Hoyt Road to Bulls Ridge
  • Lions Head
  • Herrick Trail Preserve
  • Bear Mountain Trail
  • Macedonia and the Air Line State Park Trail

These destinations are the top options for the best mountain hikers and climbers within Connecticut. 

backpacking east coast usa

New Hampshire

Looking for a camping or backpacking excursion in New Hampshire? Often overlooked for neighboring Vermont, New Hampshire is home to countless hidden gems for outdoor activity, hiking, and more. Consider these favorite spots for your next trip:

  • The North Mountain National Forest
  • Crawford Notch State Park
  • White Mountain

New Hampshire is a particularly popular spot for leaf-peeping in the fall, and other great fall activities like farmers markets, pumpkin patches, and more.

The White Mountain fall foliage is of particular note, so make sure to add this destination to your fall bucket list!

Delaware

Delaware is also famous for its numerous bodies of water, especially waterfalls and their hiking trails, which provide hikers an opportunity to cool off after hiking in. Some of the best spots for backpacking, hiking, and camping in Delaware include these:

  • Junction Breakwater
  • Walking Dunes Trail
  • Gordon’s Pond Trail
  • White Clay Creek State Park
  • Northern Delaware Greenway Trail

Virginia

For residents of Virginia (and, visitors, of course!), the top destinations in Virginia for hiking, climbing, and other fun outdoor camping activities include Humpback Rocks, New River Trail, Powhatan, State Meadow, and Spy Rock.

Think California and Hawaii are the only locations in the United States for great surfing? Think again! Virginia Beach surfing is some of the best on the East Coast. How about adding a surfing stop on your backpacking trip?

Looking to reach these destinations in Virginia (or further down the coast to the Carolinas and Georgia)? If you want to visit all of these hiking spots without breaking the bank, try Wanda Coach for affordable travel.

North and South Carolina

The Carolinas are famous for their scenic beach camping sites, backpacking spots, and mountain hiking trails. Top destinations include:

  • Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina
  • CrabTree Fall Trails in North Carolina
  • Keowee Toxaway State Park in South Carolina
  • Andrew Jackson State Park in South Carolina
  • Mount Mitchell Hiking Trail in North Carolina
  • Rainbow Falls in South Carolina

New Jersey

West Milford, Wharton State Forest, Cheesequake Green Trail, Buttermilk Falls, and Crater Lake Loop Trails are famous in New Jersey for their mountain biking spots, scenic ponds, and lakes, making them the perfect spots for waterside camping, biking, and other fun activities. 

New York

New York, famous for its towering skyscrapers and heavy traffic, also provides some surprising fantastic spots for nature lovers outside the city. They are some of the perfect destinations for scenic strolls, hiking, and cave camping.

  • Bear Mountain Loop Trail
  • Cascade Mountain Trail
  • Catskill Mountain
  • Verkeerderkill Falls Trail Hike 

The Finger Lakes region is a favorite destination in Upstate New York for all kinds of backpacking, camping, hiking, and more.

I’m quite partial to the Ithaca area – I studied here for two years and loved adding a hike through the gorges or to waterfalls to my weekly routine.

Make sure to check out the charming downtown Ithaca, plus the breathtaking campus at Cornell University (Go Big Red!) when in the area. Plus, these are must-visit destinations when visiting Ithaca and the rest of the Finger Lakes region:

  • Taughannock Falls
  • Buttermilk Falls
  • Robert Treman State Park