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.
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.
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
Maine is home to Acadia National Park, easily among the best national parks on the East Coast. 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 is famous for its rocky coastline, Cape Cod, 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 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
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.
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 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
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
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 even clear lakes, making them the perfect spots for waterside camping, biking, and other fun activities.
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 even 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. Watkins Glen, home to the most impressive gorge in the region and a charming, historic village on the shores of Seneca Lake, is a particularly appealing spot; make sure you check out the Seneca Lake wineries while you’re visiting.
Make sure to check out downtown Ithaca, packed with great restaurants and local breweries and wineries, plus the breathtaking campus at Cornell University (Go Big Red!) when in the area. These are some of the most impressive natural spots in the area:
- Watkins Glen State Park
- Taughannock Falls State Park
- Buttermilk Falls State Park
- Robert H. Treman State Park
Plan a Trip to the Finger Lakes, NY
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.