1. The Great Range Traverse (High Peaks, ADK, NY) – the baddest day hike you can do in the Northeast, period. Glory and pain the first half, death march the next. It goes through one of the finest godforsaken rockscapes in NY state, Gothics, worth the trip just for that. Don’t fall.
2. Pemi Loop (WMNF, NH) – telling ravens to shut up or whats up guy (Yo NH!) on Bondcliffs is worth this insane mileage eater. Nothing technical, just long, long hours pounding the rocks in your boots. The Bonds are the remotest places in the Whites, and there you can fully realize the extent of your antisocial stance. You may actually start missing some people. Nah, you will be too distracted by the glorious Pemi Wilderness below your stinky feet.
3. The Devil’s Path (Catskills, NY) – roots, mud, babyheads, and seriously pestersome nettles that sting through your clothes. It will remind you that you are a masochistic piece of shit who’s not much good for anything else. It sucks. I never want to do it again.
4. The Presidential Traverse (WMNF, NH) – going north-to-south, the most elevation gain is in getting your ass up Madison, then it’s smooth sailing if weather’s good, nothing technical. If weather’s bad, bail, because it can kill you. It is still the most glorious day hike in good weather in the Northeast. You haven’t lived until you do a full PT and took a piss in the Lakes of the Clouds hut while stuffing a fresh muffin in your piehole, knowing you can’t stay there more than five minutes.
5. The Katahdin Massif Traverse (BSP, ME) – from Roaring Brook, you hump up Pamola via Keep Ridge, then bag all the rocky subpeaks along the way, The Chimney (5.2 move), South, Hamlin, South & North Howe peaks, and of course Baxter – AT’s northern terminus and the summit proper. And then there’s the Knife Edge.
6. East Hudson Highlands Traverse (Hudson Highlands, NY) – yes, this is in my backyard, but the first time I tried, I ran out of water and was completely miserable. You start by the tunnel trailhead, take the class 3 & 4 scramble up Breakneck Ridge, then continue east onto Bald & Lamb Hills, then back west past South Beacon Mt and bag Bull Hill and then stagger out to Little Stony Point some 18 miles and 6,000′ elevation gain later. This felt harder than PT!
7. The Burroughs Range plus Panther Loop (Catskills, NY) – the best day hike to be had in the Catskills, especially if you are staying in picturesque Woodland Valley campground. Bag Wittenberg, Cornell and the highest in the Catskills, Slide, for some of the best views in the park. After descending the big one, walk past Winnisook Lake, the source of Esopus Creek and the highest lake in the Catskills, to rejoin the forest trail. Bag Giant Ledge and Panther summit out-and-back, then stagger back to Woodland Valley and your beer cooler in a 20 mile loop. This is the anti-Devil’s Path.