Planning state high point vacations started back in 2012, shortly after we moved to the Boston area.
It started with Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont. Shortly after, it was New Hampshire, followed by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. Five states in, we were hooked and knew we'd be hiking state high points for years to come. A new tradition of state high point vacations was born, and we began with the east coast!
As of this post, we have successfully summited 22/50 state high points!
While we still have a longggg way to go, we’ve had so much fun checking off these peaks from our list while planning a state high point vacation around them. Each summit has been an opportunity to explore a new state, city, and region. Some have been easy, some have been challenging, and some have had the unexpected - like a sign on the side of a road, an abandoned fire tower, or even a wild horse colony!
Every state high point vacation has offered a chance to become acquainted with so many new places - many of which have become favorite stops and destinations. Here are some of our favorite state high points on the east coast - and how you can plan a great state high point vacation around them!
My buddy Chris from The Bold Nomad made it his goal in 2019 to summit all of the US state high points in the lower 48 states. He shared all about his experience living in a van, being a nomad, and checking off high points in this guest post.
State High Point Vacation Ideas
North Conway & Mount Washington
You can drive or hike to the top of Mount Washington, the highest point in New England. The highest winds on earth have been recorded atop this mountain and fair warning - it tends to be cloudy! We’ve summited twice and both times our views were obscured by clouds. In winter, it's best to view it from afar, like from the Omni Mount Washington Resort!
The closest large town in the White Mountains is North Conway. They have a scenic railroad that takes you to the summit of Washington as well. There are lots of great restaurants, shops, and B&B’s in case you want to stay the night. Try Sea Dog Brewing Company for a drink and dinner after your hike, or Wicked Fresh Craft Burgers for a burger and fries!
Do you eat gluten-free? Check out my celiac travel guide to New Hampshire for all the best places to eat, and this post for four awesome hiking spots in the White Mountains!
Asheville & Mount Mitchell
The trailhead to begin the hike up Mount Mitchell is less than an hour's drive from Asheville. You can also choose to drive to the top of this high point. As the highest point in North Carolina (and east of the Mississippi!) and with its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains, the views are amazing. It’s an easy day trip to complete from Asheville.
Asheville is an awesome town with a laid-back, hipster feel. Check out the local breweries and wineries, visit the artisan shops like Lexington Glass, and watch the street performers! For an amazing day trip, visit The Biltmore, the largest home in the United States. It offers plenty of history, gorgeous gardens, and seasonal activities year-round.
Lake Placid & Mount Marcy
Dylan and I planned to hike Mount March in the summer of 2017 on our anniversary but got rained out. When we finally made it to this epic high point, we had beautiful weather and a successful hike!
Lake Placid is a perfect spot to base yourself for hiking Mount Marcy. This hike is a big one - 17 miles round trip, so you’ll want to be close by. While you are there, stroll the shops, explore the Olympic history, and try some of the water sports available on the lake!
Burlington & Mount Mansfield
Vermont is one of our favorite places in the United States. Dylan is originally from Vermont, and we visit all the time (and even got married here!) Vermont is our favorite place, and we have lots of recommendations for the best outdoor activities if you are planning a visit here.
If you plan to hike Mount Mansfield, try to do so in summer for the best conditions. Last fall, we hiked Mount Mansfield in October and at the summit, it was below 0 and snowing! If you plan to hike it in the fall or winter months, always check the weather.
Mount Mansfield is a short drive from the city of Burlington. When you are finished, head to Muddy Waters - a coffee shop in downtown Burlington, for a cup of hot chocolate or coffee!
Burlington has a good number of gluten-free choices if you are traveling with celiac disease. Get the full celiac travel guide to learn about the dedicated bakeries, hard cider, and tasty sandwiches in Vermont!
Baxter State Park & Mount Katahdin
Maine is filled with natural beauty - thousands of acres of forests, a coastline dotted with lighthouses and beaches, and the northernmost terminus of the Appalachian Trail - Katahdin!
If you plan to hike Mount Katahdin, you’ll want to take the weekend. It’s very far removed from most major cities and way up in Baxter State Park. We stayed at one of the campgrounds nearby in a small cabin the night before. It allowed us to get an early start on the day of the hike.
Like Mount Marcy, Maine’s high Point is a big one - over 5,000 feet and 10+ miles. While there aren’t other points of interest in the surrounding area to Katahdin, the scenery of the Maine wilderness is enough to keep you mesmerized for days.
Acadia National Park is another gorgeous destination in Maine and a great spot for a summer camping trip. Read the full guide to Acadia to learn more about New England's only national park!
Vacations: Five Days or More
If you have five or more days to spare, combining a few states and making a road trip itinerary is how to do it! There are lots to see and do in each of these places.
If you love road trips and hiking, be sure to check out the National Parks road trip we made into our honeymoon!
Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, & Virginia
Three State High Points + Shenandoah National Park
If you look at a map of the United States state high points like this one here, you can see which ones are close together. This is exactly how we planned two separate week-long trips during April vacation week in 2017 and 2018!
Fly into Pittsburgh, PA, and head south to Mount Davis - the highest point in Pennsylvania. It’s a short walk to an observation tower and easy to do! From here, the state high points of Hoye-Crest, Maryland, and Spruce Knob, West Virginia, are a straight shot south. At Maryland’s high point, you can even be in two states at once.
From Spruce Knob, continue your trip to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, or head to Charlottesville, which is home to the University of Virginia, Dave Matthews Band, and multiple presidential homes. Visit Monticello or Montpelier for a morning tour and enjoy a wine tasting at a local winery in the afternoon.
With the proximity of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia's high points, you have a lot of flexibility to customize a vacation for yourself, you and your partner, or your family.
North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky & Tennessee
Flying in and out of Nashville, Tennessee gave us great flexibility to grab four state high points and visit a lot of fun spots along the way.
Start your trip in Nashville and check out the country music scene. Visit the Grand Ole Opry or the History of Country Music Museum. Continue southeast toward the Great Smoky Mountains and check off high point #1 - Tennessee's Clingman's Dome. From there, head east to Asheville and hike Mount Mitchell for highpoint #2.
After Mount Mitchell, continue north on the Blue Ridge Parkway toward Virginia to visit Mount Rogers, which is a state highpoint #3 and among a wild horse colony. Then head west through Kentucky to get highpoint #4 at Black Mountain. To make it a complete circle, head back to Nashville.
This trip is another perfect opportunity to take a week exploring the Great Smoky Mountains and the area surrounding it. Nashville and Asheville are both fun and exciting cities with a lot of activities for all ages and interests!
State High Point Trips: Final Thoughts
Are you planning a vacation soon? Looking to explore what's here on the east coast of the United States?
Plan a state high point vacation with these itinerary ideas to get started on your state highpointing adventure. Dylan and I are hoping to plan our next itinerary to get out to the state high points in the midwest and beyond.
Have you ever visited the state high points listed here?
Tell me about it in the comments below!