For every person who likes to hike, there is one who would rather not. Whatever your reasons, if you fall under the “rather not” category, a sturdy set of wheels is all you need. Forget the backpack and the hiking boots.
Here are 6 mountains for the non-hiker who doesn’t want to miss out on the ‘view from the top’.
1 – Mount Washington, New Hampshire
At an elevation of 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest peak in all of northeast USA. Known as “home to the world’s worst weather”, it is best to try it during the warm months of summer. Given the altitude, dense fogs and strong winds are common all year round. The Mount Washington Auto Road will take you to the summit where the oxygen content is 15-20% lower than sea level so if you have any medical conditions which could worsen, then it is best to avoid this one. But don’t worry, there are plenty more.
2 – Mount Equinox, Vermont
The 5.2-mile Skyline Drive Toll Road goes all the way to the summit, which is 3,848 feet above sea level. Being the highest peak in the Taconic Mountain range, Mount Equinox offers panoramic views of the surrounding Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, the White Mountains, the Berkshires and of course, the Taconic range.
3 – Whiteface Mountain, New York
The Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway leads up to the summit of Whiteface, the fifth highest mountain in the Adirondacks. Begun during the Great Depression, this highway created scores of jobs for engineers, construction workers and stone masons. From the parking lot, you have the option of taking an elevator to the top or climbing up man-made steps to the peak. Though the steps are only a fifth of a mile and has guardrails for support, it gets considerably steep by the time it reaches the summit at 4,867 feet above sea level. The lack of trees makes it possible to enjoy a panoramic view of the High Peaks, Lake Champlain and Lake Placid from the top.
4 – Cadillac Mountain, Maine
At 1,530 feet above sea level, the summit of the Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the north Atlantic coastline. The long, winding Park Loop Road that leads up to the summit traverses the entire Acadia National Park and offers spectacular views of Maine’s rocky coast at every turn. Once at the top, you can see the Eagle Lake, the Western Bay, the Cranberry Islands, the Porcupine Islands, Schoodic Peninsula and Bar Island. A favored spot for photographers and sunrise watchers, this mountain is easily accessible by all. In the United States, this mountain summit catches the first rays of the sun from October 7 to March 6.
5 – Mount Mansfield, Vermont
A 4.5 mile unpaved Auto Toll Road with sharp turns and sharper drops on one side will lead you to the parking lot of Mount Mansfield Summit Station at an elevation of 3,850 feet. From there, it’s a short walk up to a cairn called the Frenchman’s Pile. The view from the cairn will make the drive uphill well worth its while. If you have the better part of the day left, you could walk further up to the Nose at 4,063 feet. The trail is well maintained with wooden planks. The Mount Mansfield area is home to extremely fragile Alpine vegetation so make sure you stay on the trail. The fog usually clears away by afternoon on summer days making way for stunning overlooks.
6 – Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
At 3,491 feet above sea-level, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts and all of southern New England. A paved road known as the Scenic Byway goes all the way up to the summit. Being the highest peak has its advantages. One can see as far as ninety miles on a clear day. If you feel too tired to drive all the way back, the Bascom Lodge provides meals and overnight accommodations.