There is a wealth of backpacking opportunities around New England, but sometimes the hardest part is finding out about them.

That’s where the recently revised guide “Best Backpacking in New England” comes in really handy. Authored by Matt Heid and published by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the book is a trove of three-season getaways featuring 37 multiday trips from Maine to Connecticut.

Heid is a former senior editor of “AMC Outdoors” and writes a gear column for the magazine. The author of two other hiking guides, Heid is a veteran backpacker of thousands of miles from New England to California to Alaska, and many other wild and scenic places.

Most of the trips in the book are overnight hikes, a few are long weekend affairs and several are four to five days. Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness requires up to 10 days and is the longest hike. For this second edition Heid added four hikes: two in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire and the Grafton Loop Trail in Maine.

“Wherever possible I selected loop hikes because it’s more fun to travel over new ground,” said Heid, noting that 30 hikes are loops and the remainder are out-and-back hikes or require a car spot. “I also chose hikes that did not cross paved roads. There aren’t too many hikes in New England that meet both of these criteria.’

Updating a guidebook of this scope is a huge undertaking, so this time Heid enlisted some experienced hikers to field-check many of the trips. The team of 15 included five Mainers: Wendy Almeida of Standish, Hugh Coxe of Falmouth, Samantha Horn Olsen of Readfield, Jeff Ryan of South Portland and me.

The introductory section on New England geography provides a nice overview of each region to give a flavor of the various locations and help you choose an appropriate hike. The season-by-season playbook, as Heid terms it, outlines what to expect for weather, foliage, insects and the like from April through October. And he offers tips for maximizing your on-trail solitude.

The nine Maine hikes may have familiar names but have you actually visited each of them? The hikes into Chimney Pond and Russell Pond in the Baxter State Park backcountry are classics. Great overnight options in the Camden Hills and the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness are also detailed. Test your mettle in the Bigelows, the Mahoosucs or on the Bold Coast. Or maybe it’s time to finally check off the entire 100-Mile Wilderness.

The real value of a guide like this one is that it sparks your imagination, and gets you into planning and then doing modes.

And especially for we Mainers who love our home turf, this book introduces many places farther afield that take some time and effort to visit.

Yes, there are the Presidential Range and the Pemigewasset Wilderness in New Hampshire, both amply described. But how about a hike in the Wapack Range in the southern part of the state, or in the less traveled areas of the White Mountains like the Sandwich Range, the Wild River Valley or the Kilkenny Range?

Over in the Green Mountains of Vermont, Heid takes us into three federally designated wilderness areas, from Glastenbury to Lye Brook to Breadloaf. There are also fine trips to the alpine high points of Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield.

Of the 10 backpacking trips in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, I have to admit I’ve heard of only two of them – both in the beautiful Berkshires – and have hiked just one, Mt. Greylock. Heid challenges backpackers to make the trek to this area to explore the New England National Scenic Trail, the Taconic Range, and Pachaug, Tunxis, Monroe and Douglas state forests.

Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures in his Maineiac Outdoors blog at:

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