This is the USA. One of the largest and most diverse countries on the planet, America is known for incredible outdoor recreation. It is, after all, the country that invented the national park.
American adventure destinations are often iconic. Places like the Grand Canyon, the Oregon Coast, the Rocky Mountains, Volcanoes National Park, the Florida Everglades, the Great Smoky Mountains... but there are scores of lesser-known and more surprising locales, many of which we’ll detail here.
We aim to inspire; to stoke the fire for adventure. And we’re sure that after reading this article, you’ll be outdoors and getting sweaty in no time.
So let’s jump into America’s Great Outdoors, and explore the Northeast:
Paddle the Canoe Trail
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is 740 miles of premier paddling—almost half of which is found in Maine. At 347 miles, Maine’s section of this iconic canoe trail is rife with adventure. Spot moose in the dense forest. Run whitewater. Ply serene lakes. Camp under the stars. Of particular note, the Rangeley Lakes section stands out with its big, protected waters; as does the exciting rapids of the Dead River (South Branch); and the Moose River through to Moosehead Lake. And the easternmost Section 13 offers an 80-mile journey that’s sure to challenge and excite experienced paddlers.
Learn More: northernforestcanoetrail.org
Mountain Bike at Little River
One of the newest and most exciting mountain bike areas in Vermont, Little River State Park offers a small but high-quality collection of trails just outside of Waterbury. Most were forged in just the past couple of years yet have already become known as some of the fastest and most flowy single-track in the state. Sweat up Stonewall then ride a rollercoaster trail like Highbridge or Hillfarmer, or access something more mellow like Bear Ridge or Cottonbrook. This ever-growing network is set to become even better and bigger in the coming years—so check it out now and in the seasons to follow.
Learn More: vmba.org/plan_your_ride/little-river-state-park-2/
Alison Karlene Hodgins
Hike Mount Washington
With a lot of planning, a good skillset and a few buckets of sweat—you too can summit the highest peak in New England. Topping out at 6,288 feet, Mount Washington has the dubious distinction of logging some of the worst weather in America, but in-season the popular Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the summit should avoid that—though always check conditions before you hike. This eight-mile route climbs more than 4,000 feet and is suited for skilled hikers only. Late-summer is the best time to go, as snow and ice can persist. If you’re up for it, the ravines, viewpoints and even a waterfall won’t disappoint.
Learn More: alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/tuckerman-ravine-trail-to-mount-washington
Wander the Whale Trail
If you crave incredible wildlife sightings as well as rich history and hands-on exploration, hop in your car and hit the road along Massachusetts’ Whale Trail. A soft but engaging adventure, this route leads to several whale-watching operators, where you can hit the high seas and spot impressive marine mammals, as well as nature excursions to study the regional ecology and historical landmarks and museums to connect the dots and illustrate the past, present and future of whales in this area. Snap a selfie at the Moby Dick in New Bedford to cap off this cetacean-themed multi-day journey.
Learn More: massvacation.com/whale-trail/
Ride the B&B Bike Trail
Bicycle touring is the best way to explore a region. Rather than simply blasting by, shielded by glass and steel, you smell the air; feel the temperature changes, sweat up the hills and coast freely back down. Plus, you can eat whatever you want because you’re burning calories all day long. Connecticut’s B&B Bike Trail typifies this experience. Featuring eight routes, you can set out along serene country roads and paths, enjoying the picturesque towns and natural environments while ending every day in a welcoming B&B. Refresh, then start out again the following morning. An absolute idyllic way to immerse in Connecticut’s charms.
Learn More: ctbandbs.com/about
Cycle the Washington Trail
Whether you choose to ride the blacktop or head onto the dirt, the Washington Secondary Rail Trail—Rhode Island’s longest bike path—delivers outstanding cycling experiences. Totaling 19 miles, it offers a pleasant route along a former railway line that touches the charming communities of Coventry, West Warwick, Warwick and Cranston—so rest- and snack-stops are easy to come by. Keep an eye out for historical landmarks, and make sure to get Instagrams of the plethora of old railway bridges along the trail. Soon, it’ll link up to the Blackstone River Bikeway to add another 16.5 miles to this charming daytrip.
Learn More: dot.ri.gov/community/bikeri/washington.php
Climb Mount Marcy
One of the great aspects of hiking in the East versus the West is that many mountain summits, while challenging, are still attainable to the average skilled hiker. No ropes and crampons (usually) required. This is the case for Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State. The popular Van Hoevenberg Trail to the summit is tough 14.1-mile hike that climbs some 3,500 feet—expect to get sweaty. And foul weather can strike at any time—this is a remote area that requires self-sufficiency. (Though you’ll likely see other hikers.) The payoff? Aside from bagging a state high point, you’ll marvel at a view that can stretch all the way into Quebec to the north and Vermont to the south.
Learn More: alltrails.com/trail/us/new-york/mount-marcy-via-van-hoevenberg-trail
Go Multisport in Wawayanda
Difficulty: Beginner & Up
Wawayanda State Park is an adventure playground. If you’re an experienced hiker, a 20-mile section of the Appalachian Trail runs through the area. If you’re more of a day-hiker, you’ll find some 60 miles of varying-length trails meandering though the lush environs. Paddlers can ply the serene waters (the noisiest thing you’ll hear is an electric motor). Birdwatchers can search out hawks, owls and herons. And tenters can disconnect at the rustic campsites—there’s even a handful of group sites for outdoorsy family gatherings.
Learn More: visitnj.org/nj-biking/wawayanda-state-park
Welcome to some of the best single-track in the Northeast, constructed thanks to a lease agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering. Allegrippis Trails offers riders more than 35 miles of flowy tracks, arranged in a series of loops to enable long, rollercoaster rides. There are more than 20 marked trails in total, constructed by local mountain bikers who are passionate about their sport and know what real riders yearn for. Best thing? Most bikers can find a trail to suit at Allegrippis—beginner, intermediate and beyond, this network is as accessible as it is exciting.
Learn More: singletracks.com/bike-trails/allegrippis-trails.html
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