A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.
A few weeks ago, we gave you our list of top 10 adrenaline-packed outdoor activities in the west. We, of course, couldn’t forget about the east!
I called the eastern U.S. home for over 26 years. During that time, I caved, hiked, backpacked, climbed, rafted, kayaked…okay you get the point! I love to play outside.
I scoured my experiences and the web for 10 exciting examples of my favorite outdoor adventures, plus a few I haven’t tried yet. I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions as well, so don’t be shy about commenting below!
1. Raft the Chattooga River, Georgia
Remember the movie Deliverance? This is where it was filmed. Designated a Wild and Scenic River, rafting the Chattooga feels like stepping back in time. No buildings, cars, or shops, just pulse pounding rapids, cliffs and a whole lot of fun.
I’ve rafted, kayaked, and backpacked my way down the Chattooga and it’s easily one of my favorite spots in the East. After paddling with Southeastern Expeditions four times, I can solidly recommend their services.
2. Mountain Bike the Bomb Dog, Alabama
This new professionally designed flow trail delivers an undulating ride with views and optional lines that will get your heart pounding. “The Bomb Dog Loop might just be your favorite new ride. Part of the new developing trail system at Coldwater Mountain, this loop includes some of the newest technology in singletrack trails,” states the (IMBA) MTBProject.
3. Rock Climb in New River Gorge, West Virginia
The first time I stepped up to the rim of the New River Gorge, I took 10 steps back because it scared me. Sorry, no brave story here…it was intimidating!
The New River Gorge offers over 1400 climbing routes ranging from 30 to 120 feet. Most of the climbs are rated 5.9 or higher, so this area is best for climbers looking for a challenge.
4. Road Bike Skyline Drive…in Fall
Blanketed in scarlet, orange, and yellow leaves, the Skyline Drive is spectacular in fall. It’s lovely by car, but biking this route delivers a more intimate experience and cool breezes. That said, the drive on this road might get your heart-rate up, so make sure you’re traffic savvy before attempting it.
5. Canoe the Everglades
During winter, head south to the Everglades to paddle through mangrove lined trails. Numerous species of wildlife call the Everglades home, included many that are endangered. Bird watching is popular here and there are alligators, lots of alligators!
Because there are few dry places to camp, the park service offers elevated camping platforms called chickees. A backcountry trip in the Everglades requires planning and permits, but it will be worth the effort. Visit the NPS site for details and to download a copy of their trip planner.
6. Climb Mount Washington, New Hampshire
This is a dangerous hike. So why hike it? “On a clear day, the 6,288 foot summit will give you a view that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east, across Vermont to New York’s Adirondack Mountains in the west, to Canada in the north, and to Massachusetts in the south,” explains the Appalachian Mountain Club.
That said, the weather here is some of the most unpredictable in the nation, and the winds can reach gale force. My partner has climbed it multiple times and recommended it because, “it can be beautiful, and completing the hike is always an accomplishment.”
7. Challenge Yourself on a Ropes Course
Okay, it doesn’t matter which coast you’re near, there’s likely a good ropes course around. I included them because rope courses are often dismissed by us outdoor-types as kid stuff, but they rock! I love that there are usually options for the whole family side by side.
They can be expensive, so look for specials or coupons. Some are far superior to others as well, so do some research before laying down your cash. Pack a lunch, and your nerve for an active day.
8. Sea Kayak Acadia National Park, Maine
Maine is known for stunning shorelines, wildlife…and fog. The rugged coast, rocky islands, and protected coves of Acadia National Park are ideal for kayaking and wildlife viewing. This is a destination for experienced paddlers due to the inherent hazards of the rocky shoreline, however there are guides available as well. When the fog rolls in, enjoy a softer, almost surreal, landscape. To avoid the summer crowds, visit the smaller islands.
9. Get Muddy in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
I’ve been caving in the Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia (TAG) area since the 90s. There are thousands of cave in this region, some of them huge. When I say huge, I mean subway huge! There are also streams, waterfalls, and ancient formations hidden beneath the earth. However, wild (natural) caving can be a tough sport to simply try out. There is one way you get underground and muddy easily, visit Mammoth Cave National Park. This cave is open to the general public, offering walking tours excreta, but they also left some of the cave wild. A limited number of guided trips into these sections are available. They are the closest you can get to wild caving with minimal preparation. Keep in mind that this is no walking tour, you need to be fit enough to hang in the mud. Check out details on their site. If you’re interested in more cave exploration, visit the National Speleological Society for information.
10. Backpack Devil’s Path, New York
A trail that lives up to its name. Described as one of the toughest trails in the Catskills, Devil’s Path is worth the effort. The extreme vertical change, over 14,000’ of climbs and descents, is only the beginning. The rivers, rocks, and routes that go where you’re sure pretty sure they shouldn’t, will test your grit. So why do it? Sweeping views, mountain summits, and a true sense of accomplishment are the rewards you’ll carry home.
Now, tell me what you would recommend adding to our Eastern U.S. adventure bucket list!