"A Review of the Best Hiking/Camping/Rafting/Kayaking and Outdoor Trips on the East Coast of North America."
(From Florida to Prince Edward Island) By, Aimee Nadow.
|Ft. Myers Beach|
|Aims & Billy, Ft. Myers Beach Pier|
Having hiked most of Clearwater and St. Pete on the West Coast on the 3-Day and in training (for the Susan G. Komen 60-mile walk in 2010) I can tell you some of the best places to walk on the West Coast: (1) Flatwoods Park (New Tampa, FL) for the 7-mile loop (2) Honeymoon Park, (Palm Harbor, FL) for the beaches (3) Ft. De Soto Park, (St. Petersburg, FL) for the beaches and outdoor recreations (4) Homosassa Springs Wildlife Preserve, (Homosassa, FL) for the manatees, (5) Sand Key, for the beaches (Clearwater, FL), (6) Sanibel Beach in Ft. Myers, (7) Ft. Myers Beach and Pier.
On the Panhandle: (1) Okaloosa Island: Henderson Beach State Park, (2) the Village of Baytowne Wharf, in Sandestin Resort, Front Beach Road in Panama City, FL (beware of Spring Breakers!).
On the East Coast: (1) Space View Park, in Titusville, FL. (2) The Kennedy Space Center on the Cape Canaveral Seashore.
In South Florida: (1) The Everglades Alligator Farm, (2) Scuba Dive the Florida Keys with the Florida Keys Dive Center, (3) go on a walking tour of Key West!
Be sure to check out the haunting Andersonville, (Camp Sumter) a Confederate Civil War Prision for Union soldiers (where my relative Benjamin Nadeau just barely survived) with horrific living conditions and tragic history.
Best Hiking: Located in the Great Smoky Mountains national forest, Mt. LeConte is the highest mountain I have ever climbed at 6, 593 feet. It is preferable to it's higher neighbor and the infamous Clingman's Dome, because C's Dome has a noisy road that runs all the way up to the summit right next to the trail and has lots of tourists at the summit observatory. (Like New Hampshire's Mt. Washington.) There is a rustic lodge that you can book for the crag of LeConte ahead of time if you want to stay the night.
Best Rafting: Rafting the Nolichucky River with Cherokee Adventures. The Upper Nolichucky boasts class III and IV rapids, and a full day (or extended trip) rafting experiences with lunch and breaks and swimming included.
South CarolinaWalking around downtown Columbia, there are so many great outdoor places to eat and drink. Especially at Five Corners. There is a great park there on the capitol, with monuments and greenery where you can see the infamous Confederate flag.
North CarolinaMaggie Valley: home of the Blue Ridge Parkway is also one of the great mid-Atlantic places to hike or ski (especially at Cataloochie) that are a resonable drive from the South. Beech and Sugar mountains in Boone, NC, are two other ski mountains, although when I skiied there they had record colds (-5 degrees Fahrenheit) and ice cover.
If you want an overnight, "camp" like experience, or need to build corporate team building skills, or just want to get away for some high ropes, low ropes, spelunking, hiking, camping, (they have a hotel-like lodge too) rock climbing, canoeing, and mountain biking with some of the most qualified guides I've ever met: check out Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing, in New Castle, VA (click for map), where we take the 8th graders in the fall every year for a week of personal challenges and extreme adventures. The caves are amazing living ecosystems, the biking just the right amount of work and reward with amazing views, the high ropes just "high enough" to provide thrill and safety. I recommend this facility at the highest level of accolades. Also, one of the coolest outdoor "living history"places are Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown and the Harrison's Berkeley Plantation (on the East Coast) which was featured on my favorite show Ghost Hunters.
Spleunking: For the best caving in New England, head to Howe Caverns in upstate New York. Just visiting the webpage reminds me of all the cool attractions: from the river boat tour to the walking caverns tour. Gorgeous lighting and educated guides complete the caving experience. (Even if you don't get dirty at all.)
|On the Bike Trails of Cape Cod|
Some of my favorite outdoor places are in Massachusetts: state of my birth and 22 years of life! From (1) The National Seashore in Cape Cod, to (2) Biking the amazing and hilly trails of P-Town, to (3) walking/biking the Cape Cod Canal, to (4) seeing the Ames' family mansion and beautiful trails and grounds of Borderland State Park, to (4) walking through the South Boston Open Art studios tour in the Fall, or (5) the Freedom Trail, to (6) camping and visiting the battlements and forts of the Boston Harbor Islands, to (7) hiking Mt. Greylock, to (8) seeing the Pops play outside at Tanglewood in western MA. To walking around Oak Bluffs and riding the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha's Vineyard. Not to mention: Salem, Sturbridge Village and Plymouth, Ma!
|Martha's Vineyard with Mom|
|Cliff Walk, Newport RI|
Rhode Island (the state, not the drivers) remains close to my heart, especially when I think of Newport. From the (1) Cliff Walk in Newport, to the (2) mansions of Bellevue Ave, to (3) Horseneck Beach, to (4) Sachuest beach and Sachuest Wildlife Refuge, to (4) WaterFire walk in Providence, Rhode Island has some treasures of outdoor places that I have to visit every year!
|Summit of Lafayette|
|Summit of Mt. Garfield|
|Tom at Killington|
Skiing Killington, or Mt. Snow are my normal reasons to visit Vermont, although I have been for Maple Syrup and for the famous "Sugar and Snow" suppers. Check out my ski review of the Vermont Green Mountains here...
|Bar Harbor, ME|
|College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor|
|Pinerest Cottage Rd|
Fundy National Park in New Bruswick, Canada, was another one of my favorite outdoor places from both of our childhood trips into Canada. (Back before you needed passports!) The Canadian national parks are full of educational programs for kids and adults alike, have pristine riverbeds to hike and swim in and plenty of trails for hiking and biking. The campgrounds were immaculate and everyone was friendly. I remember feeling so safe!
Kejimkujik National Park (Kej-gi-ma-coo-jik) was the infamous playground on the beautiful Nova Scotia, where my brother nailed his chin on a slide on the playground and had to go the hospital for stitches. TWICE in one weekend. But I remember how beautiful the park was, and how gorgeous and stunning the entire of Nova Scotia was!
Prince Edward Island
Of course, I would be remiss not to include the gorgeous beaches and inlands of P.E.I. (Mostly due to Charlottetown, and Green Gables and the "Anne of Green Gables Musical" where I remember the audio cassette was $20 at the time, never mention the $35 CD! And that was fifteen years ago!) But really- as a young girl- this was the HIGHLIGHT of my life: thank you Mom & Dad!