Given that we all need more fresh air these days — and could use a break from family and the holiday hustle — we suggest getting outdoors for a good stretch during this hectic time. Once the work of this maddening year is complete why not unplug in full and take a day off for greener pastures, taller peaks, and happier trails? Getting lost in a marsh or being perched on a rock with a 360-degree view is our idea of “social distancing”. Here we’ve collected some favorite paths and locales for wandering and breathing in the days ahead...
Cloudland Canyon: Georgia/Tennessee Border
Whether on foot or mountain bike, this 3,538 acre Georgia state park has lots of room to roam. Situated on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, an outdoor paradise offers up canyons, cliffs, caves, creeks, waterfalls, woodlands, and plenty of wildlife. Perfect for a full day in the great outdoors. But campsites and shelters allow you to sit and stay for a spell if you like...
Donnelly Wildlife Management Area South Carolina Low Country/Colleton County
Live oaks and a historic rice field system provide this Low Country retreat with timeless magic. The rice fields are now managed to attract migratory birds and wildlife and floodgates are used to control water levels in the fields. Watch your step as alligators have been known to like this beautiful spot as much as we do.
Milton Reimers Ranch Park: Texas Hill Country 30 miles West Of Austin
Emerald waters. Birds and boulders. Shade ferns and waterfalls. A hike through Milton Reimers Ranch Park is definitely NOT a Zoom call. Immerse yourself down into Climbers Canyon and watch as the real world quickly drifts away. Spring-fed streams run under bald cypress and sycamore trees as the trail leads you to beautiful vistas of Texas Hill Country.
The Potomac Heritage Trail: D.C./Virginia
This Mid-Atlantic oasis has it all — history and recreation meet to provide a well-rounded, conservation-minded escape. Running between the mouth of the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands, the Potomac Heritage Trail offers 830 miles of existing and planned trails. And if you prefer to bike, paddle, or float you can take that on as well. Our nation’s capital has it good when it comes to exploring this beautiful country.
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve: Birmingham/Pinson, Alabama
Walk off that turkey dinner with a hike through this 466-acre nature preserve. Located 15 miles north of Birmingham, this haven nestled in the Appalachian foothills is home to three endangered fish species — the Rush Darter, the Vermillion Darter (which lives only in these Alabama waters and nowhere else in the world), and the Watercress Darter. A day along the meandering creek with its beautiful falls is a great way to slow down this holiday season...
All Around Asheville: Asheville, NC
To say Asheville, NC is a hiker’s paradise is an understatement. With the Blue Ridge Parkway cutting through it and the Black Mountains in the distance, Asheville is hard to beat. We’re big fans of the Deep Gap Trail at Mount Mitchell where you can hike from the highest peak east of the Mississippi River (Mount Mitchell, 6684 feet) to the second highest (Mount Craig, 6647 feet). But there are multiple hikes in the area to choose from — AND there are over 50 craft breweries in Asheville to choose from as well. We love it up here!
St. Georgia Island State Park: Saint George Island/Florida Panhandle
Ten miles south of Eastpoint, Florida, Saint George Island State Park welcomes the hiker, the angler, and the bird watcher alike. This barrier island fronting historic Apalachicola Bay offers miles of unspoiled beach to amble and explore. With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and marshes filled with birds and fish on the other – and nature trails woven in for good measure – Saint George’s is the perfect place to end this year and walk into a new one...