Add These Outdoor Wonders to Your Bucket List

HikeWhen nature beckons, we all answer the call for different reasons. Some of us desire solitude and a quiet respite from the bustle of daily life. Others chase thrills and adventure, feeding their inner Huckleberry Finn or Jacques Cousteau. Still others seek to connect with their spirituality among trees, atop mountains or at lake or riverside. The U.S. is home to many different natural environments, each offering something unique to visitors. No matter your motivation, add these trails to your bucket list to get a glimpse of the majestic beauty the Red, White and Blue.

Find Your Bliss Amidst the Red Rocks

Pick up your Red Rock Pass, and hit the trails in Sedona, Arizona for all levels of hiking around and over the unique red rocks. Newbies should tighten their laces for Fay Canyon, while the hard-core hikers hoof it up Bear Mountain. The serenity of the blush-colored rocks will calm even the most frazzled spirit.

Photo by laszlo-photo via Flickr

Sedona and the surrounding area offers something for everyone. Vivid Arizona sunsets framing skylines formed by nature’s red rock monuments such as Coffeepot, Cathedral and Bell Rock will turn even amateur photographers into lens artists. Pink Jeep tours entertain the rambunctious crowd. L’auberge is known for its luxurious spa treatments, and the leisurely lifestyle of locals invites visitors to pause and just be. To delve into the mystical, don’t forget to check out a Vortex.

Take a Michi-Gander at Epic Trails

Designated one of the top five Epic Rides in 2009 by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan is home to more than 25 miles of singletrack featuring technical rock features, contoured climbs, bermed descents, rustic bridges, rolling hills and more. This biker’s paradise offers a network of self-proclaimed “real” mountain biking trails taking you through ancient forests, past clear lakes and streams, along the rugged Lake Superior shoreline and to mountaintop vistas.

Photo by battlecreekcvb via Flickr

Though the challenge and variety of Copper Harbor may entice experienced bikers’, rookie riders and families can enjoy a number of easy and intermediate trails. If solitude is your desire, find it on a singletrack trail where nature’s tranquility is broken only by the sounds of your spinning tires and labored breathing. Or let your competitive flag fly at the Bell’s Beer Copper Harbor Trails Festival, held on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, for races and a chance to see if you drink as well as you ride.

You May Just Want to Get Stuck

The Hatfield & McCoy Trails have made their name as the most popular trail system on the East Coast. Grab your ATV gear and enjoy part of more than 600 miles of groomed trails in the mountains of southern West Virginia. A York University study revealed ATV riders actually achieve aerobic exercise while maneuvering the vehicles and may also experience upper body muscle fatigue, resulting in fitness improvements — and likely a hungry stomach. Motor into one of the ATV friendly towns to refuel or stay the night. For a step above camping or even “glamping,” get a room at a local bed and breakfast or rent an entire lodge for your crew to enjoy evenings of respite in between trail adventures. Known as “Trails Heaven,” the Hatfield & McCoy Trails are open year-round and have been recognized by national media as an excellent recreational experience.

Photo by thigpan.robert via Flickr

Jarod Hernandez: fisherman, outdoor enthusiast, tech lover

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