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Off the Beaten Path: The Northeast

Part 3 of a 5 part series:

by: Ben Shaw

For those of you who may not have seen our previous “Off the Beaten Path” blogs, check out the Northwest & Midwest articles. Over the next several weeks we’ll be breaking down our favorite places we’ve found across the country when we go off the beaten path. You won’t find any National Parks on this list, but you will find some of the most amazing car camping spots, kayaking destinations, backpacking trails and many more hidden gems.

This week we’re talking about our adventures in the Northeast. Some of RRT’s favorite destinations are up here, there’s beginner friendly whitewater, sea-kayaking, some of the most beautiful backpacking and mountains whose unpredictable weather can make Colorado 14ers

sound like cake.

Youghiogheny River & Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania

Car camping, Whitewater Rafting, Hiking, Backpacking, Hunting

Nestled in the rolling hills of southeast Pennsylvania sits a little town called Ohiopyle, its been drawings visitors from all over since the 1920s and is smackdab in the middle of the Laurel Highlands, 3,000 square miles of Pennsylvania’s highest peaks. Ohiopyle and the Yough (Yok), boast some very beginner friendly class II-III whitewater rafting as well as some great class V on the upper section of the river. There’re numerous different outfitters in the area that can get you on the river if you’re interested in getting wet! On top of the draw of the river, there’s also the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, a 150-mile

trail connecting Pittsburg, PA with Washington, D.C. If 150 miles is too much of a commitment, the Laurel Highlands hiking trail, comes in at a very doable 70 miles long, stretching from just outside of Ohiopyle to Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, PA. There’s plenty to do in the area, between hunting for waterfalls, playing in the river or hiking the hills so I definitely recommend a visit this summer if you get the chance, makes for a great long weekend.

Best time to go: May-September

Lake Willoughby, Vermont

Backpacking, Hiking, Kayaking

Okay, so this is another one that I’ve never been to but it looks and sounds absolutely amazing…. From our glorious Colleen and her husband:

“You can rent kayaks from the small lodge on the lake and paddle around for hours. There are trails in the surrounding mountains that overlook that lake offering beautiful views of the area. They’re well maintained, easily accessible and open to day hiking as well as some overnight camping. Hill Farmstead Brewery, just a short drive away offers some delicious brews and was nominated as the “Best new brewery in the world” since 2012. The beach makes an amazing place to lounge and swim during the summer heat.”

Definitely getting added to my summer escape list…

Best time to go: June-September

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Backpacking, Climbing, Mountaineering

The White Mountains are a backpacker’s paradise. Covering over 750,000 acres with over 1,200 miles of hiking trails including over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail this place is a must visit for any backpacker or hardcore day hiker. The forest contains 6 different wilderness areas as well as the summit of Mt. Washington, the 6,288’ highpoint of New Hampshire. A small minus of the area (or plus depending on how you look at this), the US Forest Service had several signs that warn you when approaching tree line that “mountain summit areas have the worst weather in America” and to come prepared. Mt. Washington has experience over 230mph winds at the summit and over 135 people have died trying to attempt the summit. The White Mountains also have some of the best skiing in the east and draw backcountry skiers from around the world to Huntington’s and Tuckerman’s Ravines in the Great Gulf Wilderness for world class runs. The White’s hold a special place in my heart and have been the location of some major successes (two winter summits of Mt. Washington) as well as some low points (my own and several other’s unsuccessful summit attempts). With out a doubt, if you have the time and want an adventure, this is the place to be. For those of you who like fall colors, head north in the second week of October and the trees will be on fire with color as the cold winter air begins to settle in.

Best time to go: Year-Round (If you like winter activities)

Adirondack Mountains (High Peaks Wilderness), New York

Car Camping, Backpacking, Climbing, Mountaineering

I’ve driven through the Adirondacks in the winter and fall and have always wanted to stop and explore the area…. Quite a few of the RRT crew has stopped by the area throughout their adventures around the country and the world. The last to go was Dalton during the fall of 2019, here’s what he had to say:

“With an unreal number of trails, you can make mix and match to create your ideal backpacking itinerary. Almost all campsites include a shelter and an outhouse so it’s as close to glamping as you can get while still carrying everything on your back. Year round the 46er peaks will give you a tough climb with some of the most breathtaking views this side of the Mississippi.”

The Adirondacks are also home to Mt. Marcy, the 5,344’ highpoint of New York with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. It makes for a challenging climb in the warm seasons and an even more fun climb in cold weather (micro-spikes recommended). Next time I get to New England, definitely stopping by.

Best time to go: May-October

Delaware Seashore State Park, Delaware

Hiking, Sea-Kayaking, Fishing, Beach Bummin

This little gem sits just north of the Chesapeake Bay along the Coastal Highway, it covers 2,825 acres and protects 6 miles of Atlantic coast shoreline. The park offers two different car campgrounds as well as lifeguard patrolled beaches and quiet coastal inlets for more protected kayaking. In the summer you can find surfers on the beach as well as ample opportunities to fish. Some areas in the bay also allow public clamming and crabbing. In all, a cool place to visit if you’re ever traveling up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Best time to go: June-September

Explore more locations from the Off the Beaten Path Series: South, Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, Northwest