While the southeast is known for its hot summers, it is an outdoor lover’s dream if you know where to look. Whether you prefer surfing in the sunshine state or hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, there is something for everyone in the southeast. Try some of these outdoor activities this summer!
Hike the southern Appalachians which are home to 6,000+ foot peaks and a lush rainforest-like environment that has stunning waterfalls and rivers nestled inside.
In the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina, you will find Max Patch, one of the most breathtaking spots anywhere in the world.
In Georgia, you can hike Blood Mountain, the highest peak along the Appalachian Trail, or Providence Canyon, a hidden gem in southern Georgia. The canyons here are reminiscent of the massive western canyons you see out west and there are many areas to hike and camp, as well as access to the canyon floor.
The Roan Highlands in Tennessee is a must-hike that is unmatched in the Southeast. In the spring and early summer, wildflowers cover the grassy balds. The longest stretch of grassy bald that can be found in the Appalachian Mountains can be found in Grassy Ridge, along the easter flank of Roan Mountain.
Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
The Southeast is a geographically diverse region that is best known for its laid-back lifestyle and an abundance of outdoor recreation. Watersports such as kayaking, and paddle boarding are no exception!
With miles of coastline, major rivers, and numerous lakes in this area, there are some epic places to kayak or SUP in the Southeast.
Arkansas has 9,700 miles of rivers and over 2,300 lakes and over 50 percent of its land is forested. Big Piney Creek runs 67 miles through the Ozarks and offers a variety of rapids for all types of water lovers.
Florida has a multitude of options for water sports in lakes, rivers, springs, and of course in the ocean. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a must-paddle. Not only is it beautiful, but it is the best place to kayak because there is bioluminescent plankton in the water that glows at night!
One more must-see spot for paddling is Lake Pontchartrain, which sits 20 minutes outside of New Orleans. This lake is the second-largest saltwater lake in the United States and is rather shallow with near-perfect paddling conditions most of the time, depending on the weather.
While the Southeast might not be a place you think of for surfing, there are some great waves to be found.
Cocoa Beach, Florida is a well-known surfing spot with easy reliable waves. There is plenty of space to ride waves as most of the people on the beach are beachgoers, not surfers. St Augustine, also in Florida, is one of the best places to surf in the sunshine state. Whether you are a long boarder, shredder, beginner, or expert, you’ll find a fun wave to ride.
Next, the Outer Banks of North Carolina have ample surf spots to choose from, but for the best, check out Kitty Hawk. During hurricane season, Wrightsville, North Carolina is a great spot for catching storm-made waves. But outside of hurricane season, there is decent surf perfect for a day out in the sun.
If you want to see a glimpse of what is underwater in the Southeast, try scuba diving this summer. Most diving in the Southeast is warm, except for Florida’s springs, which stay at 72 degrees year-round. Pack a wetsuit for comfort while you dive!
Check out Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Georgia to get up close to colorful corals, over 200 species of fish, sea turtles, lobsters, and more! Be aware, Georgia’s conditions can be challenging so to dive, you need proof of 25 ocean dives to participate. If you want to dive in shallower water, Jupiter Florida has some fun dives for less-advanced divers.
If snorkeling is more your style, Dry Tortugas National Park in Key West, Florida is the most remote place that you can reach in the continental United States. Since the reef is quite shallow, snorkeling is a fun way to get close to the wildlife below the water.
Rivaling some trails out west, the Southeast is a mecca for mountain biking. With lush tree-covered mountains, rolling hills, and a temperate climate, mountain biking here is a joy.
Dupont State Forest in Brevard North Carolina has over 80 miles of single track available to explore. The various trails include sights such as scenic waterfalls and rhododendron tunnels, jumps, rocky technical sections, and steep climbs.
Alabama offers Coldwater Mountain which caters to mountain bikers of all levels. There are more than 35 miles of trails that crisscross over 4,000 acres and are one of the best mountain biking trail systems that you will find in the Southeast.
The Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail in Tennessee is a converted 6.7-mile segment of the Tennessee Central Railway. The scenery along this trail varies as it winds through shady forests, expansive green fields, and marshy wetlands.
Caving or spelunking is a popular sport for those who love the mysterious depths below us. Don’t worry, not all caving has to be cramped and claustrophobic!
Ruby Falls in Tennessee can be found in the Lookout Caverns where you will walk down into a dimly lit limestone path towards a breathtaking 145-foot-tall waterfall.
In Alabama, check out Cathedral Caverns and feel that hot muggy southern air gets colder as you head further into the cavern. Incredible stalagmites reach towards the ceiling. You will have to go all the way to the bottom to find out why it is called “Cathedral Caverns.”
Luray Caverns, in Virginia, 400 million years in the making, boast some of the more unique formations that can be found in a cave. Inside is a lake, no deeper than two feet, that perfectly reflects the stalactites dripping from the ceiling above which makes you feel like you are looking into an entirely different world. Cool!
Get Equipped for Summer Adventures with 3RK
Get ready for your summer adventures with new gear from 3RK! From surfboards to skateboards, kayaks, and paddleboards, we have it all! Apply for our easy lease-to-own program and get out there in the summer sun with new gear today!
image courtesy of peakvisor.com