FIRE TOWERS Sheltowee Trace, TN/KY
HISTORY North Bend Rail Trail, WV
This 72-mile section of the American Discovery Trail in North Bend State Park passes through 13 tunnels blasted and bored by the B&O Railroad in the 1850s— including the longest, 337-foot Tunnel #10 at mile 30.4. Take a headlamp through Tunnel #19 at mile 21.9. Old train hands claim to have seen the shade of a woman in a wedding gown, and hikers have reported sudden temperature drops, mysterious breezes, and arches that appear to glow deep underground. northbendsp.com
FLORA Art Loeb Trail, NC
Survey the best of eastern blooms on this 36-mile route in Pisgah National Forest. Begin near Cold Mountain and traverse balds fringed with blueberries (July). At mile 24.6, hit 6,040-foot Shining Rock’s quartzite summit, then go left to the Shining Creek Trail. Descend under a canopy adorned with flowering yellow-and-orange tulip poplars and an understory colored by magenta princess slippers (both April). Loop back to the Art Loeb on the Big East Fork and Greasy Cove Trails. ncnatural.com
Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Dwayne Hoffman, 34, of Manassas Park, Virginia, heads to Sky Meadows State Park to hike the South Ridge and Ambassador Whitehouse Trails.
Gabriel Butler, 32, of Richmond, Kentucky, loves to dayhike nearby Red River Gorge. He heads off-trail near Auxier Ridge in his ongoing hunt for hidden arches along the rim.