East Palisades Loop, Chattahoochee National Recreation Area
Enjoy wilderness bounty (woodpeckers, orioles, herons, and late-spring blooming mountain laurels) without leaving the city on this 3.8-mile riverside loop (Trip ID* 60116). Download our free smartphone app, GPS Trails, to check out 25 more hikes within the metro area and a waterfall-filled trip in north Georgia’s hills.
3 Perfect Days
Charleston, SC: Palmetto Trail
Get an early start on this 8.2-mile out-and-back through the cypress swamps of Francis Marion NF. That’ll leave time to see a flight demo and visit the hawks, falcons, owls, and eagles at the Center for Birds of Prey on your way home (Thurs.-Sat., $12, thecenterforbirdsofprey.org). Trip ID 20785
Manchester, NH: Mt. Madison
Get pumped by starting your day on the half-mile zip-line at Wildcat Mountain ($20, skiwildcat.com; tickets first-come starting at 9:30 a.m.). With summer’s long days, you’ll still have time to conquer nearby Mt. Madison on foot, via a steep, 7.8-mile hike to a 5,267-foot summit with views stretching all the way to Maine. Trip ID 5670
Washington, DC: Billy Goat Trail B & C
Raging whitewater—not chattering crowds—provides the soundtrack to this 5.8-mile semi-loop along the Potomac River. Down the road, Glen Echo park offers more music: Ride the 1920s-era Dentzel Carousel—you’ll feel like a kid again ($1; glenechopark.org). Trip ID 36431
6/2 National Trails Day
Spotlight: New York
Join one of 75 simultaneous section hikes as part of a one-day traverse of the 568-mile Finger Lakes Trail (fltconference.org). Find an event near you: americanhiking.org/ntd.
Pack Your Zoom Lens
Spy fawns in Shenandoah National Park.
Wander quietly through the field at Shenendoah’s Big Meadows during peak fawning season (late May through June), and you’re basically guaranteed a close encounter with a baby white-tailed deer, Bambi spots and all. About 150 deer per square mile thrive in the area, and they love to linger near the forest’s edge. The best fawn-watching plan: arrive in the morning or late afternoon, bring binoculars, and plan to stay at least 30 yards away. Once you’ve had your fill of the fuzzballs, walk the 3.3-mile Lewis Falls Trail loop and keep your eyes and ears open for migratory songbirds like veerys and cerulean warblers, which show up in June. Contact (540) 999-3500; nps.gov/shen
Earn Your StripesAllegheny 100 Backpacking Challenge
Why try to conquer 100 miles of the North Country Trail through Pennsylvania’s Allegheny NF in just 50 hours? “It’s been a great way to refine my packing and get in better shape,” says Mike Merry, the only finisher in the hike’s two-year history. “Plus, it’s a nice walk.” This year’s event starts Friday, June 8, with 25- and 50-mile options as well. Hikers will head north from Marienville on the mostly level path through white pine and hemlock, past rock outcrops and mountain laurel-choked drainages. Registration deadline for the official hike is June 1 ($30 includes shuttle; northcountrytrail.org), or do it on your own anytime.