Bring Your Telescope
Catch sight of 6,000 stars in the East Coast’s darkest domain.
In Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park, the skies are so dark that the Milky Way casts shadows. The park is purpose-built to let visitors enjoy the show, with rentable small observatories and a mountaintop astronomy field that doubles as a campground ($11; red lights only). Start with a 6.3-mile loop hike along Pine Creek’s west branch, a mile away on PA 44 (Trip ID2110610). Target the first weekend of May for starry highlights: a park-led sky tour on Saturday and the Eta Aquarids meteor shower on Sunday. Contact (814) 435-5010; bit.ly/cherryspringsSP
This Just In
Tennessee’s Cumberland Trail grows.
Volunteer State hikers have fresh dirt to explore: A new 38-mile section of the Cumberland Trail (CT) is now open in the isolated North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area west of Knoxville (Trip ID 2142741). The CT will eventually follow the entire 300-mile-long Cumberland Plateau across the state, but of the 190 miles of established trail, the freshly minted New River Segment is the most remote. “This is the place to go to find solitude,” says CT Conference manager Tony Hook. “There’s so little traffic, the trail is still soft.” Expect steep climbs along seasonal creeks and big views from former mountaintop-removal sites that have bounced back with native grasses, creating man-made “balds.” Short on time? Hit the 10-mile stretch across Lawson Mountain, which boasts elk and meadows thick with spring wildflowers. Contactcumberlandtrail.org
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Garrett Kreiner, 18, of Simpsonville, South Carolina, found this epic perch just off the 2-mile loop trail to 4,930-foot Whiteside Mountain, which boasts the highest cliffs in the East. That’s him in the photo—his friend Matthew Clayton snapped the winning shot. Join the fun: Tag your hiking photo #BPmag on Instagram, and follow us @backpackermag. Trip ID2148469
Trail This rocky 2.4-mile loop leads from the banks of the Patapsco River to a 10-foot cascade. Post-hike, dive into a bucket of steamed crabs at Ships Cafe in Catonsville (shipscafe.net). Trip ID5665
Ascend a 2,625-foot summit on this 6.2-mile out-and-back for views to the Adirondacks and a 985-acre lake hugging the peak’s base. On the way home, meander the 1.2-mile, poetry-lined Robert Frost Interpretive Trail to channel the hometown bard (bit.ly/frosttrail). Trip ID5705
Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge
Glimpse ducks, herons, and some of the 200 other bird species that call this wetland home on a 2-mile boardwalk stroll. Pack a picnic to savor more Garden State serenity 5 miles down the road along Passaic River County Park’s shoreline (morrisparks.net). Trip ID419399