The Rivers & Trails are Calling, and You Must Go

Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Lake Mead National Recreation Area - NPS Photo / Andrew Cattoir

A gust of wind on your cheeks as you walk to school or work or the store, and suddenly you feel the intense desire to throw off your responsibilities for the day (or the week). That’s the rivers and trails calling, and you must go! The rivers and trails preserved throughout the country each have a plethora of recreational opportunities for visitors, as well as rich histories, and views that sweep away your worries… at least for a little while.

Paddling Through New York

Hudson River snakes through the trees; view from Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

The Hudson River from Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

NPS Photo

Stretch out your arms as you escape down the river on the Hudson River Greenway National Water Trail. The trail was established in 2001, and today paddlers of all levels enjoy this journey beginning in Adirondack Park and ending in Manhattan’s Battery Park. You’ll find a launch and take-out every 10-miles and campsites dot the shore for when you’re ready to pause. Canoe or kayak along the rivers or explore historic sites and hiking trails on foot.

A Historic Passage

Orange and yellow autumnal leaves scatter the wooded pathway of the Potkopinu section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

Potkopinu section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

NPS Photo

Through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail beckons to history buffs curious to travel the same trails as those who walked the path hundreds and even thousands of years before. Through wetlands and swamps and under hanging Spanish moss, hiking the paths allows you to explore the Old Southwest along five different trails. Visit one or explore each of them to see the changing scenery as you explore the long swaths of wilderness.

Caves and Canyons Out West

Two kayakers take in the canyons along the Black Canyon National Water Trail

Black Canyon National Water Trail

NPS / Christie Vanover

Located within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Black Canyon National Water Trail flows for 30-miles, complete with beaches, caves, coves, and quiet. Float down the river, keeping your eyes peeled for desert bighorn sheep and historic structures. Your journey starts at the Hoover Dam and continues till you reach Eldorado Canyon — a spot where thousands of Spaniards once camped out in search of gold during the late 1700s. Be sure to also take a moment to explore Emerald Cave, which shimmers green as the afternoon sunlight hits its waters.

The Midwest’s Wetlands

Kankakee River surrounded by trees; Kankakee River National Water Trail

Kankakee River in Indiana, Kankakee National Water Trail

WikiMedia / Chris Light

Explore the Kankakee River National Water Trail to travel through the area that was once home to America’s largest wetlands. Here you can experience thousands of acres of natural areas and preserves. Spanning throughout Indiana and Illinois, tubing, bird watching, and fishing are some of the other great ways to enjoy the area. For those who prefer to stay on land, walking paths and bike paths follow the river.

Northeastern Landscapes

Trees surround Lake Louise in Penwood State Park, spotted along the New England National Scenic Trail

Lake Louise in Penwood State Park, along the New England National Scenic Trail

WikiMedia / Sage Ross

Among the historic villages of the Northeast, answer the call of the wild as you follow the New England National Scenic Trail. Forests, farms, and waterfalls dot the 215 miles of trail through Massachusetts and Connecticut. For a longer journey, reserve a cabin or lean-to. In the colder months, explore the same areas on snowshoe or skis for a completely different experience.

Graze your fingers along the river’s current and take a deep breath of fresh air. When the rivers and trails call, you must go — and you certainly won’t regret it. Next time you hear the call, #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque at one of these spots or along another trail or river nearby.

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