Most outdoor lovers know about hiking the Appalachian Trail or exploring the Grand Canyon. While those are bucket-list adventures and life-changing experiences, there are innumerable more options out there that are just as thrilling. Whether you’re backpacking, climbing, paddling, or biking, here are seven underrated outdoor adventures across the U.S. to keep on your radar.
1. Bikepack the Red Meadow Pass Loop
Where: Whitefish, Montana, into Glacier National Park
Difficulty level: Moderate
Estimated time: 3-4 days
Details: This route is just over 100 miles of truly amazing country in northern Montana, including a remote section through Glacier National Park. The loop begins and ends in Whitefish, and has a variety of free and accessible camping for bikers who want to take two, three, or four days to complete the route. Mountain views, challenging climbs, and sweeping descents define this convenient, easy-to-follow ride. The majority of the loop is on well-graded dirt and four-wheel-drive roads, with a few short sections of pavement.
2. Paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail
Where: New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine
Difficulty Level: Difficult
Estimated Time: 50 to 60 days, end to end
Details: While you don’t have to paddle the entire length of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the full route from Old Forge, New York, to Fort Kent, Maine, is undoubtedly a bucket-list adventure. The water trail has 13 sections through a variety of developed and backcountry regions and a dedicated infrastructure that makes planning and navigation as user-friendly as possible. Paddlers are encouraged to try out different sections of this route, with maps and planning tools for trips of all distances.
3. Explore Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Where: Escalante, Utah
Difficulty Level: Easy to difficult
Estimated Time: Allow at least 3-4 days to explore
Details: What isn’t there to do here? National Monuments are like National Parks’ lesser-known cousins, and Grand Staircase-Escalante is one of the most expansive and stunning of them all. There are multiple visitor centers and miles of hiking trails ranging from the desert floor to sandstone canyons and coniferous forests. There’s no end to the camping, backpacking, biking, and touring you can do in this region. Coyote Gulch and Peek-a-Boo/Spooky Slot Canyons are some of the more well-known spots to explore, but you can hit up Escalante River for an overnight backpacking trip or Aquarius Plateau for mountain biking to escape potential crowds.
4. Hike the Pinhoti Trail
Where: Alabama and Georgia
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Estimated Time: 4 weeks, end-to-end
Details: This 339-mile trail traverses the southern Appalachians, but you won’t find the same crowds as you will on the Appalachian Trail. The Pinhoti Trail is both a standalone adventure and an ideal preparation hike for a longer thru-hike. Although the Pinhoti Trail has a deeply wooded and remote feel, hikers are never too far from a road crossing, and the one-month timeline provides enough time in the woods for a real reset.
5. Boulder Moe’s Valley
Where: St. George, Utah
Difficulty Level: Easy to difficult
Estimated Time: Spend at least four days here… there’s a lot to climb
Details: Less traveled, and thus less crowded than other bouldering-specific areas (looking at you, Bishop and Joe’s Valley), Moe’s Valley in southern Utah has more boulders than climbers can hope to explore in one trip. With close to 200 problems ranging from V1 to V13, the climbs feel fluid, are rarely contrived, and the landing zones are clean. The sandstone conglomerate hosts a variety of climbing styles, from steep, powerful overhung moves on enormous huecos to techy crimps, and delicate, balanced slabs.
6. Sea Kayak the Maine Island Trail
Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult
Estimated Time: 1 month, end-to-end
Details Stretching from the New Hampshire-Maine border all the way to Canada, the 375-mile Maine Island Trail links islands and camping areas, allowing paddlers to explore the entire length of Maine’s rugged and beautiful coastline. This trail can be explored on overnights, weeklong trips, over the course of years, or all at once—there’s no wrong way to do it. Conveniently, it’s accessible from nearly any place along the coast of Maine. The trail connects hundreds of coastal islands and has access granted by private landowners for camping and recreational use.
7. Bike Tour the Lewis and Clark Route
Where: Hartford, Illinois, to Seaside, Oregon
Difficulty level: Difficult
Estimated time: 2.5 – 3 months, end-to-end
Details: The more “front-country” side to long-distance biking, bike touring keeps travelers primarily on roads and out of the backcountry. This well-mapped route follows the path Lewis and Clark took on their voyage west, staying as close to their original river-bound track as possible. This 3,539-mile bike route isn’t for the faint of heart, with tough terrain and some sections that are decidedly difficult for cyclists. This can be section-biked as well, with eight main segments and a variety of alternates.
Written by Matcha for Gregory Mountain Products.
Featured image provided by Anna Papuga
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