The Joyce-Kilmer Slickrock and Citico Creek Wilderness, in the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests, straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee line next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Together with mountain-rimmed Calderwood Lake, this is one of the largest, most rugged wilderness areas in the East, with mile-high peaks, clear creeks, and tracts of virgin forest.
Valley and Bonas Defeat Gorge, in the Nantahala
National Forest, lie on the eastern continental divide in North
Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. This natural area, managed
by the U.S. Forest Service, contains deep gorges and broad
valleys, mountain bogs and granitic rock domes, tranquil creeks
and plunging waterfalls.
The Bartram National Recreation Trail has been rated by the readers of Backpacker Magazine as one of the ten best long trails in the country to hike. Built in honor of the early American naturalist William Bartram, the Bartram Trail crosses rocky peaks and follows cascading creeks in the Nantahala National Forest of western North Carolina for 80 uncrowded and beautiful miles in the Fishhawk, Nantahala, and Cheoah Mountains. ["Hiking the Bartram Trail"]
Little Tennessee River is one of the best canoe-camping rivers
in the Southern Appalachians. In the 30-mile stretch from Franklin
to Lake Fontana the meandering river leaves the farmland of the Little
Tennessee River Valley and cuts between the Cowee and Nantahala Mountains,
forming Class I-III rapids, with heavily forested banks. The river passes under swinging
footbridges and squeezes through the narrow chutes of stone fishtraps
built by the Cherokee hundreds of years ago.
The beautiful Uwharrie River begins in the Piedmont of North Carolina, near the town of Asheboro, and flows south for 70 miles through the Uwharrie Mountains and Uwharrie National Forest to Lake Tillery, near Morrow Mountain State Park. A pleasant Class I river, the Uwharrie passes between forested banks and under a few back-road bridges, as it winds between scenic bluffs and bounces over easy rapids. It is an excellent river for novice canoeists to enjoy and to hone their skills on, and it passes several deep-woods campsites right next to the water.
Fishing Creek flows through the oak, pine and cypress forests of North Carolina’s Coastal Plains for over 100 miles before joining the Tar River east of Rocky Mount. It is one of the state’s most secluded rivers. In Paddling Eastern North Carolina Paul Ferguson notes that long stretches of this twisting stream are “remote . . . with no houses, bridges, or powerlines.”
The Congaree Swamp National Park,
thirty miles southeast of Columbia, South Carolina, preserves the
largest remaining virgin tract of bottomland swamp hardwood forest
in the South. Here can be seen in their most impressive proportions
such trees as overcup oak, water tupelo, American elm, bald cypress
and loblolly pine. The Congaree also teems with wildlife, including
barred owls, turkey, deer, wild boar, brown water snakes, herons,
and many different kinds of woodpeckers.
The Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, along with the Suwannee and Saint Mary's Rivers, which flow out of the Okefenokee, is the second-largest wetland in the United States, with open marshes, forests of bald cypress, and sand islands covered with pines. This primitive wilderness of 700 square miles covers the southeastern corner of Georgia, and it contains an abundance of Deep-South plant and animal life, including insectivorous pitcher plants, endangered wood storks, and an estimated 15,000 alligators.
The Ogeechee River
twists and turns for 250 miles through some of the wildest forests
in Georgia on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. It is described in Southern
Georgia Canoeing as "intimate, serene, and beautiful,"
with a setting that is "primitive in the extreme." In 1984
it was recommended for designation as a National Wild and Scenic River
by the National Park Service. The Ogeechee is bordered by giant bald
cypresses more than a thousand years old.
The Big South Fork National Recreation River, along with its swift tributary, The Clear Fork, and the nearby Wolf River, flows for more than 100 canoeable miles through the densely forested canyons of the Cumberland Plateau. Protected by the National Park Service, these rivers have Class I-III rapids, including Angel Falls and Devils Jump, as well as 400-foot-high cliffs, and clear, tranquil pools that mirror the surrounding canyon walls. This is one of the best whitewater canoe-camping rivers in the East.
Big Bend National
and The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic
form a huge, other-worldly region of rocky volcanic peaks, massive
limestone fault blocks, and sheer-walled canyons in the Chihuahuan
Desert of southwestern Texas. In the Big Bend hikers can find silence
and solitude and night skies that are filled with brilliant stars.
There are dozens of species of cacti, unusual desert plants such as
lechuguilla and candelilla, and strange-looking forests of giant yuccas.
There are also mountain lions, peccaries, coyotes, jackrabbits, and
wild burros. And on the spectacular Rio Grande itself--flowing through
"stone box" canyons up to 2000 feet deep--canoeists can
explore one of the most remote rivers in the Southwest. ["Big
Bend/Rio Grande Surf 'n Turf," "Paddling the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande"]
Grande Ronde Wild and Scenic River, fed by melting
snows from the Elkhorn and Wallowa Mountains, flows for 185 miles
through the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington to where it joins
the Snake River. Also known as Chief Josephs River, because
it lies in the traditional lands of the Nez Perce Indians, the Grande
Ronde is described in Western Whitewater as a river offering "one of the most scenic river trips in the Pacific Northwest." This is a Class II-III stream dropping swiftly through basalt canyons more
than 3000 feet deep and forested with Douglas fir, larch, and ponderosa
pine. [2011 ACA Exclusive! "Riding The Grande Ronde"
Klamath, a federally designated “National Wild
and Scenic River,” is California’s longest whitewater
stream. It starts in the Oregon Cascades, near Crater Lake, then flows
south and west across the state line and to the Pacific Ocean through
the forested Klamath and Coast Range Mountains of northern California.
The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, of eastern Oregon, rises out of the Malheur National Forest as a compact, heavily forested mountain range, with rocky peaks 8-9000 feet high. The Strawberry Mountains are home to elk, mule deer, mountain lion, black bear, big-horned sheep, and golden eagle. The wilderness also contains 100 miles of trails that lead to clear, alpine lakes, high-mountain meadows and bogs, and glaciated valleys, as well as the summit of Strawberry Mountain itself, 9032' tall.
Isle Royale National Park, near the Canadian border, rises out of the largest
and most beautiful fresh-water lake in the world: Lake Superior. As the name
"Royale" suggests, the island is a fitting complement to the lake which
surrounds it. It has a rugged, stunning coastline, with cliffs meeting the water,
as well as bays, beaches, marshes, large creeks, interior lakes, deep forests, and
spine-like ridges-along with 165 miles of hiking trails winding through it all. The
park is home to hundreds of moose and several packs of timber wolves. It was designated a National
Park in 1940, a National Wilderness Area in `76, and an International Biosphere Reserve in `81.