Outdoor activities on the West Coast get a lot of love. Some of the most popular pages on IG and Facebook seem to make the golden canyons and snow-capped peaks their focus for the #travelstoke hashtags. Living here on the East coast it's easy to feel envious of their epically gorgeous trails and want to pick up a second job in order to afford more frequent flights to the other side. I was not born in Georgia, but I was raised here from quite an early age so I consider myself to be a Georgia native. Regardless of what any original Grady baby tries to tell me, Georgia always and will be my home – ok? Ok! I've tested my limits on the Blue Ridge trails and spent nights sleeping along our grand Chattahoochee River, but even I am guilty of lusting over the wilderness and sunsets of the West Coast.
I had the opportunity to meet with @latinxhiker and @outdoorbeerandgear this past week at a movie screening held by Patagonia. It was our first time meeting each other in person and we all immediately commenced to discussing a group backpacking trip. The topic of East Coast vs. West Coast was brought up and we all agreed that travel and hiking IG pages are seriously lacking in their East Coast love! We all agreed that we wanted to help represent the East Coast more and show that our trails, mountains, and forest were equally as beautiful as the west coast.
After our talk, I got to thinking about exactly how many outdoor enthusiasts visit the East Coast each year, and officially where we ranked compared to other regions. I found this report by The Outdoor Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 established by the Outdoor Industry Association to inspire and grow future generations of outdoor enthusiasts, which stated "19% outdoor participants lived in the South Atlantic region of the US, making
its population the most active in outdoor activities" and that "The South Atlantic region, which includes the southern states on the Eastern Seaboard and West Virginia, had the highest rate of outdoor participation in the country. ". So BOOM East Coast, put those numbers on your Avocado toast and eat it! it's official we tha best!
Outdoor activities ranged from hiking and backpacking to fishing and mountain biking, and to my surprise, we were leading in most of these categories. So GO EAST coast! Personally, I think that we lead with visits because we have actual seasons. From our hot but tolerable summers, crisp Fall and Spring and our moderate winters, the East coast just has more to offer 365 days a year. So guys please continue to get out there and discover new trails, but most importantly share your experiences so that we can encourage others who live here to explore our marvelous wilderness. Here is a list of some wilderness areas here in North Georgia. Each one offers epic views, lush trails, and unique experiences.
Local wilderness areas you should visit-
1. Rich Mountain Wilderness - The Rich Mountain Wilderness is a wilderness area within the Chattahoochee National Forest in Gilmer County, Georgia, in the United States.
2. Cohutta Wilderness - The Cohutta Wilderness is the largest wilderness in Georgia. With more than 60,000 visitors each year, it is also the largest, most heavily used wilderness in the Southern Appalachians. It extends to part of Tennessee and North Carolina. This wilderness features my all time favorite trail, Jacks River Falls. It’s a bit of a challenge to get to most trailheads in this wilderness so make sure you take your high clearance vehicle.
3. Brasstown Wilderness - Features the epic Brasstown Bald visitor tower. Not only do you get amazing views once you reach the tippy top, but you will have to tackle a steep & winding drive up to the tower. The drive may or may not be your cup of tea, but the views are epic. Just remember to drive slow and careful.
4. Blood Mountain Wilderness - home to the famous Blood Mountain trail, a favorite hike for those on the AT. Vogel Mountain State park is also a short drive from the Blood Mountain trailhead and hands down one of my favorite camping grounds. This park has something for every level of camper, with walk-in tent sites, power hookups, and RV spaces. They even have activities like hiking (of course), mini golf, kayaking and paddle boats.
5. Chattahoochee National Forest - You will find lot’s and lot’s of things to do in this national forest. From hiking, camping or staying in a cabin in Helen, GA to visiting the Toccoa River Falls and swinging bridge after a short hike. The Toccoa River Swinging bridge is a hidden gem 3 miles down a winding dirt road. This location is a bit more accessible to more people thanks to the dirt road and a great place to visit with your family.