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Brittany Shiver

Magic is sprinkled all over this island, it is truly an otherworldly place. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, camp at one of the backcountry sites several miles inland. You’ll be rewarded with seclusion and greetings from feral horses and armadillos. Make sure you’re ready to drink sulfurous water (a small price to pay for all the adventure and beauty you’ll get) and that you’re prepared with ample bug spray, a map and a compass - this island is much bigger than you think. And stay on marked trails to avoid running into big gators!

This is the road trip to take if you are interested in obscene views and beauty for miles and miles of slowly winding mountain roads. In June, rhododendrons start blooming all over, dotting the landscape with shades of pink. There are overlooks everywhere for you to pause and drink the scenery in. Take your time and plan to hit up Mt. Mitchell if you have a chance - or make your way to the quaint town of Burnsville - if you’re lucky, you may stumble into an unmarked swimming hole or a massive waterfall.

This is a pretty short, sweet hike that lands you a gorgeous view at Preacher’s Rock. It seems like a different place with each season - check it out in winter time for the most dramatic views and sounds (massive trees creaking against each other in the wind). Try to head up early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid the crowded parking lot or too many other hikers. Backpackers: if you take the other trail at the base of the parking lot, you’ll experience less people and can snag a really lovely campsite with great views overlooking more mountain just a couple miles in; keep going through Gooch Gap to get to the nearest AT shelter.

You can make this easy or difficult by choosing to take a hike up the Arkaquah trail to get here (a well worth-it challenge, takes a few hours) or starting at the base of the Brasstown Bald (takes a few minutes) by the visitor center and taking the short walk up a paved trail. Either way, you’ll get sweeping views of several southern states and a huge swath of sky.

This is a great, moderate hike with no coverage that rewards you with a literal oasis in the desert. Pack a snack or a lunch and veg out under the palms while you soak in the views, the coolness and the sounds of the bugs and birds. It’s a thrill. If you’re headed to Joshua Tree, put this place on your list. It’s just a few miles outside the park - no park fee!

This is Georgia showing off a few of her many charms: meandering falls, heart pumping trails, and sunset over a canyon. Wear proper footwear and go during summer to see the ferns and greenery on full display - this is also when the water looks bluest. There are many trails to choose from, although the ones leading to the falls are most popular, all are worth traversing. Some trails begin near campsites and yurt village.

Several pretty trails on the side of the TN mountains to traverse here, right outside Chattanooga. The falls are gorgeous - try to go earlier in the day to avoid crowds.

This is a very quick hike from the parking area (very different than arriving via the AT) - the elevation is intense for just a moment before you crest onto the bald and then the views hit you. 360 degrees of rolling mountains, right in the middle of the Appalachian Trail. Take a picnic or a kite. Camping is allowed here - just be sure to get to your spot early before other campers arrive - and be prepared to hike to dig your cathole. Bring warm clothes. If you come during winter months, don’t be disappointed if there’s a surprise snow that blots out your view - the whiteout is another staggering form of beauty to take in.

Try to time your road trip so you can take in a stunning sunset here. Be aware that sometimes sandstorms are so intense that you can get rerouted on part of your journey - and you may end up in reservation territory with no phone signal. If you’re lucky and desert magic is on your side, a local will notice you’re out of place and stop to help direct you back onto your path. And if you find an old dream catcher in the dirt while you’re getting those directions, it’s probably best to leave it.

To be fair, I didn’t climb the mountain - only hiked around the base. From Riobamba, find a local who would be happy to show off this area to drive and show you around. Be prepared for cold. If you aren’t prepared for an epic and intense hike experience, cruise up and around the base for mesmerizing mountain views and herds of alpacas bounding by. It was one of my favorite moments in Ecuador, and when I go back again I’ll be prepared to hike to the top.

This is a beautiful hike that’s easy to get to by bus if you’re hanging out in Cuenca. Remember to come prepared - the weather is way different here than it is just outside the park. It was almost freezing and cold the day I was there - the coldest I remember being during my entire June trip in Ecuador, which was largely temperate and mild. There’s tons to take in here, from history to terrain. Pack enough water and enjoy this very rugged and different piece of the country.

This area is one of the greenest places I’ve seen outside the Southeastern US. It is an easy trip by car and affords you mesmerizing views of a place that feels like you’re stepping back in time. It wouldn’t be that far out to imagine a dragon or a knight posted up on one of the nooks of this gorgeous place. Take a long walk, breathe in the air and write your own fairy tale.

This is a pretty small and flat trail that gives you the opportunity to check out all the insanely huge pieces of petrified wood in this park. If you are into rocks and gems and the desert, this is definitely for you - the petrification gives the wood an insanely glassy, otherworldly look and feel. If you aren’t big on rocks, you may want to pass - this is less of a hike and more of a geology lesson.

I came here as a tourist and was captivated by the views and the stark beauty of the trail. It seems massive, so map out your course before you take off, and make sure to bring adequate water and sunscreen. The sun can feel relentless even when the clouds are out - there’s no coverage for you on this fun SoCal hike.

Hiking this trail feels like a dream. You are quite literally hiking on the edge of an epic canyon. The earthy hues of the canyon seem to get more vibrant as you make your descent as you become a part of the canyon itself. The path can get quite narrow; wear proper footwear and sunscreen and bring a substantial amount of water and snacks. To soak in all the magic, pack a sack lunch to allow your eyes to settle on the views before you make your way back.

This is a lovely pocket of nature in a very busy part of the city. The trails are quiet and winding and lead you through a series of different terrains in just a few short miles. It’s never crowded and there are plenty of plant specimens to check out along the trail. If you zone out on the trail long enough, city noise dissipates and it almost feels like you’ve stepped into another world.

The Beltline is a fun way to see some of Atlanta’s diverse neighborhoods if you like urban exploring on a popular path. It gets packed on the weekends and there are a lot of cyclists, but no bike lane. Also groups like to meander in rows that can mess with your flow on a serious run. To maximize your enjoyment, start at Victory in Inman Park, have a Jack and Coke slushee, play a round of ping pong and then hit the Beltline. Stop at the piano under the bridge, take in the skaters at the skatepark, walk into the backside of Paris on Ponce and grab a snack from 8 Arm. Walk until you hit Piedmont Park, find the pond, scope out the Botanical Gardens, or just breathe and take in the views.