Sometimes we all need some fresh air + to spend some time in nature. Not only does hiking allow us to soak up natural vitamin D but it’s also a tough workout [cardio that works your lungs ++ your booty ; )] so for all the CHAARGies who love to wander // explore the great outdoors, we have 18 awesome spots near our CHAARG chapters for you to hike —
>> This is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego because of the pretty scenery [make sure to snap some pics ; )] There are a few steep switchbacks along this trail [it leads to the highest point within San Diego], but with enough determination anyone can get through it — just watch out for snakes along the way! // Check it out here.
IOWA RIVER CORRIDOR TRAIL
>> This trail is the longest + most heavily used trail in Iowa ++ earns the right to be distinguished from any specific park because it actually runs through several different parks [Napoleon Park, City Park, Ned Ashton Park, + Crandic Park] ++ as well as the University of Iowa campus, downtown Iowa, + of course the Iowa River. // Check it out here.
DEVIL’S LAKE STATE PARK
>> This state park shows off how pretty the Midwest can be [it’s not just prairieland, believe it or not!] Wisconsin CHAARGies can find plenty of ways to get active here — there are hiking trails, camping sites, + paddleboards // kayaks for rent to soak in the beauty of Devil’s Lake. You can even rock climb + scuba dive out here! // Check it out here.
STARVED ROCK STATE PARK
>> Voted the #1 attraction in Illinois as well as being Illinois’ largest state park, Starved Rock is only 1.5 hours from the great city of Chicago! It has hiking trails + offers fishing [even ice fishing during the freezing winters], boating, + plenty of areas to relax // picnic. // Check it out here.
MORGAN-MONROE STATE FOREST
>> This forest land encompasses 24,000 acres in the Morgan + Monroe counties of central Indiana with steep ridges // valleys, featuring the Three Lakes Trail // the Low Gap Trail. It offers activities like hiking, camping, fishing, boating, hunting, picnicking, ++ even panning for gold! // Check it out here.
DEERFIELD NATURE PARK
>> If you’re in Michigan + looking for a nice, short-ish hike, the pleasant 4- to 7-mile loop through the Deerfield Forest features scenic sites along the banks of the Chippewa River + an old wooden bridge. // Check it out here.
MOHICAN STATE PARK
>> This park in central Ohio features the Hemlock Gorge, running along the 300-foot deep sandstone gorge to the launch pad of Lyons Falls. This area is one of Ohio’s most unique natural regions with the Clear Fork Gorge, Hemlock Forest, + Mohican River, providing many opportunities for hiking, backpacking, + camping. // Check it out here.
MOUNT AIRY FOREST
>> This is Cincinnati’s largest park + right near downtown, so if you’re at a school nearby, definitely make sure to visit this place at some point! There are 1,459 acres of hiking // biking trails, as well as forest lodges, picnic areas, a public tree house, dog park, ++ disc golf [this would be a cool place for a Chapter retreat ; )] // Check it out here.
GREATER WORCESTER LAND TRUST
>> Between our Maryland chapters + DC lays all the land owned by this non-profit nature conservation organization. There are tons of trails to choose from in this area, including Cascading Waters, Brigham Road Parcels, Green Hill Park, the Bovenzi Conservation Area, Cooks Pond, the Moreland Woods, ++ so much more. // Check it out here.
CLARK RESERVATION STATE PARK
>> This park up in New York has pretty much every geological feature [minus an actual mountain or desert] — rugged cliffs + rocky outcrops, woodland + meadows, a wetland ++ several lakes. It would be difficult to get bored here — you can go fishing, hiking, cliff jumping, + boating. You can visit the nature center, go on a guided nature walk, bird watch, picnic, + enjoy live music at one of the several pavilions in the park. // Check it out here.
BLACKWATER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
>> Between our Maryland chapters + DC lays the waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. In addition to the 4 land trails, Blackwater NWR offers several bike routes // water trails ++ plenty of wildlife observing! // Check it out here.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
>> This beautiful + vast national park area spans across the border between North Carolina + Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains are America’s most visited national park because of its diversity of plant + animal life, iconic smoky mountains, ++ remnants of the Southern Appalachian mountain culture [++ all the cute baby black bears you might run into!] // Check it out here.
EDISTO BEACH STATE PARK
>> This beachfront campground in South Carolina has plenty of options for exploring — hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, boating, swimming, ++ there’s even an environmental education center to learn about the history of Edisto Island. // Check it out here.
SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK
>> This iconic park extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia + features wetlands, waterfalls, + rocky peaks like Hawksbill + Old Rag mountains. It is also the heart of the Appalachian Trail, an iconic hiking trail extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia + Mount Katahdin in Maine. If you’re part of chapters in Pennsylvania or the Virginia’s you can easily find a path along the Appalachian Trail [++even set a goal of backpacking the whole thing someday ; )] // Check it out here.
TALLADEGA NATIONAL FOREST
>> This national forest in Alabama has various hiking // biking trails that range in difficulty as well as a few lakes + swimming spots! // Check it out here.
AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK
>> If you’re in Georgia + love waterfalls, this park is a must. Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast [729 feet!] Amicalola is a Cherokee word for “tumbling waters,” so you bet there are plenty of other gorgeous waterfalls throughout the park. // Check it out here.
KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST
>> Only 2 hours from Baton Rouge, this park features the longest trail in Louisiana, the Wild Azalea Trail — 28 miles full of hiking trails + blooming wild Azaleas. // Check it out here.
WITHLACOOCHEE STATE FOREST
>> Named one of the “10 coolest places you’ve never been to in North America” by the World Wildlife Fund, this park is perfect for all you Floridian CHAARGies ; ) There are plenty of fun activities to take advantage of here — camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding ++ seasonal fishing // hunting — check it out here.
Hiking is more fun when it’s done in groups, so plan an excursion for your small group to explore nearby hiking trails. Maybe plan a retreat at a site that has camping ++ make a weekend of it! Maybe you might even be passing through another CHAARG city + want to plan a hike with girls from other schools at their nearby hiking spots : ) whatever you do, don’t forget to take pictures and share with us on Insta!
++ Cassie [@cassiem_inchaarg] // Belmont University