Next Time Try. . .
Mark Twain National Forest: Missouri
WHY HERE? In April, while the rest of the Midwest thaws, roses and dogwoods are bursting along the White River. Set up camp at the North Fork Campground along the river's limestone bluffs ($8 a night). Just downstream, anglers can stalk wary brown and rainbow trout, and placid Class I and II whitewater will entice beginner paddlers. The 35-mile-long singletrack Ridge Runner Trail slices along the Ozarks' rocky cliffs and beneath towering oak and hickory stands; hikers can walk a mile and a half to a bike-free trail network inside the 6,595-acre Devil's Backbone Wilderness Area. Click here for a topographical map of this area.
Click here for a topographical map of this area.
INDULGE IN: Sea kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing
WHY HERE? Just a short meander from the lakeside trailhead inside Tettegouche State Park are 13 campsites perched on a series of smooth granite bluffs, some 50 feet above Lake Superior and backed by the rolling Sawtooth Mountains. While taking in the stunning ocean-size views is certainly a worthwhile pursuit, you'll hardly have time. After all, two of Minnesota's top climbing cragsÂ‹180-foot Shovel Point and 300-foot Palisade HeadÂ‹stand within a mile on either side of camp. Rappel down from the bluffs and, secure above Superior's lapping waters, you'll find more than 50 quality routesÂ‹from the classic 5.6 Great Yawn to Arm's Race, a relic of the Cold War rated at 5.11c/d. Other enticements include a daylong paddling excursion (launch from right below your campsite) into the sea caves that line the coast andÂ a hike through the Sawtooth Mountains' northern hardwood forests via the 235-mile-long Superior Hiking Trail. And nearby Lutsen Mountain (about 30 miles north on Minnesota 61) offers more than 50 miles of lift-served, white-knuckle singletrack.
BONUS: For a deluxe dessert, stop at Betty's Pies (877-269-7494, www.bettyspies.com), a 30-minute drive south on Minnesota 61, and stock up on her famous lemon angel pies.
ACCESS: Stop in at the Tettegouche State Park office, 58 miles north of Duluth on Minnesota 61, pick up the wheelbarrow you reserved to haul your gear (yes, wheelbarrow), and proceed to the trailhead. From there, it's a one-quarter- to three-quarter-mile cart-in to the bluff sites.
RESOURCES: Tettegouche State Park, 218-226-6365. For tent-site reservations ($12 a night), call 800-246-2267 and specify the cart-in campground.