Ask your friends for a recommendation on a fun place to visit and on a good day you might get a handful of responses. They may suggest camping here, or skiing there, but even your most seasoned adventurers can’t tell you everything. Sure, your news feed might be blowing up with fun looking pictures every 13 seconds, but why settle for just pictures? Why not go out and see if for yourself? That’s why The North Face and Outside Magazine have put together this list of 50 places you have to #SeeForYourself.
Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
It's easy to give Ohio the shaft when it comes to outside adventures, but this pocket of gorges, sandstone caves, cliffs, and waterfalls network in southeastern Ohio proves the Buckeye State deserves more than a little love. The park itself is spread over 2,000 noncontiguous acres, spanning half a dozen natural highlights, including Old Man's Cave, a hermit's hideout dating back to the late 1700s, and massive Ash Cave, a 700-foot-wide cavern that looks like it was plucked right from the Grand Canyon. Link the two with a ten-mile hike on the Buckeye Trail—a 1,400-mile footpath that loops around the state—and the Bypass Bridal Trail, winding through shady hardwood, past rushing cascades, and into the heart of most rugged canyon in Ohio.
Catamount Trail, Vermont
It's the longest backcountry ski route in North America, extending 300 miles from the southern end of Vermont to the Quebec border along the spine of the Green Mountains. Of all the Catamount Trail's 18 mapped sections, the 9.4 miles from Bolton Valley to the Trapp Family Lodge are arguably the best and burliest, with 1,300 feet of vertical ascent and some of the state's most technical descents. You quickly trade the groomed trails of Bolton Valley Nordic Center for climbing switchbacks (bring skins), easy-to-miss turns, and slippery creek crossings. But the payoffs are huge: backcountry solitude, views of Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump, and, at the end, cushy Sound-of-Music-style digs at the Trapp Family Lodge.
Chittenango Falls, New York
Just east of Syracuse in upstate New York, this 167-foot waterfall is worth a detour on your way north to the Adirondacks or west to the Finger Lakes. Creek plunges over two tiers of ancient bedrock, best viewed from the bridge below. A short network of trails, like Chips and the Gorge Trail take you deeper into the surrounding woods. The town of the same name, a few miles north, is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz. Come winter, a few miles west in Fayetteville, the tiny Four Seasons Ski Resort is pure mom-and-pop: four runs and 100 feet of vertical rise. Epic.
Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
There's lots of things you'd expect to find in the dusty Texas Panhandle: cattle ranches, barbecue, ten-gallon hats. But the second-largest canyon in the country? Yup. At 120 miles long and 20 miles across, Palo Duro is a freak of nature on the West Texas plains, its 800-foot high walls carved over millennia by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. A state park of the same name maintains 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, a fraction of the canyon's backcountry, including the five-mile Lighthouse Trail out-and-back to a 300-foot towering sandstone hoodoo and nearby Castle Peak.
401 Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado
You won't find a more two-wheel-obsessed town than Crested Butte, a mining-town-turned-adventure enclave which vies with Marin, CA, as the birthplace of mountain biking. These days, CB is still the heart and soul of the sport, with hundreds of miles of smooth, fast single track and arguably the finest tire-wide trail in the country, the 401. Camp outside the old mining berg of Gothic and spin up the dirt road to 10,709-foot Schofield Pass, where the 401 veers off and climbs for another mile before beginning its long swooping descent through shoulder-high wildflowers with screaming views to Mount Crested Butte and the Elk Mountains.
Middle Fork of Salmon, Idaho
Rivaling the Grand Canyon as a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness river trip, the Middle Fork couldn't be more different than its desert cousin. The 100-mile stretch through the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness descends from alpine forests near its headwaters into the high desert and deep downstream canyons. Unlike the Grand, which is perpetually silty and chilly, the Middle Fork runs clear and fast through Class III-IV rapids and come summer is brisk but swimmable. Bring your fly rod and cast for browns and rainbows at camp, dunk in the natural hot springs, and keep a watch for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and Native American pictographs.
Mt. Katahdin, Maine
Few sections of the Appalachian Trail hold as much appeal as an ascent of Maine's high point, Mt Katahdin, which marks the route's northern terminus. Even if you don't have five months to walk from Georgia, a day mission to Katahdin will give you a glimmer of the glory and leave you wanting more. From Baxter State Park, the Hunt Trail (aka AT) gains 4,100 feet in just over five miles, scrambling over enormous boulder and traversing a high plateau; more than half of the route is above tree line, which means epic views on a clear day and major exposure on a stormy one. To make a loop, descend via the mile-long Knife Edge Trail, a notoriously dodgy saddle crossing to Pamola Peak, and end at Roaring Brook Campground.
Check out all 50 Places you have to #SeeForYourself.