Washington, D.C.

TIRED OF SWEATING OUT the armpits of every shirt you own? Life around the capital can get sticky. Here's your new national policy initiative: Get out of town for a blast of freewheeling enterprise.

Sep 1, 2002
Outside Magazine
The New, New Thing

EVER HEARD OF powered parachuting? After strapping into a 270-pound steel cage that resembles a go-cart, you'll rev up the tiny 52-horsepower engine and bobble down the runway for a 45-minute soar 500 feet above the Chesapeake Bay. Attached to the craft is a 40-foot chute, which gently carries you aloft as you gain speed. Bay Adventures Airsports in White Stone, Virginia, 147 miles from D.C., will furnish all equipment and coaching ($75; 804-435-6660).

Beltway begone: Hiking in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Virgina.

POINT YOUR CAR WEST on I-66, then south on I-81 three hours to Marion, Virginia, for a final 20-mile stint south on Virginia 16 to the Fox Hill Inn (doubles, $80-$90, including breakfast; 800-874-3313, www.bbonline.com/va/foxhill). Ask for room six, where, tucked into a four-poster bed, you'll wake to a sunrise view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Polish off a plate of pecan-and-blue-berry whole-wheat pancakes, then drive 15 miles on Virginia 16 south and U.S. 58 west to Grayson Highlands State Park and the trailhead for Mount Rogers in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (entrance fee, $3; 276-783-5196, www.southernregion.fs.fed.us). Summit, descend, then saddle up with guides from Hopes and Dreams Unlimited ($60; 800-899-6554) for a 12-mile, three-hour horseback ride along the 67-mile Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. Later, continue west from Grayson Highlands 25 miles on U.S. 58 to Damascus, where you'll meet up with Tom Horsch of Adventure Damascus, a mountain-biking fiend who will haul you and your bike 21 miles to White Top Station ($10; 888-595-2453, www.adventuredamascus.com). From there it's a 17-mile, 1,600-vertical-foot plunge down an old railroad corridor back to town. Top off the day at the decadent River House Inn and Restaurant (336-982-2109, www.riverhouseinn.com) in Grassy Creek, just over the state line in North Carolina, 41 miles east of Damascus on U.S. 58, before crashing back at the Fox Hill Inn.
On Sunday, rendezvous with fly-fishing guru Bruce Wankel, who runs Trestle & Tailrace Fly Fishing in Abingdon, 30 miles west of the Fox Hill Inn on I-81, for private instruction on a nearby mountain trout stream ($200 per eight-hour day; 276-628-3826; vcflyshop.naxs.com/gservies.htm). In the afternoon, take a leisurely five-mile paddle down the Class I-II New River. The folks at New River Campground Canoeing and Kayaking, five miles south of Independence, Virginia, and 75 miles east of Abingdon, will rent you a boat and shuttle you to the put-in ($28-$38; 276-773-3412, www.canoeingthenew.com). Après-paddle, return to I-81 and drive north 90 miles to Roanoke, then east toward Lynchburg, home of High Peak Hang Gliding ($94; 804-401-3434, www.davismick.com/highpeak). Learn the basics, then soar across the sky and soak up the hazy Blue Ridge Mountain views. Exhale and head for home.

BEACH-BOUND ON U.S. 50/I-301, you'll see signs near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for the Harris Crab House (410-827-9500, www.harriscrabhouse.com), the preeminent local eatery for gorging on Maryland's state crustacean, the blue crab. Stop in and order at least a dozen.

A 10,000-FOOT, 45-second tandem free fall and subsequent six-minute paraglide over Maryland's Assawoman Bay is sure to get the blood flowing. For $200, the Skydiving Center in Ocean City, Maryland, preps you with essential first-jump training, then tosses you out of a plane two miles above the Atlantic (410-213-1319, www.skydiveoc.com).

THE SPA AT the Hotel Hershey: A two-hour drive from D.C., east of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on U.S. 422, this 17,000-square-foot Hershey, Pennsylvania, spa can de-frazzle your body and soul with some downright bizarre cocoa-themed treatments. A la carte pampering: 60-minute chocolate fondue wrap ($114), cocoa latte frothing exfoliation ($66), or chocolate mud hydrotherapy ($66). (Doubles, $289-$319; 877-772-9988, www.spaathotelhershey.com.)