Adventurously speaking, the mid-Atlantic has a lot going for it. Want to explore deserted coastline? Drive east. Looking to relax in a mountain hot spring? Head west. Within a few hours of pretty much everywhere in the region, you can be somewhere totally different. The best part: there have never been more new and unique ways to explore the Mid-Atlantic. In celebration of this modern adventurous spirit, we’ve partnered with Land Rover Defender to highlight the newest and coolest adventures in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. These are the New Rules of Adventure.
Rule #1: You Can Now Hike Through Mountains
What was once an abandoned railway tunnel is now one of Virginia’s newest—and perhaps coolest—hikes. In late 2020 the Crozet Tunnel Greenway opened to the public, a path for hikers and cyclists (and bat lovers) through a nearly mile-long, 170-year-old brick tunnel deep beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the epitome of scenic drives, so be sure to leave yourself time to enjoy the mountain roads and all their turnoffs. The two-mile out-and-back Humpback Rocks trail just off the parkway makes for an epic sunrise mission. Following an afternoon hike, designate a driver and hit the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, which connects over a dozen local breweries.
Rule #2: Canal Towpaths Make Great Bike Paths
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal runs 236 miles from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, parallel to the Potomac River. The path winds through quite a few towns, making it easy to hop on and off the trail for day rides and hikes. But for a family-friendly—and COVID-safe—modern bikepacking or backpacking trip, plan ahead and book consecutive nights at some of the C&O Canal Trust’s Canal Quarters. These former lockhouses, once home to the families who opened the canal’s locks to let boats pass, have been renovated recently into vacation rentals. There are seven available for overnight stays between miles 5 and 108 of the trail.
Rule #3: Cabooses are the New Cabins
Some scenic railroads will let backpackers hop off mid-trip for better access to the mountains. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad goes one step further: it’ll leave you the whole caboose when it drops your crew in a remote area by the Greenbrier River, “several miles from the nearest encroachment of the modern world,” with no cell service to bother your off-grid vacation. The scenic-train company has renovated two cabooses into mini apartments complete with space for six, a full bathroom with shower, and a range for cooking. Castaway Caboose booking for this year opens up in February.