The 5 Best Forests to Visit on the East Coast

The East Coast of the United States is home to a vast array of attractions. From iconic cities like New York and Boston, to the casinos in Atlantic City and the oceans on the sandy shores of Florida, there are always multiple options if you’re looking to travel to the East Coast. However, one attraction always seems to get overlooked: national parks.

The great outdoors. It’s a concept that some people don’t even know the definition of. While many folks can’t go 5 minutes without checking their email or Snap chatting their friends, forests and the outdoors are just begging to be visited. They’re almost a hidden gem in this day and age. If you plan on visiting the East Coast, and you’re an outdoorsy person, then there are 5 forests you must see while you’re there.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

When you think of the Southern wilderness, your first inclination may be to think of swamps and grassy marshlands. While this may be true for some of the wilderness in the South, Congaree National Park adds a bit of a twist to the swamp cliché. In fact, Congaree is famous for its old growth bottomland hardwood forest. Why is it famous? It’s the largest expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the U.S.

If the astonishing historical angle of the South Carolina park doesn’t convince you to visit Congaree, then a multitude of other activities may sway your opinion. For starters, the forest is a great place to lay down a camp site for the night. Along with camping, the park offers canoeing and kayaking. If you have kids, Congaree has a Junior Ranger Program. When you complete the workbook, you can take it to the visitor center and earn a badge!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Hands down, this is one of the most famous national parks in the entire United States. Statistically, the park draws about twice that of other national parks. And there’s a good reason why the park is so packed: the forest is one of the oldest in the world. Yes, the world! When you walk through the Smoky Mountains National Park (and especially its forest), you’re walking through history.

One of the park’s more popular spots is Cades Cove. It’s a beautiful valley that is an excellent place to view the natural wildlife of the Smoky Mountains. You can see everything from a black bear to coyotes and even turkeys. The park also houses some fantastic waterfalls, if you wish to partake.

Nearby Hipcamps: Little River Campground, Crawford’s Campground, Minie Ball (above)

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

One of the largest and longest mountain chains in the U.S., the Appalachian mountains span the entire way from the northeastern state of Maine to the hot and humid Georgia. While this forest isn’t necessarily in a park, the forest is more of a natural formation than in most parks. The Trail gives you the opportunity to embrace nature in a more natural manner.

While there may not be very many “normal” activities to do, the main trail does offer a vast array of alternative paths. Many trails branch off the main one, and can be completed in a single trip. For instance, you can climb a portion of the path known as “Anthony’s Nose”. It’s located in New York, and leads to a breathtaking view of the New York skyline.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

This is the one park that seems to sit in the corner and out of the spotlight. Located on the outskirts of Washington D.C, the Shenandoah forest is a great place to escape to. One of the major aspects of this forest that makes it interesting is the fact that it lies so close to a heavily trafficked city. If you need to get out of the D.C. area for some peace and quiet, then this is the perfect spot for you. What makes the park even more accessible is that it can be reached by driving along the popular Atlantic Coast route.

One of the more eccentric activities to do is a seasonal quilt show. From time to time, the park will show off quilts that are inspired by national parks from across the nation. The park also contains restaurants and lodging. Skyland and Big Meadows Lodge are two popular restaurants you may want to check out if you’re looking to dine in the middle of the park.

Nearby Hipcamps: Wild Yough Glamping Huts, South Fork River Camping, Wilderness Adventure Cabin (above)

Acadia National Park, Maine

Along with housing both the beginning of the Appalachian Scenic Trail and the beautiful falling leaves in autumn, Maine is also home to Acadia National Park. You may have heard of this park due to the fact that the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast is located here (Cadillac Mountain).

You can also kayak and even head to the main town of Bar Harbor and mingle with the locals if you want to learn more about the history of the park. A great destination for visitors is Otter’s Cliff. They offer camping spots and you’d be crazy not to pass up an opportunity to stay in one of the most exquisite national parks in America.

Nearby Hipcamps: Tir Na N Og Farm (above), Old Quarry Campground

The Smoky Mountains. The Appalachian Mountains. The Atlantic Coast Route. All reasons why the east coast is a great destination for forest-dwellers. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure on the east coast, you’re now set! Have fun exploring!

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective. Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. You can follow her on Instagram,Twitterand Pinterest.
Hipcamp Staff

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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