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Eight Great Biking, Hiking, and Paddling Trails
By Jim Gorman   Photograph by Mike Tittel
Photo: Paddling Puget Sound
POWER PORTAGE: Get your strokes in on the Cascadia Marine Trail before winter clouds your view.

Eight biking, hiking, and paddling trails near you. 

PACIFIC COAST
Float the Sound, Washington

October brings one last blue-sky hurrah before winter's gray curtain descends on Puget Sound's Cascadia Marine Trail. Novice paddlers can rent a touring single at PT Outdoors ($50 a day; www.ptoutdoors.com) in Port Townsend, paddle across placid Townsend Bay to Fort Flagler State Park, and settle in at the surprisingly luxe Non-commissioned Officers' Quarters ($90; 800 360 4240). Return to Port Townsend via a clockwise, 16-nautical-mile (26-kilometer)  tour of Marrowstone Island, stopping to camp for the night at Kinney Point ($10). For campsite information and charts, contact the Washington Water Trails Association (www.wwta.org).
 
Celebrate the Downers, California
Bike trails around Kernville, an adventure-friendly burg at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, demand quads of steel for the steady climbing. But the downhills are more than worth it. Take the 11-mile (17-kilometer) drop on the beginner-friendly Summit Loop, or the eight-vertical-mile (twelve kilometer) Plunge on the Cannell Trail. Go October 20 to 23 and join the revelry at the 15th annual Kernville Fat Tire Festival (www.mtnriver.com). Stay at the Mountain & River Adventures Campground ($30), where rides are staged and extracurriculars (bike toss, anyone?) fill the evenings. 
 
ROCKIES 
Double Your Race Time, Colorado

"Doin' the Double?" is the conversation starter in Durango this Columbus Day weekend when runners gather en masse for the two-day Durango Marathon (www.durangomarathon.com). The event starts Saturday with 25K and 50K trail races through the hills east of town. The air is thin (elevation 6,512 feet or 1,984 meters), but the footing is solid and the grade relatively gentle. Sunday brings the unexpectedly level San Juan Mountains Half Marathon and the Durango Full Marathon. Any combination of races over the weekend qualifies as a "double," a feat accomplished by only 39 of last year's 1,200 racers. Book a room at the Jarvis Suite Hotel ($109; www.durangohotel.com), mere steps from the post-race block party.
 
Paddle Like Lewis and Clark, Montana
The three-day paddle along central Montana's White Cliffs rates among the wildest and most scenic on the entire Missouri River. But don't take our word for it. "Here nature presents . . . vast ranges of walls of tolerable workmanship...to rival the human art of masonry," wrote Meriwether Lewis in May 1805. During a 47-mile (75-kilometer) canoe trip with Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures ($635; www.trailadventures.com), you'll see tepee rings left by the Blackfoot or Assiniboin tribes and a buffalo jump where American Indians drove startled herds over a cliff's edge. At night, feast on pork tenderloin and plum-rhubarb crisp, while swapping tales of exploits—both current and a century old—around the campfire.
 
MIDWEST
Roll Down the Tracks, Missouri

At 225 miles (362 kilometers), Missouri's KATY Trail is the longest
rail trail in the land. Its eastern half hugs the bank of the Missouri River, whizzing past wineries, Bavarian-themed towns, and imposing limestone cliffs. The western half veers off into rolling farm country, rich in cattle and soybeans. Sample both sections while biking the 84-mile (135-kilometer), weekend-length chunk from Sedalia to Jefferson City, with a stopover in Boonville. Call Creason's KATY Trail Shuttle Services (+1 573 694 2027) for a lift back to your car. Not up to DIY? On October 2, Timberline Adventures leads a six-day, all-inclusive tour of the entire trail ($1,495; www.timbertours.com).

Go Wild, Indiana

Deep forest in federal wilderness? Secluded campsites surrounded by a 10,750-acre (43-square-kilometers), wave-churned lake? Toto, I don't think we're in Indiana anymore. "For the Midwest, this is pretty rugged stuff," says Hoosier National Forest spokeswoman Teena Ligman. Hike 19 miles (30 kilometers) through the Technicolor Charles C. Deam Wilderness (the state's only official wilderness) from the Blackwell Campground off State Route 446. After seven miles on the Grubb Ridge Trail, look for the turnoff to Hoosier National Forest's lakeside Peninsula Trail Campsite (free; +1 812 275 5987). The hilly, 11-mile (17-kilometer) Cope Hollow Trail completes the loop. 
 
EAST
Tackle Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Killers are on the loose in northeast Pennsylvania, and the citizenry
is... delighted. This month, at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, squadrons of migrating raptors of every variety—kestrels, peregrine falcons, and a bald eagle or two—pass in review. Base camp at Mary's Guest House ($60; www.marysjimthorpe.com) in nearby Jim Thorpe, a Victorian coal mining town–cum–mountain biking mecca. Before leaving, test-drive the technical Mauch Chunk Ridge Trail. Blue Mountain Sports on State Route 209 rents bikes ($27 a day; www.bikejimthorpe.com).
 
Preview A Classic, North Carolina
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is both a work of art and a work in progress. When completed it will stretch nearly a thousand miles from the Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. In the meantime, half of the trail is open for business, including the stunning 23-mile (37-kilometer) section through the Linville Gorge to Table Rock. From Woodlawn Park on Highway 221, follow the white blazes eastward. You'll ascend 37 switchbacks to the summit of 4,840-foot (1,475-meter) Bald Knob then drop precipitously into the 1,400-foot-deep gorge. A car shuttle is required, as is the guide Hiking North Carolina's Mountains-to-Sea Trail (UNC Press, $19).


Pick up the October 2005 issue for great adventure travel ideas, news, and articles by award-winning writers.


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