Utah no longer has a monopoly on canyoneering. Outfitter Pura Vida Adventures has imported the multisport art of descending a wet, rocky gorge by foot, rope, and swim stroke to the lush wilds of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A day in the gorge commences with a hike up Big Bradley Creek outside Saluda to the top of 75-foot Big Bradley Waterfall. Plan on getting nicely spritzed as you rappel alongside the cascade—instruction provided. From there you spend the next six hours “in full-on adventure mode,” says Pura Vida’s Joe Moerschbaecher: rock-hopping, bouldering, and swimming as you make your way down the gorge to the lower Green Rive ($150; pvadventures.com ).
The International Mountain Biking Association is pretty picky when it comes to designating a fat-tire hot spot as “epic,” but Ellicottville, an hour south of Buffalo, has earned its coveted IMBA stripes ( imba.com/epics ). The trail network outside town has bloomed to 40 miles of singletrack, so the options are many. “Some are fast and rolling, but there’s some real rocky stuff,” says Dennis Baldwin at Ellicottville Bike Shop, where you can rent a Kona hardtail ($25; ellicottvillebikeshop.com ). Baldwin suggests the Pale Ale trails, a playground worthy of three hours of riding, then a pale ale pit stop at the Ellicottville Brewing Company.
In New Hampshire’s remote upper right-hand corner, moose outnumber Democrats, so chances are good that you’ll see a big bull on a weekend safari with Outdoor Escapes New Hampshire. Guides Peter and Lucie Villeneuve employ any means necessary to get you a sighting—including paddling a canoe down the Magalloway River into the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. “We see them splashing in the water and feeding on shore, but sometimes we have to go bushwhacking,” says Lucie. They’re hard to miss, especially come September when the males sprout antlers seven feet across (three days, $350, including meals; outdoorescapesnh.com ).
Even densely packed New Jersey has flyover country—namely, the Pine Barrens, a serendipitous wilderness halfway between Philly and Atlantic City. Canoe the Barrens along the serpentine Mullica River below Atsion Lake, paddling in and out of pine groves and swampy meadows; bog iron from these parts went into American cannonballs in the Revolutionary War. If the river looks like root beer, no worries. That’s not pollution but natural coloring from the roots of cedar trees and the bog iron. Figure on a five-hour trip to a campsite in Wharton State Forest ($2; nj.gov), where irrepressible whip-poor-wills will sing you to sleep. Lay over or laze around, because it’s just a three-hour paddle to the takeout (two-day rental from Adams Canoe Rental in Shamong, $85, including shuttle; adamscanoerental.com ).