Favourite Journeys, Social Distancing Hikes – Way of life – Aurora Advertiser – Aurora, MO

We still spend a lot of time at home, but by following CDC guidelines I was able to safely get away from all of this for a while.

Here are some of my favorite pastimes while practicing social distancing in some of our beautiful country’s states.

West Virginia
Let’s start with the newest National Park and National Preserve in the US, the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It has been a National River property since 1978, and now the 6,000 acres of land are part of the National Park Service.

The park is known for its rafting and high bridge, but during this time it is one of my favorite places to just take a drive or a walk / hike. Even in winter without the lush green leaves, it offers beautiful landscapes and back roads, especially after a fresh snow.
The 83-mile drive (roughly a three-hour drive) includes split freeways, freeways, and two-lane roads that offer scenic views and opportunities to experience the park. With ruins, abandoned streets, coal mining, and historical remains of the many cities that once stood on the river, this is an interesting day.
Visit nps.gov or newrivergorgecvb.com.

Florida
I love this place for a wilderness walk. Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLand, Florida is a hidden gem. A wonderful place for bird lovers as it is a migratory bird sanctuary. As you walk along, an otter may cross your path or watch a turtle sleep next to a giant alligator on the banks of the wetlands. The 6.5 mile swamp loop is used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching. I’ve never done the full loop before, but I’ve always seen lots of wildlife on a short walk. You have 3,400 acres of wild Florida to get away from.
Visit fws.gov/lakewoodruff.

Arizona
One of my favorite drives and stops in the west is the Hualapai Mountain Resort outside of Kingman, Arizona. It is a place where you can get up close and personal with the moose and deer of the mountain who roam freely in the holiday area. The drive up the mountain is beautiful and scenic. Once you get to the resort, find off-road and hiking trails. There are cabins to rent and I find that a drive up the hill and a meal at the restaurant after watching the moose for a great day escape.
Visit hmresort.org for hours and directions.

Kentucky
Kentucky may be known for its bluegrass and bourbon, but I find it to be one of the most scenic and peaceful parts of our country. During leisurely rides through the landscape, the green pastures are littered with thoroughbred horses behind the fences that are so iconic for the state.
One of my favorite places is the Old Frankfort Pike. The drive from Frankfurt to Lexington takes you through four National Historic Areas on a 16.9 mile scenic back road. I prefer to turn onto the country roads – no GPS, no map – and enjoy the peaceful view. Someday I’ll end up somewhere!
Visit runthebluegrass.org for more information on the pike.

When planning a trip, visit websites for updated COVID-19 closings, restrictions, regulations, and updated hours of operation if applicable.

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