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January 1, 2012

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No, not all of us are going to jump off a bridge, or even leap off a zip-line stand. And hiking 1,000 miles or running 20 miles of whitewater isn’t everyone’s cup of tea either. But between those fairly extreme undertakings and, well, a cup of tea is a mountain region full of some kind of outside adventures for just about all of us. C’mon along. . .

As the first sprigs of spring arrive in the atriums of Alabama and the gardens of Georgia, ambitious, hopeful  hikers are lacing up their boots to start north from Springer Mountain, Ga., toward Mount Katahdin in Maine – a 2,100-mile walk on the Appalachian Trail.

And what better year than 2012 to start scratching off your own long-overdue dreams and turning your Outdoor Bucket List into reality: From wild to mild, here is a primer of places to see and awesome activities to get you moving and grooving to the beat of the Blue Ridge.

1: Run A Zip Line

Nothing equals escape like hanging by your hands and casting yourself atop the world, strapped to a zip line, the wind whipping your face and your feet flapping at the end of weightless legs … Well, whew! You can now find several scattered across the mountains. Among them:

• Beanstalk Journey: a kid-friendly zip line connecting a labyrinth of tree houses at Morganton, N.C. 828-430-3440, thebeanstalkjourney.com

• Big Woods Zip Line and Canopy Tours: Zip through trees at Boonville, N.C. 336/409-3211,

bigwoodszipline.com

• Chattooga Ridge Canopy Tours: Soar above a lake in South Carolina’s upstate. 864-482-0164.

• Hawksnest: Ride in winter above snow-tubers at Seven Devils, N.C., and over creeks and through trees. 800-822-4295, hawksnestzipline.com

• Screaming Ziplines: Ride and scream at Zionville, N.C. 828-898-5404, screamingziplines.com

2: Climb a Sheer Rock Face

Overcome fear – and have fun – by clinging to a cliff. Here are some ideas:

• Cherokee Rock Village: Bluffs overlook Weiss Lake near Leesburg, Ala.; can be climbed or simply admired. 256-927-8455. cherokee-chamber.org

• Table Rock State Park: Climbing available by permit in fall months on the southeastern face of Table Rock Mountain, in Pickens, S.C. 864-878-9813

• Whiteside Mountain: Cliffs rise as much as 750 feet, in North Carolina’s Highlands District of the Nantahala National Forest. 828-652-2144.

3: Take a Serious Hike

Put all your troubles in your old backpack and hike, hike, hike! Here’s a sample:

• Allegheny Trail: Travel a 330-mile (mostly completed) corridor from Pearisburg, Va., to the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. wvscenictrails.org

• Appalachian Trail: Try tackling only the Virginia portion of the famous National Scenic Trail, and you will have covered about one-fourth of the entire route, going more than 550 miles from just below Damascus at Sullivan County, Tenn., to the West Virginia line, at Harpers Ferry. appalachiantrail.org

• Grandfather Mountain: Trails range from gentle walks to navigating rugged terrain by ladders and cables at this classic destination, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina’s High Country. grandfather.com

• Mountains to Sea Trail: About half of the 1,000 miles are built of this trail connecting Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. ncmst.org

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January 1, 2012

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