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Michaella Sheridan | 08.07.2018

From the sandy shores of New Hampshire to the swampy bayous of eastern Louisiana, there's so much to explore east of the Mississippi River. State parks not only protect a lot of these amazing historic and natural places, but they also open them up for exploration. Whether its the tallest waterfall on the East Coast, warm freshwater springs, wildlife havens, or historic castles, these East Coast state parks have special surprises and unique features that will totally blow your mind. 

Croft State Park | Piedmont, South Carolina

There's something for everyone at this former Army Base. Discover two amazing fishing lakes, horse stables and horse-friendly trails, 12 miles of prime mountain biking and hiking trails, awesome wildlife viewing, and so much more! 

Vogel State Park | Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia

Arguably the most beautiful state park in all of Georgia, you'll discover a cascading waterfall tucked away in a wooded cove on a small lake. As if that didn't make for the perfect scene, there are towering mountains all around. Explore several easy trails within the park or venture on a 13-mile trek through the Chattahoochee Wilderness and Blood Mountain Wilderness. 

Pocahontas State Park | Central Southern Virginia

With over 25 miles of trails that are perfect for mountain biking, two-wheeled wanderers don't want to miss this state park. A short drive from Richmond and featuring swimming pools and campgrounds, the largest state park in Virginia definitely won't disappoint. 

Torreya State Park | Northwest Gulf Coast, Florida

Backpacking through the 16 miles of trails within this unique forest is an East Coast must-do. The topography features steep bluffs and deep ravines that make for interesting pathways with changing altitudes, a rare thing in Florida's relatively flat terrain. Discover rare plants, towering pines, and dozens of varieties of woodpeckers. 

Quechee State Park | Northern Green Mountains, Vermont

Peer into the deepest gorge in Vermont at this unmissable state park. As you hike the 1-mile Quechee Gorge Trail, admire the 165-foot crevasse that was carved by glacial melt over 13,000 years ago. 

Umbagog Lake State Park | Lakes Region, New Hampshire

Wildlife watchers will be amazed at the viewing opportunities this remote park offers. Paddle around the lake with a pair of binoculars for the chance to spot moose, bald eagles, foxes and more! 

Hanging Rock State Park | Northern Piedmont, North Carolina 

Explore the sheer quartz ridges of this 7,000-acre state park that towers over the surrounding foothills. Peer over the famed hanging rock and make sure to set aside some time for bouldering, discovering waterfalls, and chilling out at Hanging Rock Beach. 

Manatee Springs State Park | North Central Gulf Coast, Florida 

Named after the winter visitors that bask in the warmth of this state park's 72-degree basin, Manatee Springs offers amazing wildlife watching, boating, scuba diving, hiking, camping, and more. 

Fontainebleau State Park | Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

Only an hour from New Orleans, a visit to Fontainebleau caps off the bayou experience. Covering 2,800 acres on the north shore of Lake Pontchartain, you'll find miles of hiking and biking trails, amazing wildlife viewing opportunities at Alligator Marsh, and family-friendly camping at the Fontainebleau Campground

Hammocks Beach State Park | Southern Coast, North Carolina

Encompassing two large barrier islands that are accessible by ferry or waterways, this state park is a paddlers dream. Discover primitive camping, secluded beaches, and miles of hiking trails on Bear Island and Huggins Island. 

Fenwick Island State Park | Sussex, Deleware

In the land of development and over-crowded beaches, Fenwick Island is an amazing respite. Beloved for its natural feel, explore the windswept dunes, tall grasses, and designated surfing area of this state park. 

Burton Island State Park | Lake Champlain Area, Vermont

Leave your car on the mainland and hop on the ferry to Burton Island for a laid back (and car-free) vacation. Book a lean-to, cabin, or primitive site and enjoy a weekend exploring this unique island in the middle of Lake Champlain. 

Devils Fork State Park | Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, South Carolina 

Devils Fork State Park has the only public access point to the 7,500-acre Lake Jocassee, so bring a boat to this state park and enjoy exploring the hidden coves and waterfalls that dot the shoreline. The clear, spring-fed waters make for amazing trout fishing and scuba diving. 

Jockey's Ridge State Park | Outer Banks, North Carolina 

Home to the tallest sand dune system on the East Coast, Jockey's Ridge is the best place in the Outer Banks to catch a sunset. Enjoy the other-worldly landscape as you explore the ever-changing dunes. 

Troy Spring State Park | Northwest Gulf Coast, Florida

The stunning blue waters of a freshwater spring welcome visitors to cool off at this state park. The deep spring is home to many plants, animals, and even a sunken Civil War ship, making this a great spot for scuba divers and snorkelers. 

First Landing State Park | Virginia Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

With 20 miles of trails and a mile of quiet, sandy beach along the Chesapeake Bay, it's no wonder this is Virginia's most-visited state park. Spend a whole day exploring the varied terrain, keeping in mind that this was the first place English colonists made landfall in 1607. 

Gillette Castle State Park | Eastern Connecticut, Connecticut

This small but intriguing state park features a medieval-style castle that's surrounded by meticulous walkways, covered bridges, and tunnels. Built by a famous American actor in 1919, the grounds were originally designed to entertain guests, but they now entertain and astound state park visitors. 

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park | Northern Pines, Alabama

It doesn't take a history buff to appreciate the amazing historical significance of this former ironworks site. An important stop on the Civil War Discovery Trail, this state park is home to the South's best-preserved stone blast furnace, the Alabama Iron and Steel Museum, and several miles of hiking trails that were once traversed daily by iron workers and ore miners. 

Amicalola Falls State Park + Lodge | Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia

At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest perennial waterfall east of the Mississippi. As if that weren't enough, this state park is also home to waterfall-centric hiking trails (including a killer stair climb), plenty of camping, Georgia's only backcountry lodge, and a premier venue, The Lodge, which offers many types of rooms, event hosting, and a full restaurant. 

Fall Creek Falls State Park | Tennessee Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee

While Amicalola takes the cake for tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, Fall Creek Falls is the highest single vertical drop on the East Coast. But with five other waterfalls, miles of hiking, and plenty of camping opportunities, that's just one part of this 26,000-acre state park. 

Seven Islands State Birding Park | Upper East Valley and Ridge, Tennessee

If you've spent time in the crowded Smoky Mountains, you'll be amazed by the secluded nature of this 400-acre state park. It is home to 190 different species of birds, so bring your binoculars on your hike, trail run, or paddle on the French Broad River. 


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