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Head Outdoors in the Carolinas

From the mountains to the sea, North Carolina and South Carolina offer an abundance of outdoor activity options. The Blue Ridge Mountains stretch through parts of North Carolina, with miles of hiking trails and scenic vistas. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s many lakes make it a great destination for watersports and boating enthusiasts. And with nearly 500 miles of coastline, the beaches and shores of the Carolinas attract tourists year-round.

Options abound, from gentle hikes to more strenuous activities, such as zip lining, whitewater rafting and horseback riding.

For groups that are traveling specifically for a taste of the mountain or sea air, or want a break from touring the area’s cities or have tired of lounging on the beach, we’ve put together a list of outdoor adventures guaranteed to provide thrills, fun, and plenty of memories.

French Broad Adventures

Asheville, North Carolina

Just 25 minutes from downtown Asheville, groups can enjoy the great outdoors, taking in the scenery of both the French Broad River and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

French Broad Adventures offers the choice between calm water or whitewater, depending on whether visitors prefer an adrenaline-fueled experience or something a little more sedate.

Whitewater rafters can take a five- to six-hour trip covering nine miles or a three- to four-hour trip over five miles. All trips are led by experienced guides. Hot lunch is served in a pavilion beside the river and is included in the price of the longer excursion. The shorter trip includes a snack, but lunch can be arranged upon request. Meanwhile, those who prefer a more peaceful tour can enjoy two to three hours on four miles of calmer waters, with or without a guide.

Highly recommended for a complete day of fun are the packages, which allow visitors to combine a morning of rafting with lunch and the zip-line experience in the afternoon. Ten lines take guests through the top of the forest canopy. A 100-foot bridge walkway leads to a rather unusual treehouse, the perfect spot to stop for a breather and refreshments.

Lisa Sluder, who takes care of reservations for French Broad Adventures, said, “Everyone loves our guides. They are all so experienced and very knowledgeable of the area’s history.”

Black Horse Run

Greenville, South Carolina

Black Horse Run is located on 45 acres of pasture and wooded land some 25 miles east of Greenville. With 34 horses, owner Jerry Cooper can cater to riders of all ages and levels, from absolute beginners to more experienced trail riders. “Our riders love the personal attention,” he said. “We love people, we love horses and we love to bring the two together.”

For novice riders, Cooper recommends the one-hour trail ride. This is a good introduction and allows people to get used to being on a horse while enjoying the scenic property. Two-hour rides are also available. For the more adventurous visitor, daylong rides can be scheduled, and overnight camps are available with notice.

Black Horse Run also welcomes birthday parties and special events. Cooper said the stables can accommodate riders of all ages. The only limit is weight; none of the horses can carry over 275 pounds.

Although the property has 34 horses, groups are typically limited to no more than 12 people at a time. This is due to the availability of trail guides and for the ease of management on the trails. An advance reservation is a good idea. Usually, only a day or two notice is required, although Cooper warns that during the summer season, a little more notice is suggested. School vacations attract many children, and Saturdays are particularly busy. Riders should dress comfortably, with long pants and closed-toe shoes.