10 of the best backcountry adventures in the Deep South

Southern folklore claims that the old-growth forests of the New World were so dense that a squirrel could travel from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River without ever touching the ground. Today, pockets of this wilderness still remain, waiting to be explored by travelers who paddle, pedal and travel their way through a land of legends. From the beaches to the bayous, these are the best ways to venture into the Deep South.

1. Coldwater Mountain ATV, Anniston, Alabama

At Coldwater Mountain, adrenaline junkies can hike over 20 miles of dirt trails. A pair of gravity trails and single track routes like Bomb Dog, Goldilocks, and Oval Office highlight this hidden Alabama gem. Nearby, Wig’s Wheels rents bikes and provides transport to the trails for $ 45 (£ 32) per day.wigswheels.com

2. Canoe Camp in Okefenokee Marsh, Folkston, Georgia

Isolated campsites hide under the canopies of Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. This fascinating wilderness is an animal paradise of sandhill cranes, alligators and black bears. Motorboats are banned from the wilderness at night, leaving the evening soundtrack to Mother Nature. Overnight trips require a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which offers group canoe trips starting at $ 15 (£ 10) per person per night. Reservations can only be made by calling 00 1 912 496 6331. fws.gov/ refuge / okefenokee

3. Diving on an aircraft carrier, Gulf Shores, Alabama

Fly over the helm of a Cold War aircraft carrier near Gulf Shores, Alabama. In the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the 888ft USS Oriskany waits. This wonder of 20eThe engineering of the last century is now the largest man-made artificial reef in the world. Divers must hold an advanced open water diver certification and have at least 20 dives under their belt to undertake the trip. Expect to pay around $ 220 (£ 160). facebook.com/downunderdiveshop

4. Cycle the Tanglefoot Trail, New Albany, Mississippi

This 44-mile rail-to-trail route winds beneath gum trees, through the stomping grounds of pioneer musicians like Bukka White, Sam Mosley and Bob Johnson while tracing in the footsteps of explorer Meriwether Lewis and author William Faulkner. Self-guided tour is reserved for bike rental in Tupelo and overnight at Trailhead Bike and Bed in the city of Houston. The Union County Library offers free bicycle rentals in New Albany. union.lib.ms.us

5. Carolina Coast Cruise, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Glide through the marshes of the Lowcountry on top of a jet ski. Just minutes from downtown Charleston, SC, this epic aquatic adventure puts travelers in control of their own personal watercraft for encounters with wildlife like herons, dolphins, and even sharks. Private trips are available for groups of three or more, starting at $ 150 (£ 108). unchartedsociety.com

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