Trails Across the Country Lead to Places You Might Like

Some people traipse through lovely landscapes as others explore history from the days of Native Americans to the present. Avid birders use binoculars to spot colorful feathered friends in flight while canoers and kayakers dip paddles into the water. At the end of the day, many of these visitors to Panama City, Florida, belly up to an oyster bar to enjoy freshly shucked bivalves that have been prepared in a variety of ways.

These seemingly disparate activities and attractions have one thing in common: They’re all taking place along designated trails that focus upon a single thing to do, see or eat.

Countless trails around the country are available to people with a particular interest. From food to fashion, covered bridges to Kentucky bourbon, they offer something for everyone’s interests. No matter how esoteric the passion, a walking, driving, biking, paddling, or other, a trail somewhere focuses on it.

A covered bridge in New Hampshire. (Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock)

Consider Panama City, a community of about 37,000 residents perched along Florida’s northwestern coast. For a smallish municipality, that town provides a surprising choice of routes that both locals and visitors can explore.

The Oyster Trail alone has enough appeal to bring some travelers to town. A dozen restaurants, ranging from a 10-stool oyster bar to a casual grill to a fine dining establishment, serve the fresh-from-the-sea food raw, baked, fried, and prepared in other ways. Whether visiting Panama City for the bivalves or birds, hiking or history, you might find a trail with appeal.

Restaurants along a different oyster trail, which runs through Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, bring their own personal touch to their recipes. In addition to traditional preparations, some serve them barbecued, fire-roasted, Alfredo-style, and in ceviche.

An egret in Panama City, Fla. (Paul Winterman/Shutterstock)

It’s Louisiana’s rich gastronomic culture that is celebrated along the Cajun Bayou Food Trail. It’s comprised of restaurants that serve local favorites such as gumbo, jambalaya, and pecan pralines. Some family-run eateries follow recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Variety of a different kind greets visitors to the Fields of Gold Farm Trail in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Visitors can stroll through a farmers’ market, tour a working spread, enjoy a locally grown meal at a garden-to-table restaurant or pick their own fruit at an orchard.

A mix of summer fruits in Oregon. (Leslie Brienza/Shutterstock)

Fresh-picked apples, pears, grapes, and cherries are sold at more than two dozen stands located along the colorfully named Hood River County Fruit Loop in Oregon. The 35-mile trail passes forests, farmlands, and orchards. Vendors also offer flowers, pies, jam, and local artisan gifts.

Berries are used in different ways on a route that leads through Surry County, North Carolina. The colorfully named Surry Sonker Trail connects a bakery, general store, winery, and other places that serve the quaintly named dessert. It is believed that the sweet treat was created in the early 1800s by homemakers seeking to stretch the use of fruit or use it before it rotted. Recipes include fruit sweetened with sugar, molasses, and other ingredients blended into unshaped dough, so no two are exactly alike.

A marker on the Freedom Trail in Portland, Maine. (jejim/Shutterstock)

Where there’s food there often are beverages, and the birthplace of one is acclaimed along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Guests can visit one distillery that traces its ancestry back to the 18th century and another where they can have a tasting while standing in the largest bourbon barrel in the world.

A bourbon tasting at Old Forester in Louisville, Ky. (Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock)

Those who like the word “soft” before their drink might prefer to set their sights on the Coca-Cola Trail. Places related to the world-famous beverage are described in a book of the same name that can serve as a guide to museums, historic bottling plants, and other destinations around the country, beginning with Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the concoction was first bottled in 1894.

Not surprisingly, state tourism offices promote the trails concept as a way to attract visitors. For example, Maine has a driving tour that leads to 34 outdoor sculptures strung out along 273 miles of its coastline; a Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail, which includes canoe routes that the author followed during trips to that state in the mid-1800s; and a Freedom Trail in Portland, which leads to sites associated with the Underground Railroad and the antislavery movement of that time. Not to be outdone, trails that make their way through Ohio focus upon interests as diverse as shopping and steam trains, Italian food, and ice cream.

Dishes such as jambalaya can be enjoyed on the Cajun Bayou Food Trail in Louisiana. (Ezume Images/Shutterstock)

Given the love of nature by many residents of Oregon, it’s not surprising that among trails within its borders are paths for hiking, biking, and seeing wildlife and wildflowers, along with dozens of other routes. Most famous is the stretch of the Oregon Trail in the state, part of the historic wagon route that began in Missouri and which, in the early 19th century, an estimated 400,000 settlers, farmers, miners, ranchers, and others followed in their quest for a new life.

Other pages of history are turned during drives to see quilt blocks that adorn the sides of dozens of barns in Oregon’s Tualatin Valley. Some designs on those 8-foot-by-8-foot wooden slabs resemble traditional quilt patterns, while others display crops or animals or relate to the farm family’s history.

Epoch Times Photo
A trail through Oregon’s Tualatin Valley leads visitors to barns adorned with quilt blocks. (Courtesy of Victor Block)

From seafood to sweets, berries to beverages it’s likely that somewhere in the country there may be one or more driving, walking, or other trails focused upon an interest of yours.

When You Go

Panama City, Florida:

Gulf Shores, Alabama:

Cajun Bayou Food Trail:

Fields of Gold Farm Trail:

Hood River County Fruit Loop:

Surry Sonker Trail:

Kentucky Bourbon Trail:

Coca-Cola Trail:

Trails in Maine:

Trails in Ohio:

Oregon Trail:

Oregon’s Tualatin Valley:

Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Copyright 2021

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