Roads Rivers and Trails

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10 Trips I Wouldn’t Have Experienced Without the Scouts

As you could probably imagine we see our fair share of scouts preparing for trips at RRT. Currently with 4 Eagle Scouts on staff we’d like to think we are pretty good at it too. So with all of that scouting experience we were curious what stood out to them as their most epic trips and unforgettable moments. Here is Will and Joe’s top 5 trips that they would not have experienced without being a Boy Scout.

  1. Philmont (NM) 

I had the privilege of hitting the High Adventure Triple Crown, and Philmont was, for me, the crown jewel. Two weeks of backpacking in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains was the foundation of my thirst for adventure. The beauty of these mountains and the chance to experience rock climbing, shooting, and adventure are unparalleled. This trip challenged me more than any other trip I took, but it was also the most rewarding and provided the greatest opportunities for growth. Years later I can still vividly remember looking out from the windy summit of Mt. Baldy and scrambling up the rocky slope of the Tooth of Time. Philmont was the pinnacle of my time in Scouts and is not an opportunity to be missed.

  1. Northern Tier/ Boundary Waters (MN) 

While lacking in jaw dropping mountain vistas, the boundary waters of northern Minnesota hold a pure, serene beauty in the peaceful waters that can’t be found elsewhere. A canoeing expedition through this beautiful wilderness is as good as it gets. There is something to be said about watching moose, beavers, and otters amidst the bounty of lakes or falling asleep to the eerie wail of a loon. Our crew quickly developed paddling skills, learned navigation across lakes, and figured out the most efficient ways to portage between waterways. Not even the relentless mosquitoes could prevent us from thoroughly enjoying this remote piece of wilderness in the far north. If you’re looking for a quiet adventure away from any crowds, this is the trip for you.

  1. Sea Base (FL)

Not even a night in the emergency room after heat stroke could prevent me from enjoying this high adventure trip. Sea Base is more of a vacation than a high adventure trip, but the opportunities on this trip are diverse. Fill your days at the base with stand-up paddle boarding over sharks and rays, kayaking amongst mangroves, fishing, sailing, or snorkeling day and night in the colorful reefs of the Keys. I enjoyed the opportunity to explore Key West on my trip, as well. This is one of the few trips that gives scouts a chance to explore the ocean rather than the forests. If you’re a proficient swimmer then you can enjoy Sea Base to the full extent with daily activities out on the water. This trip is perfect for a younger crew of adventurers that are still a few years away from being able to take on the rigors of Philmont.

  1. Big South Fork (KY)

This little-known gem has opportunities for short backpacking trips as well as canoeing. I enjoyed this weekend getaway as a shakedown trip before heading out to Philmont. You would be surprised by the abundance of incredible rock formations and backcountry trails just a few hours away from Cincinnati. It is easy to be creative when planning a trip to Big South Fork with plenty of trails and loops to choose from, making it the ideal spot for a beginner’s backpack trip. You would be surprised at the beauty and quiet trails that can be found outside of the bigger mountains to the East. Our scout troop enjoyed a weekend of backpacking from one overlook to another at the State Park, but we also found the potential for a multi-day canoe trip up a small creek in the area.

  1. Mammoth Cave (KY)

The world’s largest cave is an intriguing place. It is impossible to comprehend the magnitude of the cave or to explore all its expansive rooms, but it is certainly exciting to try. If you’ve never been, the wonders inside the cave will surprise and enthrall you. Crystals, stalagmites, and water abound in this underground treasure that contains enough excitement to keep you entertained for as long as you’d like. Just a few hours away, this is an excellent weekend destination any time of year for groups small and large. Check a national park off your bucket list and see what the park has to offer in above ground activities, as well. The guided cave tours are enjoyable for all and there is something for everyone at Mammoth Cave, from more demanding trips to short, easy tours through the larger portions of the cave.

  1. Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve (WV)

Located near the New River in West Virginia, Summit is a fantastic place for any scout, whether they just joined the program or have been part of it for a while. This is because they are not only a high adventure base, but also a scout camp for scouts to work on merit badges and rank advancement. Summit also offers several different high adventure activities so every scout can have the time of their life, no matter what their interests may be. The way they run the high adventure side is you pick what you want to do before you show up. When I went, I chose to do their white-water kayaking adventure. I spent every day with Adventures on the Gorge and a guide learning the ins and outs of white water kayaking, like how to get through different rapids and learning how to roll. I went to Summit when it first opened for the National Jamboree in 2013, as well. Even then, summit did not disappoint. Forty-thousand other scouts and I had a great time doing tons of different activities and trying out the brand new scout center. They also have zip lines for scouts to try out, a canopy zip line tour as well as their Big Zip. There is a reason it’s called the big zip! There is even a skate park there. Summit Bechtel is a great place and no scout would regret going here!

  1. The Great Salt Peter Caves (KY)

This is a great place for any Troop to have a weekend camp-out exploring caves. When I went with Troop 888 it was one of my first camp-outs as a little tenderfoot scout. Like most camp-outs we arrived on Friday, and then Saturday met up with a guide from the grotto and explored several different caves while learning about them as well. While in the caves we got to experience complete darkness when we all turned our headlamps off as well as millions of cave spiders. This is a great place for any scout since exploring caves means getting dirty and exploring an area that is not very often trafficked by others. Then the festivities don’t end in the evening because you can rinse off all that mud by taking a bath and swimming in a nearby river! You also have the opportunity to take a tour of a nearby mining cave and see their wall of signatures, which is even signed by Daniel Boone (assuming the signature is actually his own 😉)! To reiterate, a fantastic weekend for any scout troop!

  1. Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH)

This was definitely one of the weekend camp-outs that I really enjoyed going to and seemed to have a lasting impression on me. The premise of this camp-out is during the day on Saturday you go to the Air Force Museum at the base which has 5 full hangars of mostly military airplanes, from the very first planes all the way to today’s aircraft. They even have some presidential airplanes, like FDR’s. Then after that, you could go to the Wright Museum which teaches everyone all about the Wright brothers and their flight. There is even a simulation where you can try to fly the first airplane. In the evening, our troop would go bowling at the bowling alley on the base, which was always a lot of fun. Now all of the activities are very exciting, but one of the best parts of this camp-out by far is your camping location. It takes some planning ahead of time due to background checks and things, but my troop would camp on the air force base, almost right next to the airstrip! You could see air force planes and even watch AC130s take off right next to your campsite! The location isn’t bad either; lots of space for the troop to spread out and room for the scout to run around. One of my all-time favorite scout trips, even though it isn’t completely outdoors.

  1. Smoky Mountains (TN)

This was one of my training trips for Philmont and we also used it as more of a cold weather backpacking trip. What was great about this trip was we got to try one of the shelters on the Appalachian Trail (AT). We even got some bear bag practice, although I lost a nice carabiner due to it ☹. The first night we stayed in a campground close to the information center and then left the tents in the cars and started hiking. Since it was the Smokies, we got some hill training when heading up towards the AT, which was great preparation for Mt. Baldy at Philmont. Hiking on the AT fascinated me because I was hiking on such a beloved trail and that really sealed the deal for my love of backpacking. Since it was cold, we also got to experience it and learn how to pack for it. Then we even learned how to set bear bags and could see them hung properly. Again, great for any scout to learn as well as see before going to Philmont. Then to really seal this great trip, on our way out we saw a bear, a safe distance away of course, but seeing it is an exciting experience for any scout!

  1. John Bryan State Park (OH)

I went to John Bryan with my troop on a mountain biking camp-out and it was really a great experience. The trails there are great for any scout who wants to try mountain biking and are still very thrilling. The trails are great fun and have all sorts of different stuff to try. There are bridges, ramps, and hills, and the trails were great for me to get speed and take turns even though I had never tried mountain biking before. There is also a little bike park right near the trails so scouts can try different ramps and tricks before trying them on the trail, which is helpful. The campsites aren’t bad either and there are more than enough trees for scouts to try hammocking too! All around a fun weekend for any scout.