The lure of West Virginia’s woodlands

Amid the hectic hassles of daily life – job pressures, commuter traffic, 24-hour news channels, endless politics, etc. – there’s a quiet escape: the pure simplicity of walking in the woods.

It’s free. It’s serene. It restoreth the soul. Especially in West Virginia, the opportunity is all around us in jumbled hills, shady ravines, winding ridges. All you need to do is pull on bluejeans and boots, strap on a pack, and head into the eternal forest.

No other state is better suited to woodland hiking. Hardwood forests cover 12 million of the state’s 15.4 million acres. West Virginia has 47 state parks and forests, plus two national forests and 93 public lakes, most with hiking trails and campsites. As coal-hauling declines, many abandoned spur railways are being converted into free public rail-trails. The state Trails Coalition has mapped a master network of around 150 public hiking “linear parks.”

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