Tips for Winter Hiking

Many people limit their outdoor activities in the winter to the likes of ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. But, as far as hiking is concerned, a lot of people are content to pack up the boots and retire the backpacks until the snow melts. However, there is still plenty of appeal to winter hiking. For one, crowds are much more sparse, making it much easier to appreciate the environment around you and feel like you’ve truly “gotten away.” And two, there’s something magical and serene about hiking on a trail after a fresh snowfall. As long as you know how to go about being safe in the colder climate, hiking in the winter can be arguably just as enjoyable as any other season.

Looking out for your safety and the safety of those with you is always a number one priority when it comes to hiking, and even moreso in the winter time. And one of the primary ways to do that is by having proper equipment. Adapting to winter conditions while hiking requires a whole new repertoire. For one, dressing appropriately is more important than ever. Layers are key, and many advise the following: a base layer to wick moisture off your body and prevent evaporative cooling, thus keeping you dry, fleece for insulation and preservation of body heat, and an outer shell that shields you from elements such as wind, rain and (since you’ll be hiking in the winter) likely snow. Remember, this isn’t a stroll down the sidewalk. A simple winter coat may not be enough during the prolonged exposure. It may be meant as a fun excursion, but the need for protecting yourself from the elements during a winter hike is still very real. It is also recommended you familiarize yourself with crampons and how to put them on, along with the more critical supplies such as a First Aid kit, compass, trail map, hiking poles, a multitool or pocket knife, and sources of both heat and light. Emergency equipment such as heavy sleeping bags or bivy sacks are certainly not the worst idea either, should you be forced to spend an unexpected night outside. Account also for some source of hydration. Becoming dehydrated even in the cold is a surprisingly common concern. Recommend packing a thermos or portable stove to heat water.

If you are starting out in the world of winter hiking, be reasonable with your limits. Even experienced summer hikers may find winter hiking to be a whole other animal. Trudging through a snow-laden path that is several miles long is not the same as walking that same path on a clear, summer morning, so be encouraged to plan for a shorter trip to acclimate yourself. It is also important to account for the shorter period of sunlight, so starting early in the morning is advisable as well. And as always, traveling in a group is much safer than traveling alone, especially if the worst should happen while you’re out. A lack of crowds does make winter hiking more appealing, but being completely alone can still be very dangerous. Even better if someone you are with is an experienced winter hiker in their own right.

Last but certainly not least, be prepared. Not just physically with your supplies and gear. Be prepared for what is to come. Check weather conditions before setting out, gain insight on the trail itself if you are able. Because of the drastic change in weather conditions between summer and winter, there are many more factors to account for. Beyond it just being colder, the threat of avalanches and whiteout conditions are real possibilities. Fortune also does not necessarily favor the bold. If conditions worsen while you are out, do not hesitate to turn around and head back to the trail head as soon as you can. The mountain and the trails will still be there even after inclement weather. There is no need to take such risks.

When Is The Best Time Of The Year To Go Hiking?

Most people assume that hiking is best done in spring and ends with the start of summer. However, it’s the best time to hike would be during fall and early winter, especially if you’re hiking in the national parks. During this time, the hiking trails are less crowded than summer allowing you to take many photos of the scenery. Here are a few reasons why hiking in fall or winter is definitely a good idea.

• Less Crowds
During this time, you should find less people in the hiking trails so you can always do it at your own pace. You don’t have to step on anyone’s toes and hire a criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights while you’re hiking. Additionally, you can always do it at your own pace without worrying about if you’re being left behind or the group behind you doesn’t give you enough peace to hike comfortably.

• The Fall Foliage
Fall is always characterized by the best foliage. It’s the best time to walk through the forest and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Fall foliage always produces the most beautiful display of color and it’s something you shouldn’t miss. There’s the radiant red, golden yellow and much more mosaic features that are always short-lived. Therefore, take a hike during this time and enjoy the beauty of what nature has to offer.

• Comfortable Temperature
During summer, your clothes will remain sticky and moist because of the intense and hot sun as well as the heavy humid air. Well, in the fall season, the temperature is cooler and drier making it easy and comfortable to go backpacking. There’s the brisk wind which keeps the air circulating normally allowing you to stay cool and your body builds up heat from the hiking.

During fall, there are shorter day which means the nights are colder, making them comfortable for sleeping. The chilly mornings will warm up gradually to a sunny and bright afternoon and layering comes in handy. The cooler air keeps your water cooler making it more refreshing than sipping on a hot can of water.

Less Bugs
Are you tired of getting bitten or eaten out by bugs when you’re hiking? Well, during fall, you can always leave your bug spray when you go hiking because there are fewer bugs out there. Note that, they don’t disappear completely then reappear again in the spring. However, since they are triggered by the short days, the insects will move to a warmer spot and they will find a good hiding spot anywhere. They can stay protected from the wind and hide from squirrels and birds.

• More Wildlife
There are few people on the trail meaning you will encounter more wildlife on the trail. Since the days are shorter, animals will often get busy before winter comes along. Therefore, you can always take lots of photos and have an amazing hike up and down the trail. Additionally, if you love hunting, you can always get the permits and enjoy your trip.

Therefore, if you’re planning on going hiking, wait till fall to get the best out of it.

If you go hiking in the winter, you still need to worry about bears! Check out the video below to see why.

West Virginia Tourism Because of The Trail

People who aren’t from West Virginia might not think about it in the sense of a prime travel destination but, with more and more people becoming interested in keeping healthy and exploring the countryside, it seems poised for a return to form. Tourists are interested in the beauty that the great West Virginia outdoors has to offer, and the possibilities are certainly endless. People can explore, kayak, go white water rafting, or stay in town and discover historical destinations they never knew existed.

West Virginia’s Civil War Trail will take you to some history-intense locations such as Jackson’s Mill Farmstead, Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, the Philippi Covered Bridge, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park, West Virginia Independence Hall, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, and Grafton National Cemetery. If you’re interested in Civil War history, these stops are not to be missed.

If you’re in love with the outdoors, then be sure to take a trip to Blackwater Falls State Park, where you can find skiing and hiking activities for the whole family. If you just want to hang out and enjoy the beautiful view, then there are lodges, cabins and restaurants available on site. In addition, you’ll find other memorable locations like Bear Rocks Preserve and Backbone Mountain for hiking and camping nearby.

If you’re more interested in experiencing the areas mostly untouched by man, then you’re free to venture out into one of West Virginia’s nine swaths of land protected under The Wilderness Act. These include Cranberry Wilderness, Laurel Fork South Wilderness, and Otter Creek Wilderness. At any of these protected locations, you’ll find forests and preserves full of unique vegetation and wildlife–and great photo ops while you’re out hiking the many trails.

Don’t forget about the Appalachian Trail. It begins in Maine and extends downward before terminating in Georgia. The small town of Harpers Ferry is home of the aforementioned National Historical Park. You can find a number of museums, the John Brown’s Fort, and information on the Appalachian Trail right in town. If you head over in autumn, then you can view gorgeous colors around the Blue Ridge Mountains.

One of the best parts of West Virginia is the climate. It’s easier to plan a trip at any time of the year, but the best months are in spring and fall. Winters do get a bit chilly, and summers run quite a bit hotter than residents from other parts of the country might be accustomed to. No matter when you come to West Virginia, you’ll find something to do.

Preserve to Protect: A How-to Guide

Let’s face it: we’re part of one of the most uniquely wasteful societies in the world. Part of the ironic reason behind this is the increasingly complex way we manage our resources. The more we have available to us, the more we’re likely to consume. While that might be fine at home in the kitchen, it’s most definitely preferable to keep human impact as far away from natural preserves as possible. When you’re out for a hike or camping in the woods, you don’t want to see evidence that people were there before you.

Out of respect, here are a few of the things you can do to help keep nature at its finest:

If you’re on a backpacking excursion or simply taking a short hike, the smell of smoke can somewhat crush the feel of the great outdoors. While everyone loves a fire when camping, it’s better for the environment–and everyone else–if they’re kept small. When temperatures climb, check with local forest rangers to see if you’re allowed a fire.

When you do start a fire, be sure that it’s far enough away from dry brush that it won’t find its way elsewhere. When you go to sleep, take care to smother the fire completely. A lot of forest fires have been started after unwary campers failed to completely put out the embers beneath the top layer of ash. Be careful.

Don’t litter! Failing to pick up trash can hurt the wildlife, and any items you leave behind might stay there for years if they can’t decompose properly. Maintain a proper carry-in carry-out policy when outdoors. The general rule of thumb is simple: if you brought it with you, then don’t leave it behind. If you’re out backpacking or camping, then don’t forget to bring a trash bag.

When you’re on a trail, the best path is straight forward. When you step off the trail, you can errode the area around the trail and inadvertently make it grow in size. Sometimes you share your outdoors excursion with shockingly fragile ecosystems, and these are often endangered by hikers that wander off the path because of mud or other obstacles. Wear the proper footwear, and when possible, bypass the obstacle by going over.

This one’s important: make sure your food is contained to a bear bag or box. Leaving food out in the open can attract potentially dangerous wildlife, or help them rely on humans as a potential food source. No one wants a black bear wandering into camp because he’s used to getting a free meal. Keep safe, and be smart!

What is Hickory Creek Wilderness

Covering an area of over 8,600 acres, the Hickory Creek Wilderness is one of only two specifically designated wilderness areas in the state of Pennsylvania with the entirety of its property located within the state borders. It was designated Hickory Creek in 1984 by Congress, and it is currently part of a system of 109 million acres of land protected under the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 while being managed by the state’s Forest Service.

Located within the Allegheny National Forest in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania, the Hickory Creek Wilderness boasts lush and dense wooded areas abundant with northern hardwoods and hemlock as well as a forest floor of flowers, ferns, shrubs and mosses. Wildlife within the designated wilderness area includes relatively high populations of bear, deer and wild turkey. The wilderness also supports a 12-mile loop of a hiking trail with a dedicated trail head located off State Route 2002, accessible only on foot.

Because the wilderness area is a potential home to endangered species of plants and animals and is protected under the National Wilderness Preservation Act, several stipulations about utilizing the services of Hickory Creek are set in place so as to detract from the integrity of the ecosystems as little as possible. Forest Service employees and wilderness managers often encourage hikers and backpackers to employ “Leave No Trace” techniques. Many of these techniques reduce waste products being left or disposed of within the wilderness to avoid disturbing aforementioned ecosystems by minimizing human activity on the grounds. Others include some of the following:

  • Repackage food to avoid waste
  • Use dedicated camping sites rather than establishing your own, and keep campsites small – utilize areas free of vegetation
  • Set camp at least 200 feet away from riparian areas (banks of rivers or streams), bury human waste 6-8 inches underground and following the same distance protocols
  • Keep fires small, use only sticks on the forest floor that can be broken by hand
  • Do not approach or follow wildlife – observe and admire from a distance

There are many other conditions to follow regarding “Leave No Trace” techniques, all of which are accessible online.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 was designed and signed into law for the purpose of preserving select areas of nature “where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” In the interest of maintaining some form of wilderness for generations to come, Congress had designated the 100 million plus acres of land protected under the Act for the sake of protecting it from development on any urban scale “for the permanent good of the whole people.” While the wilderness areas can be utilized and enjoyed for recreational purposes by the general population, the Act only allows development within the areas that could benefit and enhance these recreational activities while still maintaining the general integrity of the nature and inlaying ecosystems. Under this Act, wilderness areas like the Hickory Creek Wilderness within the Allegheny National Forest can endure and thrive amid urban development and modern-day commercialization of the United States, allowing consumers to enjoy such wild and natural areas for years to come.

Ultimate Wilderness Hikes

In an age where the world seems like such a small place and everyone is so closely connected thanks to technology and the Internet, sometimes all you want to do is get out to the middle of nowhere so you can breathe just a little bit. And there aren’t many experiences that beat that than simply taking a trip out into the wilderness – getting some fresh air or reconnecting with nature, some people might say – for the ultimate hike.

And when it comes to nature in particular, the venues are almost limitless in terms of places to explore. Forests, mountains, vast expanses of plains, deserts – all of these are within reach in the continental United States, and many of them are safe and easily accessible for the outdoors layman or the seasoned hiker or backpacker.

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, the state of Washington boasts two of the best and most scenic wilderness trails the country has to offer: the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs through the Pasayten Wilderness, and Olympic National Park, which sports a 34 mile trail from Dosewallips to Lake Quinault. Similar to its lengthy East Coast cousin, the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail sports a thru-hike that runs from Mexico all the way to Canada and can take an estimated 5 months to traverse in one span. For those of you who aren’t looking for quite that much adventure at one time, the Pasayten Wilderness still offers plentiful routes for comfortable day hikes while giving some of the best scenery the Pacific Northwest can offer, including North Cascades National Park where you can see glaciers – yes, glaciers.

Jumping across the country, I mentioned earlier the Appalachian Trail. Spanning nearly 2,200 miles and crossing through 14 different state borders, the Appalachian Trail is the crown jewel of American thru-hikes. It offers diverse levels of elevation (and traversing difficulty) at various points which makes for breath-taking and awe-inspiring views, and the immense stretch of hike-only foot paths is easily broken into dozens upon dozens of noteworthy day hike trails, not least among them the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee, Bear Mountain in New York and Baxter State Park in Maine.

For the ultimate hiker, however, going off the beaten path may just be the last resort you’ve been seeking. A trail that is not even a trail, the Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Mollie Beattie Wilderness offer the “Caribou Trail,” a real-to-life migration trail for Alaska’s wildlife. Exceedingly noteworthy is the park’s complete lack of actual trail heads or trails in general, so this sort of venture is best reserved for the most experienced and seasoned veterans among hikers and backpackers. However, to dismiss the beauty of Alaskan nature when discussing prime hiking and backpacking trails is virtually a crime in and of itself.

Many other trails and thru-hikes exist within the continental United States, each as scenic and inspiring as the last. The Anhinga Trail and Wilderness Waterway Trail will guide you through the Floridian Everglades, the Continental Divide Trail running from New Mexico to Montana navigates through the Rocky Mountain range and into Glacier National Park, and Utah sports the Zion Wilderness and Arches National Park, connecting with the Angel’s Landing Trail and Devil’s Garden Trail respectively.

Otis G. Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness

When you have one of the smallest wilderness areas in the world, it only makes sense to have one of the longest names for a wilderness area to fill the space, both in words and in syllables.

Fire Island is a very important barrier island that shields Long Island, New York, from much of the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean. It paid a bit of a price for its role as protectorate during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Part of Fire Island that took a lot of the storm was the part that was along the southern and eastern shore of Fire Island, a small strip of land called the Otis G. Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, designated by Congress as a federal wilderness area in 1980.

Fire Island itself is a very narrow, 32-mile-long island just off the southern part of Long Island. The island itself is no more than a half-mile wide at one point, and as narrow as just 200 yards. About seven miles of this island on the eastern part is designated part of the Otis Pike Wilderness, from the visitor center to the west all the way to Watch Hill on the east. A couple of private beaches on the far eastern side of the island are not part of the wilderness and essentially make the easternmost boundary.

The wilderness area was named after former New York congressman Otis G. Pike, who headed up the initiative to create the wilderness and have it protected by the National Park Service. At just more than 2 square miles (about 1,400 aces), it is one of the smallest wilderness areas the NPS operates and is the only wilderness area in all of New York state.

The original wilderness was about 1,363 acres when created in 1980, and about 17 more acres were potentially available to be included at a later date should they meet federal wilderness standards.  Most of that was noted as compliant by the Federal Register in 1999, then the last acre was added in 2015 after Hurricane Sandy wiped out remaining structures on the land, and it was incorporated into the Otis Pike wilderness area.

While not very large as a wilderness area, the Otis G. Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness is packed with nature and outdoor activities for most tastes. There is backcountry camping available, as well as hiking along the old Burma Road. The terrain is varied, with pine forest, a grassy wetland, sand dunes – all of which provide habitat for white-tailed deer, herons and various waterfowl that use the wilderness as a “rest stop” on its usual migratory path.

If you are someone who likes to do some saltwater and/or ocean fishing, the Otis G. Pike Wilderness provides opportunities for anglers to angle for bluefish, striped bass or winter flounder among several other saltwater species that roam around Long Island. Though it is a tiny wilderness spot, the Otis G. Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness is a vibrant space to get a wilderness experience just 50 miles from Manhattan.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

If you believe everything told to you, we have some swampland in New Jersey to sell you.

We always laugh over that joke, making fun of some of our ability to be deceived and willingness to believe even the most absurd statements.

We can laugh because we all know that either we don’t actually own that bridge or swampland that we claim we’ll sell, or that the very item doesn’t even exist.

Technically, though, there is swampland in New Jersey, and technically we do own it as it is part of the public lands. Say hello to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Morris County, New Jersey.

Spreading out over nearly 8,000 acres, the Great Swamp is located about 25 miles west of New York City and is reportedly a rest and feeding base for nearly 250 bird species.  The refuge was designated a national wilderness through an act of Congress in 1960, and it was declared a national landmark in 1966 due to being “an exceptional example of the natural history of the United States.”

The refuge has such diversity in habitats that varied animals like fox, muskrat, deer, turtle, frog, bird and fish populate the area. The swampland is actually a leftover of the Glacial Lake Passaic, which was a 300-square-mile lake that covered northern New Jersey about 12,000-15,000 years ago.  The lake came from melting ice off the Wisconsin Glacier and built up due to a plugged outlet, and the water finally released from the area at a higher altitude than the original outlet. The refuge contains part of the Great Swamp watershed that leads into the Passaic River.

The wilderness has a variety of lands, from marshes to wet meadows to swamp woods to oak-covered ridges. The refuge is home to nearly 40 species of mammals, including the rare Indiana bat, which is on an endangered species list. There are also blue-spotted salamanders and rare bog turtles which call the refuge home as well.

There are more than eight miles of trails in the refuge for ample hiking opportunities, but only during daylight hours. Camping and picnicking are reportedly prohibited anywhere in the wilderness area. The refuge was established after an outpouring of support in saving it from development of what would have been a major airport. Later, in 1968, the eastern part of the wilderness area became the first designated wilderness area to be under the auspices of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Yes, believe it or not, Florida does not have a monopoly on swampland. With the last Ice Age dropping glaciers as far south as the Atlantic seaboard, swamplands have been prevalent in certain areas of the country. New Jersey’s Great Swamp refuge is perhaps one of the better-maintained primitive lands that give us a view into what that part of the country may have looked like just after the big glacier melt.

It is a piece of history. Or pre-history, if you would rather.

The Wilderness in Texas

Texas is such a big state that it can easily be its own country (and yes, for a time it was its own country). And while it does have a lot of land, and it is one of the most populated states in the Union, the fact is that there is still plenty of open space, though some of it is under government control.

The funny thing is that for all the people and concrete, steel and asphalt that exists in the state, Texas has its share of wilderness – granted, not as much as states like Alaska or Wyoming, but even a populous state can have areas that have been preserved by government for its beauty and/or natural resources.  Here’s a quick look at six designated wilderness areas in the Lone Star State.

Big Slough Wilderness

Despite “big” in its name, the Big Slough Wilderness is actually the smallest of the six wilderness areas in Texas, at a little more than 3,500 acres. It is a varied area, however, with the Neches River along the eastern boundary, rolling terrain, several decent hiking trails (including a 20-mile sojourn) along with a small creek that features bass, catfish and sunfish for fishing. Deer, wild hogs and even squirrels consider this area home, which are an attraction to hunters during the fall. Congress designated it a wilderness area in 1984 and it is under management of the U.S. Forest Service.

Guadalupe Mountain Wilderness

Located inside Guadalupe Mountain National Park, this wilderness area in west Texas is the largest such area in the state and is considered the most extensive fossil reef in the world. You see, this area was under a large sea of water more than 250 million years ago. After a while the reef died and was buried, but the reef was raised again, revealing the fossils. The highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak (nearly 8,800 feet) is here, and despite an arid climate with little rain, the wilderness is home to 900 species of plants, more than 300 birds, 60 mammals and another 60 or so species of reptiles and amphibians. Managed by the National Park Service, the 47,000-acre area was designate by Congress in 1978.

Indian Mounds Wilderness

Established by an act of Congress in 1984, Indian Mounds Wilderness is located against the Louisiana state line and features a variety of trees, three creeks and the Toledo Bend Reservoir which is large enough for boating and fishing. The area is nearly 13,000 acres and buts against the Indian Mounds Recreation Area and features Hurricane Bayou, Indiana Creek and Bull Creek running through and alongside it. There are abandoned Forest Service roads which are used as hiking and horse trails as well.

Little Lake Creek Wilderness

Located along the western part of the Gulf Coast, Little Lake Creek received its designation from Congress in 1984 and it covers about 3,800 acres, bordered on the west by an old oil pipeline right-of-way. This is a fertile wilderness, being near the Gulf of Mexico but also having three creeks running through it – Pole Creek, Sand Branch, and Little Lake Creek – to feed woodpeckers, armadillos, deer and owls, but also snakes, mosquitos, ticks and poison ivy. However, there are miles of trails (including one that crosses the pipeline twice) and camping areas.

Turkey Hill Wilderness

This 5,500-acre wilderness area along the Gulf Coast plain was designated by Congress in 1984 and features Turkey Hill, which reaches a modest 300-foot elevation. Despite the name, deer is prevalent here (and sorry, no turkey) for hunters, and there are miles of trails for hikers and three waterways – Sandy Creek, Clear Branch and Wash Branch.  A decent forest of hardwood and pine trees is present, and several miles of trail are highlighted by the 3.5- mile Wash Branch Trail.

Upland Island Wilderness

Establsihed by Congress in 1984, the 13,000-acre Upland Island Wilderness has the reputation of being one of the more “interesting” wilderness areas in the state, featuring several exotic varieties of plants, including rose pogonias, azaleas and pitcher plants (which are carnivorous). Loggers abandoned this area in the 1930s, but a new generation of hardwoods and pines cover the area. There are several great hiking and horseback trails, and there is a lot of water flowing in five water ways – Cypress Creek, Salt Branch, and Oil Well, Big and Graham creeks.

How Did West Virginia Attain Statehood in 1863?

West Virginia, today bordered by Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Maryland, is a somewhat peculiar state with a peculiar history. While some states made their way into the Union with a whimper, West Virginia did it with a bang based on timing alone. It happened during the American Civil War, and partly because so many of the region’s citizens were divided on the issue of slavery and other aspects of the Union and Confederate causes. Many residents still owned slaves at the time many of which died from wrongful death.

Virginia was one of the Confederate states to secede from the Union, and the region that would eventually become West Virginia included many counties that sympathized with the Confederate cause. Even so, West Virginia soon broke away and rejoined the Union on June 20, 1863. At this point it also became an important strategic point of interest for both sides.

Before statehood was attained, there was lengthy debate as to how and why the region should secede from the Confederate side of the country, not to mention what effect and consequences would transpire should its people decide to make the split. To be sure, officials were not in favor of rebellion and did not want to be viewed as such by the Union.

Before the decision could be made, the Wheeling Conventions were held with the purpose of reorganizing state government offices. The result was a dual government in which one side remained loyal to the Confederate cause while the other remained loyal to the original Union. Needless to say, the result was chaos. After another convention took place, a new state constitution was drafted and the vote that began to swing the West Virginia region toward the Union was held on May 13, 1862. Union President Abraham Lincoln ratified the act that would enable West Virginia’s statehood with a single prerequisite: slavery must eventually be abolished in the region.

Yet another convention was held on February 12, 1863 to discuss and vote on the condition that Lincoln had designated for statehood. The new state constitution was put into effect with that condition met, and so Lincoln had the honor of admitting West Virginia to statehood on April 20, 1863. The event took place a full sixty days later, and the rest is history.

It should be acknowledged that many Confederate sympathizers were away serving in the Confederate Army at the time, and therefore could not vote on the initiative to create the new state. It created a rift between the residents on West Virginia, and a brief suit was brought about in order to return lands to Virginia. It was entirely unsuccessful.

West Virginia is considered part of the south, and is often referred to as Appalachia because of its geographical location in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. Today, it is still well known for a thriving lumber and coal industry. Tourists often come to explore some of the hilliest terrains in the U.S., while others gallivant through its many caves. A large body of scientific research is also done there.