If your vision of West Virginia is filled with mountains, forests and down-to-earth descendants of miners, you aren’t far off. At the crossroads of North and South, and entirely contained by the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia’s identity is very much shaped by its geography—at once an intersection of American cultures, and fiercely its own. Born out of Civil War succession, West Virginia has historically been a place where Southern drawls meet Northern sensibilities. Vast deposits of coal led the way for the mining industry that shaped much of the economy and down-to-earth culture that still characterizes the state. But what people often overlook is West Virginia’s abundance of green. Monongahela National Park boasts over 500 miles of hiking trails, as well as opportunities for mountain climbing, rafting and birding. The pretty town Thomas serves as a perfect base for exploring the amber-colored waters of Blackwater Falls State Park. For those more in the mood for old-time charm, the quaint Victorians of Wheeling create an irresistible historical ambiance, still grounded in that down-home West Virginian sensibility. So get on your hiking boots and get going.