It's tough to beat the majestic splendor of trees. America's forests boast breathtaking scenery, courtesy of towering trees, beautiful waterfalls and native wildlife. Many forests also offer outdoor recreational opportunities, including camping, fishing, hiking and skiing.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park (Boulder Creek, CA) Established in 1902, this is California's oldest state park, covering 18,000 acres. It houses the oldest continuous stand of coast redwoods south of San Francisco and includes more than 80 miles of trails and several waterfalls. Activities include hiking, camping, biking and equestrian trails.
Green Mountain National Forest (Rutland, VT) Central and southwestern Vermont hosts this forest, which covers more than 400,000 acres. The forest runs through quaint Vermont communities and is a favorite destination for fall color. The site offers multi-use trails, kayaking, fishing, hunting and skiing. Three national trails run through the forest: the Appalachian Trail, the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail and the Long Trail.
Hiawatha National Forest (Gladstone, MI) Sometimes called the Great Lakes National Forest, this tree-filled gem cozies up to the coasts of three of the five Great Lakes: Superior, Huron and Michigan. The area features undeveloped lakeside beaches, five lighthouses, four islands and plenty of winter sports, thanks to annual snowfall of more than 200 inches.
Mark Twain National Forest (Rolla, MO) Located on more than 1.5 million acres in the Ozark Highlands, this forest encompasses diverse wilderness environments in addition to forestland, including prairies, rocky bluffs and crystal-clear waterways. Recreation sites include lakes, trails and floatable creeks. Ample campgrounds provide ideal accommodations for enjoying a day of fishing, hunting, nature watching or swimming.
Ocala National Forest (Marion, FL) This is the world's largest contiguous Sand Pine scrub forest. It's located north of Orlando, making it the nation's southernmost forest. More than 600 lakes, rivers and springs are nestled in the forest, including three clear-water springs. Swimming, boating, snorkeling, hiking, camping and hunting are just a few activities visitors can enjoy.
Tahoe National Forest (Nevada City, CA) More than 871,000 acres greet visitors to Tahoe National Forest, one of eight national forests along the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Old growth Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine form a key part of the vegetation. Hundreds of lakes and rivers provide places for swimming, boating and fishing. Winter sports are popular here, including snowmobiling and both downhill and cross-country skiing.
William B. Bankhead National Forest (Double Springs, AL) Pine and hardwood forest dominate 180,000 acres in this Alabama park, located at the western end of the Appalachian Mountains. Streams, gorges, waterfalls and wildlife make this Deep South jewel sparkle. Activities include hiking, canoeing, fishing and camping. Don't miss the 500-year-old poplar tree in Bee Branch Canyon.