As John Smith became the first known European explorer to travel the Susquehanna River in the 17th century, he entered a state that would later be named for its many woodlands. Sylvania, Latin for the forest, describes Pennsylvania perfectly. In Smith's day, the area was totally covered in trees like sugar maples, oaks, ash and black cherry. Today over 50% of Pennsylvania is still covered in a forested wilderness.
Appalachian Mountain ranges like the Alleghenys and Poconos run through Pennsylvania. The state is almost totally covered by mountains, as a series of rolling hills, plateaus, ridges and peaks consistently reach over 3,500 feet. Through thick forest and atop ridge lines, the Appalachian Trail treks through 230 miles of the state. One of the most rugged sections of the 2,190-mile trail, backpackers refer to it as "the place where boots go to die." The terrain takes you to babbling mountain streams and scenic overlooks, attracting those looking for solitude, wilderness and adventure.
Near Erie, Presque Isle State Park has a tropical feel with its white-sand beaches on the great lake. Cherry Springs State Park near Coudersport supports the state’s beautiful black cherry tree groves. A dark sky area, the park gives starry views out in the wildest, darkest parts of the state.
The Allegheny National Forest, comprising 517,000 acres, is the place to be for off-roading, camping, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. This is an enormous area to explore with native brook trout hiding under the rocky outcroppings of cold-water streams, while whitetails thrive along marshy riversides.
The massive forests and diverse terrain produce an incredible mix of big and small game for outdoor recreation that runs deep across the state. Pennsylvania is home to incredible bugling elk, trophy black bears and the largest population of deer hunters in the country.
With more than 50,000 farms and over 7 million acres of farmland, Pennsylvania also has a thriving agriculture industry. Old red barns, pastureland, grazing cattle and hay-filled valleys are common fixtures on a landscape that's situated against the state's picturesque mountains. Pennsylvania is known for its dairy production and is the birthplace of cheesecake. The state also produces a large amount of the nation’s mushrooms, with 445 billion pounds of mushrooms grown, harvested and shipped around the country. A Philly cheesesteak with Pennsylvania provolone cheese on a crisp, soft roll is a Pennsylvania delicacy. Smother that in sautéed onions and mushrooms, and you've got a tasty symbol of the "Keystone State."
The mountains, farms, forests and industry of Pennsylvania offers something for everyone searching for their own slice of heaven on earth.