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States ranked from least to most woodsy

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Dailyinvention // Flickr

States ranked from least to most woodsy

America’s national forests do more than offer us opportunities to play outside in nature. They protect our wildlife and play a valuable role in our ecosystems. Even in cities, they boost air quality, moderate air temperatures, and help reduce harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Every single U.S. state, from the West Coast to the East Coast, has something to offer its residents in terms of the great outdoors. Here, we’ve ranked the states from least to most woodsy, based on how much of each state's land is covered by forest. Our story is based on a study by David Nowak and Eric Greenfield (2012) of the USDA Forest Service. In this study, the authors calculated the percent tree cover of every U.S. state through photo interpretation of Google Earth imagery. In total, they estimated tree cover in the conterminous United States at 34.2 percent, or a whopping 659 million acres. They also estimated tree cover in Hawaii, but were unable to calculate total cover for Alaska because of poor image quality in rural areas for that state.

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Fungus Guy // Wikimedia Commons

#49. North Dakota

State covered by trees: 2.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 13%

Rural areas covered by trees: 2.5%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 4.4%

Despite its well-known status as a prairie state, North Dakota still has plenty of pine trees--450,000 acres, or 1 percent, of forest, to be exact, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Around half of its forests are located in the Killdeer Mountains, Turtle Mountains, Pembina Hills and around Devils Lake.

 

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Hanyou23 // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Nebraska

State covered by trees: 3.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 15%

Rural areas covered by trees: 3.5%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 4%

The home of Arbor Day, Nebraska has two national forests. One is Nebraska National Forest, which used seedlings to create the largest hand-planted forest in the world, and the other is Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest.

 

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KimonBerlin // Wikimedia Commons

#47. South Dakota

State covered by trees: 5.7%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 14%

Rural areas covered by trees: 5.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2.1%

South Dakota, although relatively flat, has about 1.7 million acres of forest, but that’s only slightly more than 3 percent of the state’s total land. Most of the forest, peppered by ash trees, is located in the Black Hills region in the western part of the state.

 

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USACE-T // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Kansas

State covered by trees: 8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 25%

Rural areas covered by trees: 7.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 5.6%

There’s no place like home when it comes to woodsy in Kansas. You’ll find 5.2 million acres of forests, woodlands, and trees here, taking up 10 percent of the state’s total land area. Surprisingly, 95 percent of the state’s rural forest is privately owned. 

 

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Pixabay

#45. Iowa

State covered by trees: 10.4%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 19%

Rural areas covered by trees: 10.1%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 6.6%

When most people think of Iowa, they envision the heartland, with miles and miles of corn and crop dusters. But Iowa has four major forests, including Loess Hills State Forest--the state’s biggest.

 

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National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Nevada

State covered by trees: 11.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 9.6%

Rural areas covered by trees: 11.6%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2.3%

Nevada may have Las Vegas, but it also has The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (HTNF)--the largest national forest of the United States (excluding Alaska). The forest is so big at nearly 6.3 million acres that it actually stretches into California.

 

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USFWS Mountain-Prairie // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Wyoming

State covered by trees: 14.5%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 19.9%

Rural areas covered by trees: 14.4%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2.6%

With a whopping eight national forests and 9 million acres of wilderness, Wyoming offers plenty of hiking, fishing, camping and backpacking activities. Wyoming is also home to Yellowstone National Park, hundreds of animal species and its signature Old Faithful geyser.

 

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Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Illinois

State covered by trees: 15.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 25.4%

Rural areas covered by trees: 14.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 13.9%

Nicknamed "The Prairie State," Illinois is marked by farmland, rolling hills, and of course, Chicago, but it also has plenty of wildlife throughout its six state forests and 4.4 million acres of forest land. The Shawnee National Forest, land designated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, is the single largest publicly owned body of land in the state.

 

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Tobias Alt // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Utah

State covered by trees: 17.8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 16.4%

Rural areas covered by trees: 17.8%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2.5%

As a Western state, Utah’s five national forests cover nearly 9.2 million acres--from the mountains of central Utah to the Wasatch Front--a source of drinking water to Salt Lake City. Dixie National Forest is the largest forest in the state and stretches 170 acres across southern Utah.

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Southwestern Region, USDA Forest Service // Wikimedia Commons

#40. New Mexico

State covered by trees: 19.1%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 12%

Rural areas covered by trees: 19.2%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 1.1%

New Mexico is home to 109 plant species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The state has seven national forests, 15 national parks, plenty of Aztec ruins, and historical trails.

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Frank Fräger // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Arizona

State covered by trees: 19.2%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 17.6%

Rural areas covered by trees: 19.3%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 4.9%

Arizona, famous to many for the Grand Canyon, has six national forests that are incredibly diverse, with steep mountains and high stony plateaus. Plus, the state’s “cypress thicket” is unique to the state.

 

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Summer M. Tribble // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Texas

State covered by trees: 23.4%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 31.4%

Rural areas covered by trees: 23%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 6.6%

In “The Lone Star State,” the U.S. Forest Service manages 675,000 acres that make up four national forests (the Sam Houston National Forest, the Angelina National Forest, the Davy Crockett Forest and the Sabine National Forest). Texas also is home to the Caddo-Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands.

 

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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Colorado

State covered by trees: 23.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 18.5%

Rural areas covered by trees: 23.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2%

From flat plains to steep mountains, “The Rocky Mountain State” has lots of forest to offer wildlife and residents alike, with plenty of spruce-fir and ponderosa pine trees. There are four national parks: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Mesa Verde National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site and Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

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Obocrayon // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Indiana

State covered by trees: 25.7%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 23.7%

Rural areas covered by trees: 25.9%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 7.4%

There are 25 state parks in this Great Lakes state, whose motto is “the crossroads of America.” From Turnkey Run State Park to Spring Mill state Park, there’s no shortage of wilderness to explore in Indiana. 

 

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Schyler // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Oklahoma

State covered by trees: 25.9%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 31.2%

Rural areas covered by trees: 25.5%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 8.1%

Hike, fish or camp in Oklahoma’s 33 state parks scattered throughout the state. From Red Rock Canyon State Park to Little Sahara State Park, there’s equal parts geographical diversity and natural beauty.

 

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Forest Service Northern Region // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Montana

State covered by trees: 27.5%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 36.3%

Rural areas covered by trees: 27.4%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2.7%

Often called “Big Sky Country,” this northwestern state, the fourth largest in the U.S., has a whopping 54 state parks with lots of stunning scenery and trails to explore. Montana is the home of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and there are ample opportunities for trout and walleye fly-fishing.

 

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Mandy Jansen // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Delaware

State covered by trees: 33.3%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 35%

Rural areas covered by trees: 33%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 18.1%

Delaware's 16 state parks offer lots of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to kayaking and swimming. The state is peppered with mixed oak forests, bald cypress trees and plenty of other greenery. During the spring and summer, tourists and locals alike particularly enjoy Fort Delaware State Park on Pea Patch Island.

 

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Yinan Chen // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Minnesota

State covered by trees: 34.8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 34%

Rural areas covered by trees: 34.9%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 4.7%

In Minnesota, known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” there are 75 state parks. Wildlife abounds in Minnesota, including whitetail deer and bobcat. The state also has the nation's largest population of timber wolves outside Alaska.

 

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Madereugeneandrew // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Hawaii

State covered by trees: 34.9%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 39.9%

Rural areas covered by trees: 33.8%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 20.1%

Aloha from Hawaii, where there are 50 state parks that span around 30,000 acres on five major islands. The National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii holds the majority of the world’s population of endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

 

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Michael Schweppe // Wikimedia Commons

#30. California

State covered by trees: 36.1%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 25.1%

Rural areas covered by trees: 37.1%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 5.9%

“The Golden State” is a nature lover’s dream. California has a whopping 280 state park units, more than 340 miles of coastline peppered with scenic views and wildlife, and 4,500 miles of trails. Each year, more than 67 million people visit California’s state parks, often to see the notorious sea otters on the central California coastline.

 

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HalcyonToast // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Idaho

State covered by trees: 37.9%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 10%

Rural areas covered by trees: 38.2%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 0.2%

Idaho has 30 state parks and attracts around 4.5 million visitors every year. Over 300 wildlife species live in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, such as woodland caribou, grizzly bears and bald eagles.

 

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ShroomyDan // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Ohio

State covered by trees: 39.9%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 31.5%

Rural areas covered by trees: 41.1%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 9.8%

In “The Buckeye State,” the state’s forests vary in size (some clock in at 64,000 acres) and span across 21 Ohio counties. Shawnee State Forest, also called "The Little Smokies of Ohio," is the largest, with plenty of timber and equal room for wildlife and forestry research.

 

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Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Missouri

State covered by trees: 40.3%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 31.5%

Rural areas covered by trees: 40.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 3.6%

In the “Show Me” state, there’s more than 14 million acres of forest land, or about a third of the state, with plenty of oak, walnut, pine and red cedar trees. Southern Missouri is also home to Mark Twain National Forest, and parts of the Ozark Trail wind through the forest, connecting St. Louis to the Arkansas border.

 

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Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Oregon

State covered by trees: 40.8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 36.6%

Rural areas covered by trees: 40.8%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 1.4%

There are six state forests in Oregon, including Tillamook State Forest, which has 355,000 acres to explore along the northern coast. The streams, rivers and lakes provide habitats for a variety of endangered fish species, including coho salmon, Chinook salmon, chum salmon, steelhead trout and the Oregon chub.

 

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MJ Boswell // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Maryland

State covered by trees: 42.8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 34.3%

Rural areas covered by trees: 45.2%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 17.5%

The Chesapeake Bay state has nine state forests and 145,394 acres of designated state forest. Its state tree is the White Oak--the most abundant species of oak in Maryland. It’s found in every single county.

 

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Ron Clausen // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Washington

State covered by trees: 47.2%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 34.6%

Rural areas covered by trees: 47.8%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 3.7%

The Evergreen state has plenty of greenery but is most famous for Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula, which receives heavy rainfall. There are more than 100 state parks, Washington has one of the biggest state park systems in the U.S., bald eagles and priceless views of the Puget Sound.

 

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Todd Klassy // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Wisconsin

State covered by trees: 47.7%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 31.8%

Rural areas covered by trees: 48.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 3.6%

In 1878, Wisconsin became the first state to create a state park, which consisted of 760 square miles in northern Wisconsin. Today, there are 66 state parks that span more than 60,570 acres. In Milwaukee, the state’s biggest city, there is even a state park right downtown called Lakeshore State Park.

 

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Tobin // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Louisiana

State covered by trees: 51.5%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 34.9%

Rural areas covered by trees: 52.6%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 4.2%

Back in 1934, Louisiana's state park system began when the state passed legislation that created the State Parks Commission of Louisiana. Now, there are 21 state parks on 30,000 acres of land and five national parks.

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Chauncey Davis // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Florida

State covered by trees: 54.9%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 35.5%

Rural areas covered by trees: 58.4%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 9.9%

In “The Sunshine State,” there are 11 national parks, including Biscayne National park, which is within sight of downtown Miami but feels like a world away, with coral reefs and turquoise waters. What’s more: Everglades National Park protects rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile and panther.

 

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Nicholas A. Tonelli // Wikimedia Commons

#20. New Jersey

State covered by trees: 57%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 53.3%

Rural areas covered by trees: 59.8%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 39.4%

New Jersey’s Division of Parks and Forestry manages more than 50 protected areas that include state parks, state forests and recreation areas. They range dramatically in size, from the 32-acre Barnegat Lighthouse State Park to Wharton State Forest, which is 115,000 acres in total. The Salem Oak has been the symbol of New Jersey's state parks since 1905.

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Tennessee

State covered by trees: 57.1%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 43.8%

Rural areas covered by trees: 58.6%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 8%

There are 56 parks and 1,100 miles of trails for visitors and locals to explore in Tennessee. Fall Creek Falls State Park is Tennessee’s largest park. It encompasses more than 26,000 acres and contains Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States.

 

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Valis55 // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Arkansas

State covered by trees: 57.2%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 42.3%

Rural areas covered by trees: 57.9%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 3.3%

Arkansas has a whopping 52 state parks. Mount Magazine State Park is a popular spot and is located on the state's tallest mountain with incredible views of river valleys and canyons. The park is great for rock climbing and mountain biking. 

 

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Rafael Rodrigues Camargo // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Kentucky

State covered by trees: 58%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 22.1%

Rural areas covered by trees: 60%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 1.9%

“The Bluegrass State” has 49 state parks with plenty of landscapes, from lakes and caves to lush forests that protect the state’s wildlife. The state is known for the Eastern Kentucky elk herd, which is the largest herd in America, east of the Rockies.

 

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Sharon Mollerus // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Michigan

State covered by trees: 59.5%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 35%

Rural areas covered by trees: 61.4%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 4.2%

In Michigan, which borders four of the Great Lakes, there’s so much forest to explore that people are never more than half an hour from a Michigan state park, state forest campground or state trail system. There are 103 state park and recreation areas in total.

 

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Thomson200 // Wikimedia Commons

#15. North Carolina

State covered by trees: 62.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 51.1%

Rural areas covered by trees: 63.9%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 8.1%

There are 10 national parks in North Carolina with around 19 million visitors. One of the most famous is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is known for diversity in plant and animal life. The Trail of Tears also passes through the state, which commemorates the survival of Cherokee people who were removed from their homelands.

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Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Mississippi

State covered by trees: 64%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 47.3%

Rural areas covered by trees: 64.8%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 3.4%

As of 2014, Mississippi’s state park system comprised 24 state parks and one natural area.Located in the state’s pine belt region, Paul B. Johnson State Park is a natural wonderland packed with long-leaf and loblolly pines, dogwoods and oaks. 

 

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Mark Musselman // Wikimedia Commons

#13. South Carolina

State covered by trees: 64.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 48.9%

Rural areas covered by trees: 66.2%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 6.8%

South Carolina has more than 80,000 acres of protected lands that span the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern border. Hunting Island State Park is the most popular park in the state, attracting 1.2 million visitors per year.

 

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Daniel Case // Wikimedia Commons

#12. New York

State covered by trees: 65%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 42.6%

Rural areas covered by trees: 67.6%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 6.8%

The Empire State might have bustling New York City, but it also has plenty of 180 state parks, bald eagles, black bears and coyotes. Hudson Highlands State Park offers lots of hikes with great views. The park is a mostly undeveloped preservice of around 6,000 acres, with plenty of fishing and boating opportunities.  

 

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David Baron // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Pennsylvania

State covered by trees: 65.8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 41%

Rural areas covered by trees: 69.3%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 7.6%

There are 20 state forests in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States. The state forest system comprises 2.2 million acres of forestland in 48 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

 

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Tiia Monto // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Georgia

State covered by trees: 66.4%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 54.1%

Rural areas covered by trees: 67.7%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 7.7%

There are seven state-managed forests in Georgia. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, for instance, has nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties and about 850 miles of recreation trails. 

 

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Karen Nutini // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Virginia

State covered by trees: 66.7%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 39.8%

Rural areas covered by trees: 69.6%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 5.7%

The Virginia Department of Forestry manages 24 state forests at around 68,626 acres rich with history. The Charles Irving Thornton tombstone on the Cumberland State Forest is on the National Register of Historical Places with an inscription written by Charles Dickens.

 

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Alabama

State covered by trees: 70%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 55.2%

Rural areas covered by trees: 71.5%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 7.5%

Alabama has four national forests: the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee. In the Conecuh, there’s plenty of wildlife to see on a trip, such as white-tailed deer and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. Hikers will delight in all the trails—there’s more than 342 miles to explore.

 

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Geoking66 // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Rhode Island

State covered by trees: 70.3%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 51%

Rural areas covered by trees: 82%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 27.3%

Known for sandy shores, seaside towns, and Newport’s Gilded Age mansions, Rhode Island is also home to two national parks and 15 state parks. There are three state forests: Lincoln Woods State Forest, George Washington Memorial State Forest and Wickaboxet State Forest. 

 

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Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Massachusetts

State covered by trees: 70.8%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 65.1%

Rural areas covered by trees: 74.4%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 35.5%

There’s plenty of great outdoors to explore in Massachusetts, which has Cape Cod and 15 national parks. The Department of Conservation and Recreation manages more than 450,000 acres of forests and parks, nearly 10 percent of the state’s total land mass. There’s also more than 2,000 miles of trails and 145 miles of paved bike and rail trails.

 

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Morrowlong // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Connecticut

State covered by trees: 72.6%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 67.4%

Rural areas covered by trees: 75.9%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 36%

Named for the Connecticut River, “The Constitution State” has two national parks and plenty of state forests, including Tunxis State Forest and Devil’s Hopyard State Park. The Appalachian Trail passes through the state as does the New England Trail, which covers 215 miles and offers picture postcard worthy snapshots of farmland, forest and river valleys. Connecticut is also the home of J. Alden Weir, one of America's most loved Impressionists, whose home is set on 60-plus wooded acres.

 

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ForestWander // Wikimedia Commons

#4. West Virginia

State covered by trees: 81.4%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 61%

Rural areas covered by trees: 82.3%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 3.1%

With six national parks and 37 state parks, this Appalachian state lives up to its nickname as “The Mountain State.” The Appalachian Trail, created in 1921, also runs right through the state’s scenic Appalachian Mountains, which extend all the way up to Canada. 

 

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Lostdrewid // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Vermont

State covered by trees: 81.5%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 53%

Rural areas covered by trees: 82.3%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 1.8%

Vermont might be the second smallest state by population, but there’s still two national parks and plenty of forested terrain, especially hardwoods and conifers. The Green Mountains, which run north and south up the middle of the state, are wedged between Lake Champlain on the west and the Connecticut River valley on the east.

 

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Andythrasher // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Maine

State covered by trees: 83.1%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 52.3%

Rural areas covered by trees: 84.4%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 2.5%

New England’s northernmost state has four national parks, including Acadia National Park, where various habitats thrive along a rocky Atlantic coastline. From the mountains to the sea, more than 3.3 million people have set out to explore the park and 158 miles of its hiking trails, the National Park Service estimates.

 

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Marcus Quigmire // Wikimedia Commons

#1. New Hampshire

State covered by trees: 88.9%

Urban and community areas covered by trees: 66%

Rural areas covered by trees: 91.5%

State tree cover found in urban and community areas: 7.4%

When it comes to woodsy, no state ranks higher than the Granite State. New Hampshire is peppered by small towns stitched together by vast stretches of wilderness. Plenty of moose and black bears call the White Mountain National Forest home, while hikers delight in the Appalachian Trail, which runs throughout the state.

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