There’s a great expression in Italian: La fame viene mangiando.

It literally means Hunger arrives as you’re eating, and it perfectly sums up the attitude of that food-obsessed country. I always thought a similar expression for travel would work well in the same vein: Wanderlust viene viaggiando (Wanderlust arrives as you’re traveling).

That certainly sums up my discovery of beautiful Cooper’s Rock State Forest.

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan

I’ve already written about my driving tour of the American midwest this past summer and visiting many places I’d never seen before.

On my return to Washington, DC, I stopped and stayed overnight in Morgantown, West Virginia – a great find.

The next day, as I set out on the last leg of my ride home, I saw the turn-off to Cooper’s Rock, and decided to stretch my legs and explore before continuing the drive.

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan

Am I glad I did!

I saw photos of Cooper’s Rock when I was in Morgantown and a local had mentioned I should try to visit.

As any seasoned traveller knows – never ignore locals’ tips when you can help it.

This was definitely a great call – and merits another visit with more time to explore and hike more extensively.

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan

Cooper’s Rock was built as a public works program during America’s Great Depression. Young, unmarried men from poor West Virginia families were selected to carry out the work constructing the park.

They lived on site and were paid – with most of their earnings going back to their families. Those of us who visit today owe them a great deal of gratititude.

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan

Today’s park provides spectacular outlooks – built by these energetic young men. I watched hawks soar overhead as I admired the majesic beauty of the landscape.

Well-marked paths dot the forestland. I didn’t have much time, but I did explore part of “Rattlesnake Trail” – having grown up hiking New Yorks’s Adirondack Mountains as a kid, I’ve hiked and camped alongside my share of rattlesnakes. Thick socks, hiking boots and plenty of noise along the hiking paths are the way to go…

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan

I am pretty well-travelled in my country, but shame on me for not having explored West Virginia’s beautiful nature up until now. Certainly a mistake I plan to remedy in future years.

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan

For all of you passing through West Virginia, be sure to take some time to visit spectacular Cooper’s Rock State Forest.

It’s well worth the detour…

Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan
Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan
Cooper's Rock State Forest, West Virginia / Kimberly Sullivan