Day Trip Guide to West Virginia State Parks

Overnight stays and summer vacations are a great way to enjoy West Virginia’s state parks and forests, but don’t forget about all of the great things our day-use parks have to offer. From picnic facilities to hiking trails and fishing lakes, there’s plenty for your family to enjoy on a day trip to one of these parks. Here are a few day-use parks you should visit this summer.

Beartown and Droop Mountain Battlefield state parks

Kids will love the half-mile boardwalk (there are some steps) that winds through the moss-covered boulders of Beartown State Park. If you use your imagination, you can almost picture a bear slumbering in one of those caves or crevasses. While you’re in the area, plan a stop at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park. This site of a famous Civil War battle features a lookout tower, historic artifacts, and some hiking trails easy enough for the little ones.

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is the ideal spot for a family get-together. Not only does it offer picturesque views of the Gauley River, but the road to the park also passes a scenic overlook of Summersville Lake. This important Civil War site features the restored Patterson house and museum, picnic facilities with playground equipment and game courts, and easy to moderate trails, winding through the park and along the canyon rim above the river.

Cathedral State Park

Stroll through towering old-growth forest at Cathedral State Park. The kids will be so enthralled they might not even realize they’re learning science: Aside from its natural beauty, Cathedral offers an opportunity to observe one of the largest strands of virgin hemlock in West Virginia. The park has a picnic area with a playground and several easy to moderate trails.

Pinnacle Rock State Park

The highlight of Pinnacle Rock State Park is the 3,100-foot sandstone formation that juts out through the trees. A scenic overlook rewards the visitor who climbs the steps to the top of the rock. With hiking trails, picnic areas and a playground, this roadside park makes a great place to stop. But the hidden gem here is its 15-acre Jimmy Lewis Lake, which is seasonally stocked with trout for anglers (proper fishing license and stamps are required and may be purchased online at

Watters Smith Memorial State Park

A visit to Watters Smith Memorial State Park is like traveling back to the late 18th century, when Watters Smith and his wife Elizabeth settled the land. Today, a reconstructed, hand-hewn log cabin serves as one of two museums depicting pioneer life in Almost Heaven. The park is a popular spot for birdwatching and mountain biking. It has a large picnic area equipped with game courts.

Follow these tips for a great experience! 

Help keep our parks safe and clean! Dogs are welcome in state parks and forests, but please leash your pets and clean up after them. If you’re looking to stay longer than a day, you’re sure to find a park that offers overnight lodging nearby. Start planning your Almost Heaven getaway today! 

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