Kanawha State Forest a haven for hikers and mountain bikers

Experience nature’s beauty just minutes from the Capital City

Just 7 miles south of Charleston, Kanawha State Forest provides 9,300 acres of enjoyment for nature enthusiasts of all types. Established in 1937 as Camp Kanawha, it’s one of several state parks and forests built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Extensive trail network

More than 25 miles of trails wind through the forest’s hills and hollows and meander along stream beds, showcasing scenic overlooks, unique rock formations, wildflowers and a variety of wildlife. Steep, challenging trails will test the most skilled mountain biker, while easy, rolling trails are ideal for beginners. The forest also has a wheelchair-accessible interpretive trail.

With its extensive network of trails, Kanawha State Forest serves as a venue for several well-known trail and mountain biking races held throughout the year. The park service also hosts guided hikes on a variety of subjects, from bird watching to wildflowers. Trail maps are available at the park headquarters.

 “Two dogs take forever to get worn out but Kanawha State Forest sure does help. We haven’t walked the same trail as we start in one place and just make twists and turns. Maps are available and trails range from beginner to pro but they all offer great views and a fun time.”

— coacht2009, TripAdvisor reviewer from Charleston

Camping and picnicking

Kanawha State Forest’s campground is open April through December. It includes 46 sites, each with a fireplace and picnic table, and some with electricity and water hookups. Campground amenities include two bathhouses and a coin-operated laundry.

The forest also has a shooting range and a 2-acre pond stocked with trout, bass and bluegill. Properly licensed individuals are permitted to hunt and fish in season, in specified areas.

Additional park features include a nature center, nine reservable picnic shelters, game courts and several playgrounds. Five geocaches are hidden throughout the forest. 

“Kanawha State Forest is home to more than 19 different warblers which draw birders from all over the country as well as international visitors. It’s a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the world. I even had my wedding there a number of years ago!”

— Barbara M, TripAdvisor reviewer

Nearby attractions

Part of the West Virginia State Capitol Complex, the Culture Center houses an art museum, the State Museum of West Virginia and is a venue for West Virginia Public Radio’s “Mountain Stage with Larry Groce.”

The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in downtown Charleston houses a performance hall, art museum, hands-on science exhibits for kids, and a planetarium that doubles as a movie theater.

House in a renovated railyard and open year-round, the Capitol Market hosts local vendors carrying West Virginia-made products and food, a wine shop, coffee shop, fresh seafood and meats, and more.

Come escape those city lights and enjoy some time in nature at Kanawha State Forest. Here are your next steps!

  1. Plan a trip

    Whether you’re passing through the area or make a direct trip, Kanawha State Forest has plenty of trails and more to explore.

  2. Book your stay

    Pitch a tent! Kanawha State Forest’s campground is open through December this year.

  3. Make memories that last a lifetime

    Whether its a family picnic, a day full of mountain biking adventure, or just a simple walk through the park, we’re here for you to make memories with the ones you love.

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