About This Park

Set on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon, the 156-acre Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is an important Civil War battle site. The park is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail, which links more than 300 historical sites in 16 states, and commemorates the 1861 Battle of Carnifex Ferry, a major Union victory that led to the eventual Confederate withdrawal from western Virginia. Carnifex Ferry is one of the oldest state parks in the United States and is a popular site for Civil War reenactments.

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park

Things to Do

  • 859
    Fishing
  • Geocaching
  • Museums & Historical Sites
  • Outdoor Adventures
  • 859
    Rafting
859 attraction is located outside of the park.

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History

Nestled on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon near Summersville, West Virginia, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is an important Civil War battle site. On September 10, 1861 Union troops led by Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans engaged the Confederates and forced them to evacuate an entrenched position on the Henry Patterson Farm which overlooked Carnifex Ferry. The Confederate commander, Brigadier General John B. Floyd, retreated across the ferry to the south side of the Gauley River and on eastward to Meadow Bluff near Lewisburg. This Civil War battle represented the failure of a Confederate drive to regain control of the Kanawha Valley. As a result, the movement for West Virginia statehood proceeded without serious threat from the Confederates.

Today, Carnifex Ferry is recognized as part of The Civil War Discovery Trail which links more than 300 sites in 16 states to inspire and to teach the story of the Civil War and its haunting impact on America. The Trail, an initiative of the Civil War Trust, allows visitors to explore battlefields, historic homes, railroad stations, cemeteries, parks and other destinations that bring history to life.

Trails

Old Ferry Road

A short section of Old Ferry Road is on state property. The road was used by Confederate Gen. Floyd during his retreat off the mountain to Carnifex Ferry.
Distance 0.3 Miles
Difficulty Moderate

Patterson Trail

This trail forms a loop around the park and can be accessed from several locations. Highlights include three overlooks of the Gauley River.
Distance 2 miles
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Pierson Hollow Trail

This trail branches off the Patterson Trail across the road from the Patterson House Museum. The trail passes through a stand of mature trees before ending.
Distance 0.6 miles
Difficulty Easy to moderate
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Additional Information

Picnicking

Time for a picnic! Park amenities include picnic facilities with tables and grills, four reservable group shelters, restrooms, playground equipment, softball and volleyball areas and horseshoe pits.

Nearby Attractions

Adventures on the Gorge

This popular New River Gorge resort has been a family favorite since 1972. Whitewater rafting, zip lining, and guided hiking are just some of the recreational trips you can try.

Babcock State Park

Home of the iconic Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park amenities include camping, cabin lodging, and 20 miles of hiking trails — many with scenic overlooks of the beautiful New River Gorge.

Camp Washington Carver

Established in 1942 as a 4-H camp for African-American youth, Camp Washington Carver is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the state’s mountain cultural arts center. It is the venue for the Appalachian String Band Festival, an annual gathering of thousands of musicians and string band lovers from around the world.

Gauley River National Recreation Area

This national recreation area protects 25 miles of the Gauley River and 6 miles of the Meadow River, both of which wind through scenic gorges and valleys. Every fall, water released from the Summersville Dam creates Class V+ rapids on the Gauley, making it a favorite among whitewater enthusiasts.

Hawks Nest State Park

Hawks Nest, fully equipped with a lodge and restaurant, is known for its scenic overlooks of the New River Gorge. Visitors can ride the aerial tramway to the bottom of the gorge and ride a jetboat to the base of the New River Gorge Bridge.

 

New River Gorge National River

This area encompasses more than 70,000 acres of land along the New River — one of the oldest rivers in North America. The rugged mountains were once home to several coal mining camps, and some historical artifacts and buildings remain. Recreational opportunities include whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking and rock climbing.

New River Gorge Bridge and Visitor Center

The 876-foot-high single-span steel arch bridge is the centerpiece of Bridge Day, an annual festival during which BASE jumpers are permitted to parachute off the bridge. The Canyon Rim Visitor Center on U.S. 19 just north of Fayetteville features an exhibit room and two observation decks which offer unobstructed views of the bridge.

 

Summersville Lake

Plunge into the clearest water east of the Mississippi. Known as the “Little Bahamas of the East,” this exotic lake is a popular spot for boating, swimming, scuba diving, and stand-up paddle boarding. It’s also West Virginia’s largest lake, with 60 miles of shoreline.

 

Photos