About This Park
Nestled in the heart of whitewater rafting country, Hawks Nest State Park is a 270-acre recreational area with a nature museum, aerial tramway, jetboat rides, hiking trails and one of the most challenging whitewater boating waterways in the nation. Its 31-room lodge offers luxurious rooms, dining and spacious conference and meeting facilities. Located near Ansted in Fayette County, about 10 miles north of the New River Gorge Bridge, Hawks Nest is known for its scenic overlook, which provides a bird’s eye view of the rugged New River Gorge National River below.
Long before Hawks Nest became a state park, the area was a nesting ground for numerous osprey and the site of a trail used by Native Americans. In the late 1800s, the portion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway running through the gorge was completed, and scattered most of the birds inhabiting Hawks Nest’s cliffs. In 1934, the Hawks Nest Dam and lake were completed. At the time, they were used to generate hydroelectricity for the growing manufacturing industry and for flood control.
In 1935, the state of West Virginia purchased much of the property that is now Hawks Nest. In 1963, the Department of Natural Resources took control of the property and built the park lodge and other facilities that now draw visitors from nearly every state, to enjoy the scenic views of the New River Gorge.
Enjoy a meal as you take in the breathtaking views of the New River Gorge. The Vista Restaurant at Hawks Nest Lodge is open year-round and serves breakfast from 7-11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner from 5-9 p.m. Catering options for all meals are available for your next business meeting, family celebration or special event. To see a full menu, click here.
The trail starts behind the Midland Trail Shelter near the lodge and ends near the Hawks Nest Overlook at Route 60. Sections are rugged and adjacent to steep drop-offs. This is an excellent trail for viewing the geology of the New River Gorge, high Nutall sandstone cliffs and the waterfall of Turkey Creek. Hikers also will see the Hawks Nest Dam and Tunnel areas. To return to the lodge, cross Route 60 at the lower park, take the steps behind the gift shop to the old museum, walk the service road to the end, then cross Route 60 to the lodge. Use caution when crossing the highway and near all steep embankments. Children must be accompanied by an adult and pets must be leashed.
Distance: 1.7 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
The trail begins at the far end of the lake parking lot toward the Hawks Nest Dam and follows the lake, providing an excellent view of the dam. It ends at the Turkey Creek waterfall.
Distance: 0.5 miles (one way)
GSYP Canyon Trail
This steep, scenic trail begins at the lodge near the tennis court and descends to the New River near the aerial tram and nature center. It winds through a forest of mixed hardwoods, ferns, wildflowers and rock outcroppings. There are steps most of the way. During the tram season, you can pay half price for a one-way ticket to return to the lodge. (Note: the tram is closed every Wednesday.)
Distance: 0.75 miles (one way)
Hawks Nest Overlook
The short, paved path starts at the parking area a quarter-mile downhill from the lodge and takes you to the overlook for a panoramic view of the New River, the Hawks Nest Tunnel area and surrounding mountains. The overlook was built from local sandstone in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has been improved to ADA standards.
Distance: 80 yards (loop)
Hawks Nest Rail Trail
This gravel trail begins behind the nature center, follows Mill Creek and ends near Ansted. Two bridges, waterfalls and the remains of a coal mine that operated through the 1920’s can be seen along this slightly uphill trail that once was a railway for coal cars. There is no trail fee, but a ticket must be purchased when accessing the trail by aerial tram from the nature center. Bicycles are permitted. The trail is maintained by the town of Ansted and volunteers.
Distance: 1.8 miles (one way)
Lovers Leap Trail
The trail begins at the tram office behind the lodge and ends at a rock outcropping with steps most of the way. Local legend has it that Lover’s Leap was the scene of a tragic suicide between an Indian brave and a maiden who fell in love but were forbidden to marry. The overlook offers sweeping views of the New River and the marina.
Distance: 100 yards (one way)
Park Loop Trail
The trail circles through a wooded area behind the shelter. Downed trees obscure the center section of the trail. Many wildflowers can be seen in the spring.
Distance: 0.5 miles