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 just 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 Park and Preserve below.

With New River Jet Boats you will be able to enjoy the stunning views of the New River Gorge from the comfort of a jet boat. From an open-air six-passenger jet boat to a covered 16-passenger one, there is a boat ride that will get you cruising on the New River. Learn more: wvstateparks.com/jet-boats.

The aerial tramway is currently closed for replacement.


Select an option below to learn more about the accommodations at this park.


Select an activity below to learn more
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Museums & Historical Sites
  • Outdoor Adventures
  • Rafting
  • Swimming
Attraction is located outside of the park.


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.


Dine surrounded by breathtaking views of the New River Gorge at The Overlook restaurant at Hawks Nest State Park. The Overlook restaurant is open year-round and is open on these days and hours:

Daily: 7-11 a.m.

11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 6:00 p.m. or Dinner Menu all day.

5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 6:00 p.m. or Dinner Menu all day.



Download Park Trail Map

Cliffside Trail

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

Fisherman’s Trail

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 Route 16 at Cotton Hill.

Distance: 0.5 miles (one way)

Difficulty: Easy

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: 0.4 miles (one way)

Difficulty: Moderate

Hawks Nest Lake Trail

The Hawks Nest Lake trail connects the Cliffside Trail to the Fisherman’s Trail.  It provides an excellent view of the New River Gorge and the Nuttall Sandstone Cliffs.  Children must be accompanied by adults and pets must be leashed.

Distance: 232 yards

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

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)

Difficulty: Easy

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: 1.9 miles (one way)

Difficulty: Easy

Lovers Leap Trail

Sorry to note, this trail and the Historic Area Pavilion are temporarily closed due to extensive storm damage.

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)

Difficulty: Moderate

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: 0.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy