About This Park

Located seven miles south of Charleston, Kanawha State Forest is an outdoor lover’s haven. It is known for its extensive network of hiking and biking trails and has some of the state’s most popular picnic areas. The 9,300-acre forest is noted among naturalists for its diverse wildflower, tree and bird populations. Amenities include picnic shelters, playgrounds and camping.

Kanawha State Forest

Things to Do

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

Browse Parks
Groups, Meetings and Weddings Rules & Regulations Download Park Pack & Map

History

The land that is now Kanawha State Forest originally was the site of extensive mining and logging. In 1937, the West Virginia Conservation Commission purchased 6,705 acres on the headwaters of Davis Creek outside of Charleston. The following year, Camp Kanawha was set up as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC removed coal tipples and other structures no longer in use and built roads, the superintendent’s residence and picnic shelters. A dam also was built across Davis Creek to create a small lake. After Camp Kanawha’s closure in 1942, the state acquired an additional 2,500 acres. The Kanawha State Forest Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Accommodations

Camping

Kanawha State Forest’s campground includes 46 sites, 25 of which have electricity and water hookups. Each campsite has a fireplace and picnic table. The campground has two bathhouses and a coin-operated laundry. RVs or trailer/truck units longer than 26 feet are not recommended. The campground is open April through December.

Trails

Foot traffic only

#1 Store Trail

This short trails starts near the first bathhouse in the campground and ends on Pine Ridge Trail. Non-campers can park at the campground entrance and hike to this trail.
Distance 0.25 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Alligator Rock Trail

This steep trail begins on Shrewsbury Hollow Road above the pool and ends on Middle Ridge Road.
Distance 0.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Beech Glen Trail

This trail starts in Polly Hollow and ascends to Wildcat Ridge Trail.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate

CCC Snipe Trail

This interpretive trail starts at the group camp area behind the pool and ends at Shrewsbury Hollow Road and Mossy Rock Trail.
Distance 0.75 miles
Difficulty Easy

Hemlock Falls Trail

This trail follows an old gas well road out of Polly Hollow and turns west to the Boundary Ridge Road.
Distance 0.75 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Johnson Hollow Trail

This trail starts behind Shelter #7 and ends at Middle Ridge Road.
Distance 0.75 miles
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Lindy Trail

This steep trail ascends from the shooting range road up to Middle Ridge Road near the top of Alligator Rock Trail.
Distance 0.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Logtown Trail

This trail begins behind Shelter #3 and ends on Middle Ridge Road.
Distance 0.75 miles
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Overlook Rock Trail

Overlook is a steep trail that starts just south of the pool and ends in #2 Store Hollow. The trail follows an access road and then turns south. Watch for this turn off or you will end up on the Old Boundary Road.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Polly Trail

This trail starts in Dunlop Hollow Picnic Area and can be accessed at the mouth of Polly Hollow. It runs up Polly Hollow and ends into Wildcat Ridge Trail.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Rattlesnake Trail

This trail starts near the main road at the mouth of Rattlesnake Hollow and ends approximately halfway up an access road.
Distance 1 mile
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Rocky Ridge Trail

This trail starts across from Shelter #5 parking lot and ends into Pigeon Roost Trail. A portion of the trail follows a ridge top gas well road. Follow trail blazes and watch for the turn off the road.
Distance 2 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Spotted Salamander Trail

This is a wheelchair-accessible interpretive trail across the road from the old barn.
Distance 0.25 miles
Difficulty Easy

White Hollow Trail

This trail starts on the southern end of Davis Creek Trail and ends across from Dunlop Hollow. A portion of this trail follows an access road so follow blazes carefully.
Distance 2 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Mountain bikes permitted

Ballard Trail

This trail starts on Middle Ridge Road and ends near the shooting range. A rocky overhang makes this trail a technical challenge for bikers.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Black Bear Mountain Bike Trail

This is a steep challenging downhill trail from Middle Ridge Road to Pigeon Roost Trail. Look for the right-hand alternative route around the steepest section, “Spectator Falls.”
Distance 1 mile
Difficulty Difficult

Davis Creek Trail

This fairly level trail begins at the footbridge below the lake and follows Davis Creek to Copperhead Rock below the stables. The trail can also be accessed from the forest office and the pool area.
Distance 2.5 miles
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Mossy Rock Trail

A moderate trail that goes from the head of Shrewsbury Hollow to Middle Ridge Road.
Distance 0.75 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Pigeon Roost Trail

This trail ascends Pigeon Roost Hollow up to the West Boundary Road.
Distance 0.75 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Pine Ridge Trail to Dunlop Trail

This trail begins on the C-26 Gas Well Road and ends in Dunlop Hollow. Bikers watch for signs: #1 Store Trail and the northern portion of Pine Ridge Trail are for hikers only.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Polecat Trail

This downhill trail splits off Ballard Trail very close to Middle Ridge Road and ends at the road to the Shooting Range.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate

Teaberry Rock Trail

The trail begins at Middle Ridge Road near gas well c-25 and ends into Davis Creek Trail. The Access trail splits off to Shrewsbury Hollow Road above pool area.
Distance 1.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Wildcat Ridge Trail

The trail begins on the west Boundary Ridge Road and runs between Polly and Dunlop Hollows descending into Dunlop Hollow Picnic area.
Distance 2 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult

Wildcat Ridge Trail

The trail begins on the west Boundary Ridge Road and runs between Polly and Dunlop Hollows descending into Dunlop Hollow Picnic area.
Distance 2 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult
Download Park Pack & Map

Additional Information

Shooting Range

A covered shooting range is open daily and is free to the public with only paper targets allowed. The range is open during daylight hours and subject to closure for maintenance.

Picnicking

The forest has numerous picnic sites with tables, grills and nearby restroom facilities. Nine picnic shelters are available to rent for a nominal fee; advance reservations are recommended for large groups.

Nearby Attractions

West Virginia State Capitol Complex

The Capitol Complex grounds include the Culture Center which houses an art museum and the State Museum of West Virginia. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Mountain Stage with Larry Groce” is often recorded at the Culture Center Theater.

Capitol Market

A collection of local vendors carry a variety of items at this renovated rail yard, including fresh produce, plants and flowers, handmade and homemade West Virginia products, wine and beer, a coffee shop, fresh seafood and meats, plus an on-site restaurant is on-site.

The Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences

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

Appalachian Power Park

This park in Charleston’s warehouse district is home to the West Virginia Power baseball team, a Class-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fun for the whole family is here, or make it a date at the on-site restaurant, Paterno’s at the Park.

 

Photos