What to do in Kanawha State Forest

**Information provivded by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources**

Located just seven miles south of Charleston, West Virginia, this forest's close proximity to the heavily populated Kanawha Valley has made it a recreational haven. Some of the state's most popular picnic areas are here, along with significant hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing opportunities. Kanawha's swimming pool and playground attract families during the summer season, and the fully equipped campground is one of the few in the Charleston area.The 9,300-acre forest is noted among naturalists for its diverse wildflower and bird populations. Rich cove forest sites provide nesting habitat for 19 species of wood warblers, a feature which draws birders from as far away as Canada.


Overnight visitors enjoy the forest's 46-site, fully equipped camping area. The campground is served by two bathhouses and coin-operated laundry facilities. All sites have fireplaces and picnic tables. In addition, 25 sites feature electricity and water hookups. Firewood and ice are available. A dump station is available for campground guests.

campground at kanawha state forestThe campground is open from mid-April to the end of October (weather permitting). Only one tent or trailer is allowed per site and check-out time is 12 noon. An attendant is on duty from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily. Campers may select a site that is not taken or reserved and the attendant will stop by and register you.

Reservations are only being accepted for periods that include a major holiday, two day minimum.

2005 RATES:

Campsites without water and electric:
$15.00 per night

Campsites with water and electric:
$19.00 per night

Senior citizens (60 or older w/verification receive a 10% discount).

Each additional camper over six (maximum of ten people per site) is $2.00 each per night.

SwimmingThe popular swimming pool is open beginningMemorial Day weekend to Labor Day.

Mountain biking is permitted on certain trails, trail maps are available at the Forest office. Click Here for trail descriptions.Call or come by the office at Kanawha State Forest to get a color 8 1/2 x 11 Topo map.


More than 25 miles of trails provide a challenge for even the serious hiker. Included is "The Spotted Salamander" trail, a paved, level walkway with braille interpretive nature stations designed for both visually impaired and physically challenged guests. Click Here for hiking trail descriptions.

Picnicing and family outings at Kanawha State Forest, West Virginia Picnicking

Numerous picnic sites and nine reservable shelters are provided for the enjoyment of visitors. These sites offer tables, grills, and nearby bathroom facilities.

Horseback Riding

Not Available at this time.


Children's playgrounds are located throughout the forest and in the various picnic areas.


Properly licensed individuals are welcome to hunt or fish in-season, in specified areas. No hunting zones surround all forest recreational facilites. Fishing opportunities are available at the two-acre Ellison Pond. Fishing is restricted to children 10 years of age and under and Class Q license holders from March 1 through May 31. The remainder of the year is open to anyone properly licensed. The pond is stocked with trout, bass and bluegill. Other neaby fishing areas include: Kanawha River, Ridenour Park, Coonskin Park and Wine Cellar Park.

shooting range available to park guests and community at Kanawha State Forest Shooting range

The shooting range provides covered shooting stalls for convenience of users. Only paper targets are allowed. The forest range is open daily and is free to the public.

Nearby Attractions:

# State Capitol, Governor's Mansion, Cultural Center with State Museum# "Mountain Stage" live radio show# Charleston East End Historical District# Charleston Town Center Mall# P.A. Denny Sternwheeler# Sunrise Museum (art gallery/children's museum)# Tri-State Greyhound Park# Charleston Sternwheel Regatta (late August)# Antique Malls (South Charleston and Nitro)

Mountain Biking

Must have Adobe Acrobat Reader for download and print.The following trails are available for mountain bikers throughout the year:

Black Bear Mt. Bike Trail- 1 mile. 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".

Davis Creek Trail- 2 1/2 miles. Fairly level trail beginning at the footbridge below the lake and following Davis Creek to Copperhead Rock below the stables. The trail can also be accessed from the forest office and the pool area. Easy with moderate sections.

Enjoy miles of trails of mountain biking in West Virginia's Kanawha State Forest Mossy Rock Trail- 3/4 mile. A moderate trail that goes from the head of Shrewsbury Hollow to Middle Ridge Road.

Pigeon Roost Trail- 3/4 mile. A moderate trail ascending Pigeon Roost Hollow up to the West Boundary Road.

Pine Ridge Trail to Dunlop Trail- 1 1/2 miles. 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. Moderate with difficult sections.

Polecat Trail- 1 1/2 miles. This downhill trail splits off of Ballard Trail very close to Middle Ridge Road and ends at the road to the Shooting Range. Moderate.

Teaberry Rock Trail- 1 1/2 mile. 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. Moderate with difficult sections.

Wildcat Ridge Trail- 2 miles. The trail begins on the west Boundary Ridge Road and runs between Polly and Dunlop Hollows descending into Dunlop Hollow Picnic area. Moderate with some difficult switchbacks.

From I-64 in Charleston, take Exit 58A, drive south on US 119. Turn left onto Oakwood Rd. at the second stop light, (following the brown and white routing signs)go 3/4 mile and take a left before George Washington High School continuing on Oakwood Road, turn right onto Bridge Rd., and right onto Connell Rd. At the bottom of Connell, make a sharp left onto Kanawha Forest Drive, follow to the forest entrance.

West Virginia experiences four distinct seasons, none of which are extreme. Temperatures in the highlands of the Allegheny Mountains are somewhat more severe than the rest of the state. Generally temperatures during the winter months range from 15 to 40 degrees F. Ample snow accumulation provides for cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities. Spring brings blooming trees and shrubs to the forested regions of the state, as well as warmer temperatures. During this season, March through May, expect mild temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees F. Summers are normally hot with high humidity, especially at lower elevations. Expect temperatures to range from 70 at night to 95 during the dog days of August. Fall brings cool, crisp air to West Virginia and spectacular foliage color changes. Bring a light jacket for this season, which brings temperatures between 35, at night, to 70 degrees F, during the day.

Rt. 2 Box 285
Charleston, WV 25314

Phone: 304-558-3500

Email: kanawhastateforest1@earthlink.net
  • Kanawha State Forest Travel Q&A