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Hiking

Trails at Hawks Nest State Park are open for hiking throughout the year, as weather permits.

Hawks Nest Rail Trail
1.8 miles.  One way.  Easy.
This gravel trail begins behind the Nature Center, follows Mill Creek, and ends near the town of Ansted.  Two bridges, waterfalls, and remains of a coal mine that operated through the 1920s can be seen along this trail that was once a railway for coal trains.    No trail fee.  When accessing from Nature Center via tram, ticket for tram must be purchased.  Slight uphill grade.  Bicycles are permitted.  Hawks Nest Rail Trail  is maintained by the town of Ansted and volunteers. 

Cliffside Trail
1.75 miles.
  Moderate to Difficult.
Trail starts behind the Midland Trail Shelter near the Lodge and ends near the Hawks Nest Overlook.  Sections of the trail are rugged and adjacent to steep drop offs.  An excellent trail for viewing the geology of the New River Gorge, high Nutall sandstone cliffs, and waterfalls of Turkey Creek. Views of the Hawks Nest Dam and Tunnel area.  Ends at Rt. 60 near Overlook.  To return to the Lodge, cross Rt. 60 at the Lower Park, take the steps behind the gift shop to the old museum, and then walk the service road to the end.  Cross Rt. 60 at end of the service road to the Lodge.  Use caution when crossing Rt. 60 and near all steep embankments.  Children must be accompanied by an adult and pets must be leashed.   

Park Loop Trail
0.5 mile. 
Easy.
Trail circles through a wooded area behind the shelter and returns to the starting point.  Downed trees obscure trail in the center section.  Many spring wildflowers visible near trail.

Fisherman’s Trail
0.5 mile. 
One way.  Easy.
This trail begins at the far end of the lake parking lot towards the Hawks Nest Dam.  It follows the north side of the Hawks Nest Lake and has an excellent view of the dam.  Trail ends near Turkey Creek Waterfall.   

GSYP Canyon Trail
0.75 miles. 
One way.  Moderate.
This steep, scenic trail from the lodge to the New River begins at the Tennis Court and descends to the New River near the tram and nature center.  The trail begins atop the ridge and winds down through a forest of mixed hardwoods, ferns, wildflowers, and rock outcroppings.  There are steps most of the way.  During the season, you can pay half price for a one way tram ticket to return to the Lodge.  (Note: Tram is closed every Wednesday).

Hawks Nest Overlook
About 80 yards.
  Loop.  Easy.
¼ down hill from the lodge (across the street from the large Lower Park Shelter) is the parking area for the Hawks Nest Overlook.  Take this short paved path to the Hawks Nest Overlook for a panoramic view of the New River, Hawks Nest Tunnel area, and surrounding mountains.  The overlook was constructed in the mid 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from local sandstone.  Improvements will be made in the summer of 2012 to provide for improved ADA accessibility.  

Lover’s Leap Trail
100 yards. 
One way.  Moderate.
Trail begins at the Tram Office behind the Lodge and ends at a rock outcropping.  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 maiden who fell in love but were forbidden to marry.  Overlook offers sweeping views of the New River and marina.  Take your time on the uphill return trip.  

Hiking Know How at Hawks Nest State Park
When hiking at Hawks Nest State Park, be sure to wear sturdy close-toed shoes, bring water, and take reasonable steps to ensure you return well before dark.   Feel free to leave your trip plans with our Front Desk.   If you are walking the Fisherman’s Trail, Hawks Nest Rail Trail, or GSYP Trail, and intend to return to the lodge via the aerial tram, be sure that you will have time to return to the tram before closing.  All plants, animals, and artifacts within the park boundary are protected by law and cannot be damaged, removed, or destroyed by park visitors.  

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