A leisurely stroll along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail

With the warm weather approaching, I no longer have excuses for not getting outdoors.  It’s true that this winter has been a hard one and I’ve been preoccupied with moving into a new house, starting a new job, and writing paper after paper for my grad classes — but still, it’s been way too long since I’ve spent the day outside.  So to remedy this, Jon and I went on a leisurely hike/geocaching trip along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail.

Beginning in the town of Ansted, the Hawks Nest Rail Trail follows Mill Creek down to where it meets the New River at the base of Hawks Nest State Park. The entire length of the trail is nearly 4 miles (1.9 down; 1.9 back) and is a steady gradual decline/incline.  This makes it ideal for bikers, walkers, runners, and even children.  Perhaps the only threat you’ll have to watch for is mud, especially if you go after a rainstorm as we did.  Along the way, you’ll be privy to waterfalls, bridges, and wildlife that help distinguish this trail from others in the area.  Remains of the Mill Creek Colliery Mining Company that operated through the 1920s can also be seen along this trail, as it was once an actual railway.  For more information on the history of mining operations along the trail, take a look at this website.

The official start of the trail

The official start of the trail

The trail follows Mill Creek down to the New River

The trail follows Mill Creek down to the New River

Old mine entrance

Old mine entrance

At the base of the trail, you’ll stumble upon the lower grounds of Hawks Nest State Park where the aerial tram is.  Because it’s still early April, nothing was open so our only way of getting back up was the way we came.  However in the summer months when the tram is operating, you can pay to ride the tram up to the lodge for $3 – $4.  However, please note that if you parked at the beginning of the trail in Ansted, you won’t be anywhere near your car once you make it to the lodge.  While down at the base, you’ll also see the launching dock for the New River Jetboat, which is a fun ride from Hawks Nest to the New River Gorge Bridge.  I’ve been on the jetboat once years ago and plan to go again this summer so if anyone would like to see a post about that, let me know!


Hawks Nest Lodge and Lovers Leap Overlook as seen from the base

Hawks Nest State Park’s Lodge and Lovers Leap Overlook as seen from the base

If you’re into geocaching, there are also two geocaches located along the trail.  The first you’ll encounter is the Coal Heritage Geotrail #1 (GC260JM), approximately .4 miles from the official start of the trailhead.  This one is an easy find and a large ammo can — my favorite!  If you continue along, the second geocache you’ll come across is Scouts Stash (GC29T3M).  This is another easy one, however if the river is up like it was when we visited, you’ll want to use caution with children to ensure they don’t venture out onto the rocks in the creek.  I won’t give too much away in terms of spoilers, but the location of this cache is not somewhere where you want to fall down.

We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon spent along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail and I encourage you to check it out next time you’re in the area.  It’s a beautiful sight and easy enough that virtually anyone in the family can utilize it.  For more information about the Hawks Nest Rail Trail, please visit the Hawks Nest State Park website.

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)

November: State Parks Style

I can’t believe that we are halfway through November.  Seriously, where did the month go?  And on that note, what happened to fall?  Since starting back as a grad student, my sense of time has been severely warped.  I am now back on a college semester schedule and although I am excited I only have three weeks of classes left, I forget that also means that the year is nearly over.

November?  What’s that?

Just because we’re 1.5 months away from 2014 doesn’t mean that we still can’t enjoy what is left of November and the Thanksgiving season.  And one way you can really enjoy the rest of this month is by visiting one of West Virginia’s State Parks!  Here’s a brief list of events that are going on in November.  For a full list, you may visit the WVSP website.

“Trees of our Heritage: A Sunday Open House” at Blennerhassett State Park
November 17, 2013
Join us for the opening day of Trees of our Heritage decoration.  From 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., visit the museum while enjoying refreshments and entertainment.  Trees are decorated to depict different cultures and countries.  Admission to the museum is $2.  Open to the public.
Blennerhasset State Park Website

“November Bird of the Month: the Wild Turkey” at Kanawha State Forest
November 17, 2013
Join Forest Naturalist Sara Miller and Master Naturalist Lynn Hartman for the November Bird of the Month, the Wild Turkey.  Come join them at this month’s program to learn more and to create a turkey craft of your own to take home.  Open to all ages.  For more information, call 304-558-3500.
Kanawha State Forest Website

“Model Train Show” at Stonewall Resort State Park
November 29 – 30, 2013
Enjoy a large interactive Model Train Display at Stonewall Resort presented by the Clarksburg Area Model Railroad Club.
Stonewall Resort’s Website

“Small Business Saturday” at Hawks Nest State Park
November 30, 2013
“Small Business Saturday” is November 30 and at Hawks Nest State Park Lodge Gift Shop, purchases are 20% off.  Support local artisans and the park system by participating in Small business Saturday.  Gift shop hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
Hawks Nest State Park Website

“Wreath Workshop” at Prickett’s Fort State Park
November 30, 2013
An annual workshop hosted by the Marion County Master Gardeners allows participants to make their own holiday wreath from a wide variety of fresh greens.
Prickett’s Fort State Park Website

Not only are there several events the last half of the month but it’s also a great time to stay overnight in a park thanks to winter discounts.  Many parks are offering mid-week discounts (Sunday – Thursday) and some are even offering discounts for military members.  You can find a full list of discounts and packages on their website but here’s a couple to consider:

Pipestem State Park’s “Last Chance Recreation” Package
Receive 30% off standard rates for lodge rooms and/or cottages for two or more nights.
Valid October 27 – December 23, 2013 (Sunday through Thursday only; exludes November 27 and 28)
Pipestem State Park Website

Tygart Lake State Park’s “Third Night Free” Promotion
When visiting Tygart Lake State Park for a minimum of three nights, stay two consecutive nights in our lodge or cottages at normal rates and receive the third night free.  Applies only to online reservations.  Use discount code: 3RDNF
Valid through December 19, 2013; Sunday through Thursday nights only.
Tygart Lake State Park Website

Do you have a favorite State Park you like to visit this time of year?  If so, comment and let me know!

Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)