Hawks Nest State Park covers more than 276 acres, and borders a section of the New River Gorge National River. Hawks Nest has sweeping views of the New River Gorge, and if you are at the Hawks Nest Lodge, you can catch views of the iconic New River Gorge Bridge. The park has incredible hiking trails, whitewater, and flatwater paddling in peaceful Hawks Nest Lake, which was created by a dam along the New River.
What Makes It Great
The water on the lake is usually predictable and calm. The same can be said for the 1-2 miles of river upstream from the lake, which makes it a fun spot to explore. After a decent rain, the water in the river moves faster, and provides a bit more activity for paddlers who like a little action. If you’re a more experienced paddler, use Hawks Nest Lake as a warm up, then continue on to the New River, “one of the most challenging wildwater boating waterways in the nation,” according to America’s State Parks. With varying conditions between the lake and the areas upstream, Hawks Nest State Park is a great destination for all skill levels.
Hawks Nest State Park is known for its panoramic views of the valleys and hills that surround the New River Gorge National River. There’s plenty of wildlife, and people spot bald eagles pretty often. Lots of paddlers take advantage of the opportunity to fish for bass or catfish in the New River and Hawks Nest Lake.
Hawks Nest is also well-known for its aerial tramway, which will take you from the top of the canyon at the lodge to the bottom of the New River Gorge. The aerial tram gives you a bird’s eye view of the surrounding areas, and once you’re at the bottom, you can take a Hawks Nest’s jetboat ride on the New River.
Who is Going to Love It
Hawks Nest Lake is perfect for beginners because it’s incredibly predictable and doesn’t fluctuate more than 12 inches at any time of the year. In fact, John Bracken, Hawks Nest’s superintendent, said he’s seen more and more folks learning on the lake, with more experienced paddlers guiding them along the peaceful waters, and teaching them the fundamentals of paddling. The calm, predictable nature of the lake also makes it great for families.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The entrance to Hawks Nest State Park is right along on the Midland Trail Scenic Highway (U.S. Route 60). It’s just 1 hour east of Charleston (via I-64), and 8 miles west of State Route 19.
To get to Hawks Nest Lake, you have to take a one-way gravel road. Once you get to the state park, swing by the lodge to get a map to the parking area and put-in for Hawks Nest Lake. There are 15-18 spots for boat trailers in the parking area.