Kanawha State Forest - Hiking

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The Kanawha State Forest, one of Charleston’s largest parks just miles from the center of the city, has more than 25 miles of hiking trails through scenic wooded areas.

Written by

Chase Gunnoe


25.0 miles

Some trails are shorter, but most are between 1-2 miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

5.1 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Most trails are easy to moderate hiking and also easy-to-navigate, though there are some trails that skirt along ridge lines, making them a bit more steep.

Time To Complete

1 hours

You can hike most trails in this park in a little more than an hour.


All Seasons

The forest is open year-round, but there can be snowy conditions in the winter. Spring and fall have the best weather.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits


Land Website

Kanawha State Forest



The Kanawha State Forest is one of Charleston’s largest parks, just minutes from the center of West Virginia’s capital city. Because of its convenient location, it is great for an afternoon visit, a wonderful place to take the family or pets, or the ideal spot for a quick workout in between business meetings. With more than 25 miles of trails, you are sure to find something no matter what your experience level.

What Makes It Great

Kanawha State Forest is a great place to visit if you want to get outdoors while spending time in Charleston. Most of the trails at this park are easy to moderate and well kept. Many of the trails, including the Overlook Rock Trail, Lindy Trail, and Rocky Ridge trail, have steep climbs, but the trail itself is either dirt or stone the whole way. Most hikes are less than 2 miles long, with the majority hitting around 1 mile. These shorter distances make Kanawha State Forest a great place to visit for an afternoon adventure.

The Rocky Ridge Trail is one of the most physically demanding hikes on park grounds. You will find moderate-to-steep climbs through beautiful wooded areas on this short but challenging stretch. The 2-mile trail begins at Shelter #5 and follows a utility access road along the ridge of the mountain. This is a great one to explore in mid-to-late October if you love vibrant fall colors.

Even though the forest is only a few miles from downtown, it’s home to dozens of animals, as well as a wide range of trees and flowers.

Who is Going to Love It

Kanawha State Forest is extremely popular among people who like hiking in the outdoors, but are not experts. Most of the trails are on the shorter side and take about an hour to finish. The park also has several picnic shelters, so this park ideal for families and groups.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The park is easy to find, at 7500 Kanawha State Forest Drive in Charleston. There is plenty of parking at most trailheads.

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Kanawha State Forest

7500 Kanawha State Forest Drive
Charleston, West Virginia, 25314
38.2814, -81.6417

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