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Hawks Nest State Park


Famous for its scenic beauty since Chief Justice John Marshall visited the area in 1812, Hawks Nest State Park occupies cliffs, streams, and a lake formed by damming the New River in 1934. The park sits on both sides of U.S. 60, just west of Ansted.

The four-story lodge, designed by Walter Gropius’s architectural firm, perches on a cliff 750 feet above the river. Most of the 31 guest rooms have balconies overlooking the gorge. The lodge has a meeting room, spacious lobby with a fireplace, gift shop, outdoor pool, and an elevator. The restaurant has a wide, two-story window wall facing the gorge. Nearby are tennis courts and a picnic pavilion.

Visitors may take an aerial tram from behind the lodge down to Hawks Nest Lake. At the river level are a snack shop, nature center, restrooms, boat ramps, and a boat rental shop. The tram is currently closed for renovation and/or replacement and is expected to reopen in 2024.

The park gets its name from ospreys, the fish hawks that ride the thermals between the high cliffs previously known as Marshall’s Pillars.

The state bought the park lands in 1935, and the Civilian Conservation Corps made improvements including a picnic shelter, snack and souvenir shop, museum, and restrooms. In the early 2000s, the museum, which holds pioneer artifacts, was relocated to the nearby Ansted city hall. A golf course was added to the park in 1999, when the state acquired the previously private Hawks Nest Country Club; the nine-hole course had been built for local Union Carbide employees in 1932. It is now permanently closed.

Of the CCC’s original work, the picnic shelter, shop, and restrooms remain in use. The unique stone restrooms across Route 60 from the main overlook are shaped like round towers. Near the lodge is the Lovers Leap overlook, and at the park’s western edge lies a second overlook with easier access.

Written by Maureen F. Crockett