Kanawha State Forest, situated just outside Charleston, WV, is a haven for mountain biking enthusiasts. Offering a robust network of trails that stretch over 10 miles, the park's 1,000-foot elevation gain serves up a menu of challenges that range from technical rock sections to tricky downhills. While designed with intermediate and advanced riders in mind, the park offers something for everyone.
To reach Kanawha State Forest from Charleston, take Exit 58A from I-64, head south on US 119 for a little over a mile, then turn left onto Oakwood Road at the second stoplight. Brown and white signs for Kanawha State Forest will guide you. For trail details, it's advisable to download and print the PDF map available on the forest's website.
The trail system offers a plethora of choices, including the rocky and challenging Ballard Trail, the flowy Middle Ridge Trail, and the treacherous downhills of Black Bear. Several trails like Mossy Rock and Hoffman Hollow serve as popular climbs, while others, including Polecat and Teaberry Rock, are best tackled downhill.
Although it's rated as difficult, it seems the local riders have a different view. To them, this is a staple where many have honed their skills. It's a challenging course but quite navigable for those accustomed to Appalachian terrains.
The forest also features a camping site and a public pool, catering to riders from out of town or anyone looking to make a weekend of it.
Don't underestimate Kanawha State Forest. If you're new, it may be helpful to ride along with locals for the first few times. The trails offer a variety of difficulties, and the forest itself adds an extra layer of challenge with its rocks and roots. Overall, it’s a must-ride for anyone seeking the authentic West Virginia mountain biking experience.