Hawks Nest State Park
Description: This impressive state park offers commanding views of the New River Gorge and Hawks Nest Lake in addition to numerous wildlife. The area has characteristics of river floodplain habitat with oak-hickory forests surrounded by high rock cliffs.
Viewing Information: Start at the Hawks Nest Overlook to look for, appropriately, hawks. Red-tailed hawks can often be seen in summer during the warmer parts of the day as they catch a free ride along the wind currents over the canyon. Make your way to the lake and river to look for common loons, blue herons and belted kingfishers, which may be seen perched near or hovering above the water, ready to seize an unwary fish.
Kingfishers are easily identified by their big head, big bill and head crest. Females have brown breastbands which males lack. Throughout the park in summer, look for eastern bluebirds, Baltimore orioles, and scarlet tanagers. On sunny days you might see one of the park's many species of reptiles: black rat snakes, northern fence lizards, or five-lined and broadhead skinks.
Directions: From the junction of U.S.19 and U.S. 60, travel west on U.S. 60 for 7.7 miles to the park entrance. The park is on the south side of U.S. 60.
Ownership: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (304) 658-5212
Size: 276 acres
Closest Town: Ansted
Excerpt from the WV Wildlife Viewing Guide by Mark Damian Duda. Available from the DNR and bookstores throughout the state.