Ansted, West Virginia

"Nestled in the heart of whitewater rafting country, Hawks Nest State Park encompasses 276 acres bordering a rugged section of the New River Gorge National River and known for the panoramic views.  The New River was designated an American Heritage River on July 30, 1998. There are currently fourteen American Heritage Rivers in the country.

The name of this area comes from the numerous osprey (some call them, “fish hawks”) that once nested on the cliffs.  Today, many hawks, turkey vultures,, black vultures and the occasional bald and golden eagles are seen soaring above the canyon. Additionally,  peregrine falcons study within New River Gorge National River has been part of a restoration program for the species.  

Below the 31-room lodge, built in 1967, the New River forms peaceful Hawks Nest Lake. Above the lake, the narrow canyon and rushing water create one of the most challenging whitewater boating waterways in the nation.

Hawks Nest State Park has welcomed visitors since the mid-1930s."

Hawk's Nest State Park and the Mill Creek Rail Trail.

I have visited this place many times and always look for new aspects of interest here, as it is quite a wonderful and beautiful place.

Hawks Nest Road and the Rail Trail, follow the Mill Creek down to the New River, just above the Hawk's Nest Dam. This is a public river access point, so expect to encounter pick ups pulling boats in and out on this narrow gravel road. Parking is available at the top of the rail trail and there is a rather large area at the bottom on the river.

The 1.8-mile Hawks Nest Rail Trail follows the path of a former Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad branch. It passes by several waterfalls along Mill Creek and an abandoned coal mine. The rail trail is a remnant of early mining operations. The Mill Creek mine at Fox Branch was in operation from 1921-1950 and it's entrance is visible from the road and as well as the trail.

Most people will come here just to see the main waterfall or to walk the rail trail. Of course, you can't go wrong just visiting those places, but there's a whole lot more here. Hawk's Nest Lodge is above on the hill and offers tram access up and down. There is also a really great overlook which offers a nice view of the New River. Here's a link to the state park website. This place would be a great hub for waterfalling in Fayette/Nicholas County. There are also a number of other nice trails in the area. Turkey Creek has several falls as well.

To access this area, follow US 60 from Gauley Bridge on the western end, or from US 19 on the eastern end at Hico, to the town of Ansted. The state park facilities are on US 60. Getting to the rail trail is a bit tricky if you've never been, and if they move the Rite Aid, it will be difficult. But, basically, there is a turn onto what looks like the entrance to a really tight parking area right in front of the Rite Aid store. Just at the front door of the store. Very sharp turn, especially coming from the west. Follow across the front of the store and around to the right, and when you get to an intersection, look back behind to your left. You'll see a tunnel that goes under US 60. That's where you want to go.

At the top of the road and the rail trail are several waterfalls, a mill ruin, and an old railroad trestle. To access the falls and the mill ruin, park in the pull offs just before the trestle. Begin to venture off to your left. You will find a trail that will take you down to creek level near the ruins of the mill. Upper Mill Creek Falls will be on your left, and Westlake Falls, just on the other side of the ruin to your right, with the trestle rather prominent. You can't miss that. You should be able to get in the creek here, unless it's a real gully washer.

One of the things that I like about the creek is it's sheer beauty no matter what season I am there. I always find something stunning here. I particularly like the area above the main falls. There are some really gorgeous creek scenes above the main falls.

I have also, recently, discovered another fair size waterfall on this creek. I have never seen anyone show an image of this falls before, though, I'm sure it's no big secret, as it's right beside the road. It's just hard to get to and hard to see.

So, further down from Mill Creek Falls, you will see, what I was told was a "powder shed". It's a brick structure about 6'x6' and not too tall with a sheet metal roof. This is where the hidden unnamed falls is. The falls might be beside the road, but you can only see it through trees and brush. Access at the falls is dubious at best. It's pretty steep and dangerous from the road side. It seems the best way to get to this falls is by creek walking about 50 yards from a pull off below the falls, which is just below the powder house on your left. It's a pretty big and obvious spot. Room for two anyway.

I'm thinking I might name this waterfall Powder Shed Falls if nobody complains. I doesn't seem to have a name. Not that it actually needs one, but for purposes of edification, we will name it thus. LOL

This might not be too easy to creek walk during any kind of high water. We crossed the creek immediately and went up the right side for awhile. There is no clear way, and the creek floor was covered in a thick layer of algae, which made walking treacherous.