CCC Trail at Kanawha State Forest

Photo by Michelle Tabor, 2017

A trip to Cabella's turned into a hike at Kanawha State Forest in 35 degree weather!

Located just seven miles south of Charleston, West Virginia, Kanawha State Forest is in close proximity to the heavily populated Kanawha Valley and is a recreational haven. Some of the state's most popular picnic areas are here, along with significant hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing opportunities.
The 9,300-acre forest is noted among naturalists for its diverse wildflower and bird populations. Rich cove forest sites provide nesting habitat for 19 species of wood warblers, a feature which draws birders from as far away as Canada. The forest offers some of West Virginia’s best special hikes in winter, spring and fall.

The small sign on Corridor G drew us in, the crazy skinny winding residential road kept us going, but the trout lake sealed the deal. We were supposed to be visiting Cabela's in search of an adapter kit for our Sawyer water filter, and we ended up on a trail in a park we had never visited before.

It seems that a thunder storm had hit the place days before our visit. There were fallen trees, freshly cut from the road, and low hanging power lines, the buildings were boarded up, if for winter or for storm protect, I couldn't tell, the plywood seemed new.

We stopped at the "forest office", a 10'x12' wooden shack, and picked up a trail map. KSF has over 25 miles of various trails, all winding through the forest. Many are easy 1/4 mile connectors, others are long winding adventures. While the after effects of the recent storm, the dinky facilities, and the freezing weather made us feel that we may have stumbled into the 1970s, it didn't deter us from picking a trail to explore. After reading through our options, the CCC Snipe Trail stood out for it's shortness only 3/4 mile (so 1.5 miles out and back) and it's interpretive nature.

CCC Snipe Trail is an interpretive trail, meaning there are signs along the path, pointing out significant historical events, unique rock forms, and the history of the trail. The forest used to be the site of a coal mine, which are prevalent in West Virginia. This particular coal mine was closed in the 1930's and converted in a park by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal. Along the trail, you'll find that this was the trail that members of the CCC sent rookies on to find "snipes", which snipe hunting is a long standing Appalachian;tradition to break in new recruits. Other key points of the trail include the foundations of remaining buildings and coal silos, a broken damn, an underground water cistern, (as this area provided water to the mine and to the camp), and the sealed coal mine itself.

While not a long or very technical trail, the CCC Snipe Trail was a joy to hike even in freezing weather. The interpretive signs and unique history all added to this trail's uniqueness and I recommenda day trip to Kanawha State Forest if you are in Charleston.

You can find out more about Kanawha State Forest by visiting their webpage.

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