CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — If you enjoy, walking, running, or biking, here are six trails in Charleston with unique sights, history, nature and more.
1. Sunrise Carriage Trail
In 1905, West Virginia’s Gov. William A. MacCorkle directed the construction of his estate, the Sunrise Mansion on a 16-acre woodland property in Charleston’s South Hills. The adjacent Sunrise Carriage Trail was originally built for oxen towing construction stone to build the mansion, as the main road was too steep for the animals. Throughout the year, the governor frequently traveled down the Carriage Trail into Charleston. In 1974, Sunrise Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Carriage Trail is maintained by the City of Charleston.
The 15-foot-wide trail zigzags for 0.65 miles through a forest of wildflowers, towering trees, ornamental plants and historic masonry. The Carriage Trail’s history, beauty and peacefulness are the perfect elements for a walk that is unique. The trail can be accessed at the lower end from a point just past the end of the South Side Bridge and below Bridge Road. The trail can also be entered at the upper end at Sunrise Mansion, 746 Myrtle Road in Charleston. The trail entrance is on the left side of the mansion. View a map here.
2. Alice Knight Memorial Trail
The Alice Knight Memorial Trail is a 1.1-mile loop that leads to a fairytale-like waterfall in Charleston’s beloved Coonskin Park. Visitors can find several unique sights before even reaching the waterfall cove, such as a wooden footbridge, the Coonskin Fork, a natural rock wall and more. Shortly after passing the rock wall, there is a small trail to the right of the main path. The trail goes down toward Coonskin Fork and ends at the ultimate destination — the waterfall. Click here to view a map of the Coonskin Park Trail System.
3. Spring Hill Cemetery History Walks
Spring Hill Cemetery is situated on a hill overlooking the city of Charleston. It was established in 1869 and is West Virginia’s largest cemetery (about 175 acres). Many locals know Spring Hill as a peaceful resting place for their loved ones as well as a beautiful park where visitors can walk their dogs, bird watch, and look over the capital city’s skyline. For those who enjoy history, Spring Hill has plenty of it. This unique cemetery is the final resting place for many of Charleston’s prominent figures and three West Virginia governors.
There are four self-guided History Walks and one Angel walk that Spring Hill visitors can take. Several stops along the walks are at the graves of people whose surnames are now downtown Charleston street names — Summers, Quarrier, and Laidley. Printable maps of those walks can be viewed on Spring Hill’s website. In 1985, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to history, Spring Hill Cemetery contains beautiful monuments and memorials, limestone obelisks, and a large Moorish-style mausoleum. Anyone who likes art, photography, peaceful walks, or scenic views would enjoy Spring Hill Cemetery.
4. Spotted Salamander Trail
In Kanawha State Forest (KSF) just outside of Charleston, the Spotted Salamander Trail is wheelchair accessible and includes interpretive nature signs and guide ropes for people who are blind. The trail is an easy 0.25 miles and is right across from the old barn. Also beside the trail is an ADA-compliant playground. To view a map of KSF’s trail system, click here.
5. Cato Park Trail System
Cato Park has a wide selection of trails to choose from, including one that takes you to a waterfall and cave near Garrison Avenue. There are several ways to get to the waterfall by traveling various side paths off the main trail. Locals say that within the park limits there once lived a man who allowed people to dump their large appliances there so he could repair them and sell them. This place was called “Charle Brown’s Dump.” The man apparently had a large collection of items, and some debris is still left over in the area today. Today, many people refer to the trail along Garrison Avenue as “Charlie Brown’s Hollow.” To view a map of the Cato Park Trail System, visit this link.
6. Kanawha Boulevard Trail
The Kanawha Boulevard Trail spans from Charleston’s East End, through downtown, and to the West Side. Bikers, pedestrians, runners, and walkers visit the path every day. What makes the trail unique is all the classic Charleston views along the way. Visitors can see sights such as the West Virginia State Capitol, the Kanawha River, the University of Charleston, historic East End houses, downtown Charleston high-rise buildings, and Magic Island. Some sections of the Boulevard Trail have an upper trail along with a lower path that is closer to the river. The West Side part of Kanawha Boulevard is home to redeveloped and expanded bike and walking lanes painted on the sidewalk. At the end of the path, make sure to visit the Shoney’s Big Boy Museum across the street, which is the original location of what evolved into the American restaurant chain Shoney’s.