I want to start this out with a quick shout out to the Tricky Fish restaurant in downtown Charleston. They have awesome organic and vegetarian dishes intermixed with meat choices as well. Very eclectic decor which is reflected in their menu. The staff was great. Very nice place for a casual meal.
Kanawha State Forest, pronouced (ka-naw state forest) is one of my favorite mountain bike destinations. It has a mix of a few beginner trails, one or 2 intermediate, but mostly expert. Although many in WV would not call it expert, but to anyone not used to the mountains it can be brutal. I remember when I lived in Charleston and went to the forest almost twice a week to ride and got into great riding shape. I would bring friends from other states to the forest and have them ride with me, and complain I had tried to kill them. I’ll admit, there are even sections I could not ride up or down due to the dangerous aspect of the rocks and the steepness of the trail. But for the most part all the trails are rideable, which compared to some trails in other parts of the state whose hills are never ending to the point where you have to stop to rest unless you are in olympic caliber shape.
So on this road trip when I saw the opportunity to ride there again I jumped on it. We left out of Ohio and headed straight to Charleston to visit with friends and camp at Kanawha State Forest. My plan was to ride in the evening and then just relax by the fire with a beer or three :)
My ride was a little tough, but I was expecting it. In fact I actually fared much better than I expected. I actually made it to the top of Pigeon Roost trail with only one stop due to a large wet roots on one of the steeps sections. I am riding a much better bike than I had when I lived there so that probably played a big part. I was going to come down Wildcat Ridge but somewhere I took a wrong turn and went down a great trail I didn’t know even existed. Bonus! Then I went up Whie Hollow on foot (no riding bikes allowed). It was the shortest way to the top from where I came out according to the map. But hiking straight up a mountain side, almost rock climbing at times while carrying my bike on my back was not my best decision of the day. Then the ride was still a long climb once at the end of White Hollow. I then got on what I thought was Black Bear trail, but come to find out I rode yet another great unmarked trail down the bottom of the mountain right at the entrance to the campground where Sharon and Nora were waiting for me.
So for the most part everything went according to plan with an added bonus. My friend Greg, whom we met earlier for lunch, came to our campsite to share the beer with me, or should say, was there to share HIS beer with me.
As far as the campground goes it is perfectly kept. Clean bath houses, level sites all spaced sufficiently apart, fire pits, and a flowing creek to fill your night’s sleep with soothing babbling water noise. The staff is ultra-friendly and helpful. Playgrounds are plentiful throughout the forest. And to top it off the forest is only 15 miles from the up and coming downtown in Charleston, so it is perfectly located for a nice weekend mountain retreat if you can get there.