Hawks Nest State Park, located along the rim of the New River Gorge in central West Virginia, features breathtaking overlooks, strenuous hiking trails, an aerial tramway, jet boat rides, and a lodge with spectacular views. The park also offers a museum and a rail-to-trail.
Hawks Nest was first known as Marshall’s Pillar from the circumstance that Chief Justice John Marshall visited the spot in 1812 and took measurements of its height. The name was not every popular, and it quickly became better known as Hawks Nest for the fish hawks by the hundreds used to nest and raise their brood in the fissures and potholes of the mountain. The construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in 1872 scared away the hawks permanently.
Before the advent of the state park, Hawks Nest was the site of a trail used by Native Americans. Later, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway was completed through the New River Gorge below the Hawks Nest overlook, followed by the completion of the Hawks Nest Dam and Tunnel to generate hydroelectricity and prevent downstream flooding. It was not until 1935 that the state acquired land for what became Hawks Nest, and a lodge and other amenities were added in 1963.