Maybe I am not used to KOA prices but $52 a night for a FHU seems high! The owners were nice and accommodating! The site while somewhat level was gravel and wet from day’s storm (poor drainage) ! I booked from afar and was not able to find other campgrounds near Charleston, WV.
Sadly, it was raining the entire time we were at this site. However, the campground was very nice! It was quaint and quiet. Nice view and close to the lake as well! There is a beach about a 10 minute drive away from the camp. Very nice showers and bathrooms!
This park campground is nice, but lost in time. Outhouses are gross. Usable, but gross. No water hook ups, but a place to fill your tank behind water fountains. Camping is deserted pretty much on weekdays and on weekends the same people camp in the same spots a lot, probably because most spots are not level. Overall I'd give it 4 or 5 stars if they had toilets.
The park is nice but in bad need of updating. Outhouses are not appealing and sometimes the lake swimming area is closed due to bacteria from leeching. Most sites are not level. They do have electric though. Water hookup is unavailable but they have a place to fill tanks on each drinking fountain. The staff are nice and you never see them after check in. The lake is now motor accessible with no wake..idle only.
We spent a week camping at Beech Fork. There were things we liked and didn't like. If you are looking for laid back, kayaking, fire building, kids playing, fishing, camping trip, then this is the place to be. It is very safe for kids. The park ranger makes his rounds quite frequently. The only thing we did not like is, there is no swimming in the lake. There is a pool very close but you still have to pay if you are camping there - at least discount the price to campers. There is beach access but it takes 30-45 minutes to drive to it.
I stayed at Chief Logan for 3-days and 2-nights and didn’t get to do or see everything I wanted to experience at this wonderful WV State Park, so it’s worth an extended stay.
Chief Logan has 26 level RV camping spots with water and electricity at all sites and a sewer connection at about half of them. The park also has a large open field for group camping or enough space for about 40 to 50 individual tents for those who prefer a more primitive experience. No water or electricity at the primitive campground, but you’re within walking distance of the main bathhouse which was nice and clean during my stay. Here's a link for an interactive map of the Chief Logan campground where there's cell phone service for both AT&T and Verizon customers.
When you check-in at the park headquarters, make sure you visit the adjoining museum which gives you some background on the local coal industry and the hardy settlers who clashed with the American Indians when this area was still used as their hunting grounds. The gift shop has a variety of souvenirs with their#1 best sellers tied to alleged sightings of “Big Foot,” not Chief Logan… Lol…
Chief Logan State Park has lots of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. I hiked the Coal Mine Trail with remnants of the coal industry decaying in the forest, then continued on the Wilderness Trail which gives you a nice view of the surrounding mountains. I was super impressed by the maintenance staff when I reported offensive graffiti on the Guyandotte Beauty Trail and a crew hiked into the woods and painted over it before I even had time to show my photos to Superintendent Bruce Collinsworth.
There are a variety of shelters and playgrounds scattered throughout the nearly 4,000 acre forest so you can spread out and enjoy the park without feeling like you’re fighting any crowds.
I didn’t get to try the Chief Logan swimming pool, but it looked amazing with a giant slide, high dive and kiddie pool. There's also a stocked fishing pond in this park.
There’s a small wildlife center where you can see bears, bobcats and raptors in enclosures for a$2.00 donation. The caretaker helped me get some nice photos of the bears by putting some honey and peanut butter on the fence around their enclosure. You won’t have to pay a dime to see deer. I spotted dozens of does, bucks and fawns during my stay, so keep your eyes peeled because they don’t seem terribly cautious around people or cars.
I should add that nearly 100 elk have recently been reintroduced in and around Chief Logan State Park. I didn’t see any elk during my visit, but I plan a return trip in the fall when naturalist Lauren Cole offers tours during the mating season.
I can’t write a Chief Logan State Park review without mentioning the outdoor theater. Actors had just wrapped a sold-out run of “Deadly Divide” about the bloody history of the Hatfields and McCoys and were practicing for the “Lion King, Jr.” Chief Logan also has an entertainment venue called“Pickin’ In The Park,” where you can hear some local bluegrass music on the weekends.
Chief Logan also has a really nice lodge and some new deluxe cabins about 2-miles from the main portion of this state park. The lodge has a restaurant and conference rooms, plus there’s a modern recreational center nearby which includes a heated indoor swimming pool, weight room, tennis courts, and elevated walking track. Admission to the rec center is free for lodge guests, but campers can also use the facility for$10/day or$32/month for a family of four… Deal!
So why is such a grandiose state park located in the middle of Lincoln County, WV, where the decline of the coal industry has left many in poverty? Former WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is from Lincoln County, so he made sure big bucks where channeled into his home turf, including a nerve jangling connector road that links the main portion of Chief Logan State Park to the lodge and rec center. This road, named “Tomblin Drive,” in his honor, is so steep and curvy it’s closed during the winter months.
Additional things/do to see nearby: The Coal Heritage Trail, Blair Mountain, Hatfield and McCoy ATV Trails, and the City of Logan.
Cabwaylingo is off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit! It's one of the oldest WV state parks, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. Described as a"hidden gem" on the state website, I was the only camper in the entire 8,200-acre property on a warm Sunday afternoon. Sad this beautiful state forest is so underutilized.
Cabwaylingo sits on a portion of four different counties, namely: Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mingo, which helps explain the origin of the exotic-sounding name. The forest has two campgrounds, lots of picnic shelters, 100-capacity bunkhouses with a huge kitchen, plus some gorgeous historic cabins which now have A/C. The outdoor pool is closed due to a lack of funding, but there's swimming hole in the nearby creek which is also used for baptisms by local churches.
The stonework in this park is amazing, especially the superintendent's residence which was built by Italian stone masons. It's located across the street from the park headquarters, so be sure and check it out.
I pulled into the Spruce Creek Campground which appeared nicely maintained, but there was no campground host, no other campers, and the bathhouses were locked, so I wasn't sure if it was open for use. I found out from the superintendent the next morning that it's difficult to keep a campground host because it's an unpaid position. He said I could have pulled in and picked one of 11 spots, then the night watchman would have shown up to check me in and unlock the bathrooms. Good to know, if you're just passing through with no reservation like I was. Here's another tip from the superintendent: If you pull up next to the satellite dish by the bathhouse, there's Internet service with no pass code.
I ended up driving to the Tick Ridge primitive campground which lived up to its name. Again, no host and no campers, so this isolated campground tends to attract partying locals and ATV riders who use the nearby county road. The bathhouse here is permanently closed due to a dried up well, so the only facilities are the ancient pit toilets. I was surprised that I had phone service high on the hill, thanks to an AT&T tower on a nearby ridge. I wouldn't camp here again, but I might make the 2-mile drive to checkout the old Tick Ridge Fire Tower built by the CCC in 1935. I'm bummed I didn't know about it and missed it during my stay.
The drive to Cabwaylingo State Forest is half the adventure. You'll be motoring through the heart of southern West Virginia's coal country where you'll cross several single-lane bridges and pass through at least one historic tunnel chiseled out of the surrounding rock.
You'll see the economic impact of the decline of the coal industry with many businesses shuttered, so best to stock up on groceries and gas before you get too far off the beaten path where there's often no phone or Internet service.
I stopped for gas at the Dingess Service Center where locals can pull-up and pump fuel, but you'll have to go inside and leave your credit card before the manager will turn the vintage pump on. I bought a cold caffeinated beverage and visited with some local residents about their favorite pastimes, the coal industry, and the poor job market that's causing their young people to flee. Everyone was super-friendly after I explained I was reviewing Cabwaylingo in an attempt to encourage more tourism.
The Dingess Service Center is located near the infamous Dingess Tunnel which is a former train tunnel, nearly a mile-long, stained with the bloody history of train wrecks and purported deaths of foreign laborers killed by locals. Whatever the truth is, the 60's-era conversion to a single-lane road for cars still makes for a nail-biting drive. They were paving the roadway when I came through, so the tunnel was closed, but I did drive through a similar, but much shorter, tunnel which runs between Dingess and Breeden.
There are lots of churches along the access road to Cabwaylingo, including a couple of Old Regular Baptist Churches, found almost exclusively in remote areas of Appalachia. This denomination does not use musical instruments so they have a song leader who chants a line of the hymn, with the congregation repeating a more elaborate version. It's a mournful-sounding form of worship called"line-out hymnody" which dates back to the 1700's. There are a few samples on YouTube which sound like remnants of some ancient Celtic church service.
Campground was nice. Staff was nice. Spots were roomy. They had recently mowed but left all the clippings so it that was quite messy especially being in a tent. Lake was nice to kayak without worrying of large boats. Even though we were paying to stay overnight for 3 nights, it was an additional charge for the pool AND to go to the beach area. I think if you are paying to stay on the grounds this should be included.
The best place to camp in WV in my humble opinion. Kids can enjoy themselves riding bikes and not have to worry about them getting hit by cars. You can take a kayak or even boat up to your campsite. There is a disc golf course at the campgrounds as well. If swimming in the lake isn’t your thing then the beech fork pool is not even a min away, nice big pool with 2 diving boards and also a kiddie pool for the wee little ones. All in all it’s a great place and you should definitely try it!
Great campground with super easy access to the trail and lake. The sites are spread apart enough so you aren’t right beside someone - and shaded. Well prepared sites with a clearing, fire ring, and a picnic table. Nice host and rangers too! Bathrooms were meh: the walls need cleaned or painted, no where to put your things, and there was no hand soap - no biggie though.
Very hard to contact them. It was sold in dec 2018, and the phone number has changed and not up to date on line. The sites are mostly grass a few concrete pads along the River.
30 amp service. The care taker was friendly. We did not use the restrooms, as he didn’t have the hot water on, and no offer was made to turn it on. We backed onto the Ohio River and could watch the barges. There is a coal fired generator on the opposite side of the river. This one is all location. 35.00 a night was overpriced for amenities.
This state park has a beautiful lake and a nice beach. There are boat rentals and a frisbee golf course. Overall, this part of the park is beautiful.
The campgrounds, however, leave a lot to be desired. The people were really nice, but the facilities were terrible. The pit toilets were filthy- covered in flies, spiderwebs and dirt. They look like they have not been hosed out since the 70's. The showers and sinks are in an old, old building- it could be fine if it were cleaned daily, but it was filthy too. I was there 3 days and the showers and sinks were never cleaned. They were pretty gross from the start, but then by Saturday night one shower housed a pile of feces. No kidding. Poop in the shower.
We stayed in the camper cabin, which is just a very basic shed with a bed, bunk beds, air conditioning and heat. We stayed there because it was July and I wanted A/C and electricity. The cabin smelled like mold.
I'd go back to this lake but will not stay in the campgrounds again.
Tawney Farm is part of a growing trend of agrotourism in West Virginia where farmers allow visitors to camp on their land.
The proximity to the Gauley River makes this primitive campground an ideal place for kayakers to stay during the whitewater season in September and October. That's when the meadows and hills around Tawney Farm will be filled with tent campers ready to ride the rapids.
James and Susan Tawney are the perfect hosts because they're super nice and sincerely interested in talking about their sheep farm, the history of Panther Mountain, and the best places to swim, fish and kayak on the Gauley River.
I enjoyed a couple nights of "glamping" when I stayed at the Tawney Farm "Nut House," appropriately named because James crafted it from recycled wood, including cherry, beechnut and black walnut.
The primitive cabin has electricity, a full-sized roll-away bed and a futon. There's no bathroom or running water, so I used the clean port-a-potties and community propane-heated shower and had access to a fire pit and charcoal grill.
Great hospitality! James prepped my fire pit with free wood and Susan made sure I had plenty of charcoal, then loaned me BBQ tools so I could grill my dinner without scorching my hands.
The Wild and Woolly Primitive Campground includes a group area where guests can cook, wash their dishes, and hangout. There's a small store with raw wool crafts, fresh farm eggs and black walnuts, plus and a stage for live music during the peak season.
I wanted to make sure I got some nice photos of their sheep, so James and Susan brought the flock down for a closer look and encouraged some young guests to pet them.
The access road to Tawney Farm is gravel with a tree growing in the middle, so take caution at night. The nearby roads leading to the Gauley River National Recreation Area are in good shape but a little nerve-wracking because they're so narrow there's not much room to get out of the way when you come face-to-face with tour buses shuttling paddlers to and from the Gauley River.
I checked out Mason Branch and Woods Ferry where I enjoyed some nice hiking, paddling and swimming. Since it was summer, the kayakers I spotted were using "rubber duckies" so they could negotiate the rocky river without getting stuck.
Mason Branch has an unmarked, unmaintained trail near the parking lot where you can see a couple of nice waterfalls. There's a trail to the left of the lower falls that takes you to a higher waterfall the locals call "Janie's Hole." The story I heard is Janie was a young lady who died after she either fell or jumped from the top of this falls.
There's another interesting local story about the nearby Summersville Lake. This crystal clear lake was created when an earthen dam was built that covered the small farming community of Gad with water. My 98-year old mom says no one wanted to call it the "Gad Dam" because it sounded like they were using the Lord's name in vane, so they settled on the next closest town and named it the Summersville Dam. Water released from this lake in the fall is what creates the world-class whitewater on the Gauley River.
We loved our stay here! The owners are so friendly and welcoming. They had so much for kids to do: a swimming pond with inflatables, gem mining, banana bikes, and more. They showed a movie at 9pm on a big inflatable movie screen outside. Lots of other families there to hang out with.
The only downside was that the tent sites are close to the interstate, so there was A LOT of road noise all night. Otherwise, it was a great camping experience!
Great location to earn some backpacking miles. Feels quite remote, but along the trails there are shelters, bathrooms, trash reciprocals, and other useful hookups. When camping and hiking here, you feel space and distance from other campers, with the perks of established facilities.
It's rare to find free RV camping, especially sites with 30 AMP electric hook-ups! The City of Saint Albans has a roadside park with three RV sites where you can camp for 2-days max in a 14-day period. The sites are first-come, first-serve, with donations encouraged. Sorry, no tent camping….
Each RV site has electricity, a picnic table, and a trash can. There's a sewer dump site nearby with drinking water available. The public park restrooms offer flush toilets, but no showers. There's a nice picnic shelter and a huge playground with some handicap-accessible swings. A shopping center is directly across the street with a grocery store and other amenities.
This park also has a public boat ramp which is part of the Port of St. Albans. The ramp gives you direct access to the Kanawha River which is primarily used by coal barges, speed boats and vintage paddle wheelers. For kayakers like me, you should bare left at the bottom of the ramp and head toward the Coal River where you can enjoy a nice, peaceful paddle without the fear of being swamped or crushed. BTW, St. Albans is home to the annual Yak Fest, mid-June, where participants in the Tour de Coal gather to enjoy live music and local eats after a 12-mile float.
A little historic trivia. George Washington owned 2,000 acres in the Kanawha Valley, including what is now the City of Saint Albans.
The main drawback to this roadside park is that it's butted up to MacCorkle Avenue, which is a busy roadway, so I'd describe this as urban RV camping. On the plus side, you're 15-minutes from the capital city of Charleston, WV, which is worth a visit to see the beautiful gold-domed capitol and WV State Museum.
Great and peaceful environment. Multiple places to mountain bike, picnic, and camp. Shooting range, and there's hunting allowed in certain areas during the state's deer season. Roads could use some touching up, but overall a great place to be!
Great RV/Camper spots for your family! Although I’m more of a tent camper myself, my family members have some medical issues that require them to sleep inside and have access to electricity, so Fox Fire turned out to be a really good spot for that. Camper spots are a decent size, but they can feel a little cramped on the bigger weekends. Their camp store is stocked with everything you may need and not to mention their swimming lake is pretty fun and provided hours of entertainment for the youngins in our group. Super cool programs too! Can’t complain about a movie out by the lake. Ooh and make sure you rent a banana bike! Super fun.
Go to Beech Fork! I’ve been camping here with my family for close to ten years now and we always have a blast. I’ve stayed in primitive sites and RV sites and you can’t really go wrong with either (my review will be 4 stars until I check out the cabins)! Whether you’re looking to spend some time on the lake, fish, hike, bike, or even learn a thing or two about West Virginia history, Beech Fork will typically have you covered. The park stays clean and the staff are pretty good people as well!
This Recreation Area offers hiking trails, picnic opportunities, along with shelter house rentals for those family get togethers. The damn provides an excellent place for photos, while the lake is excellent for fishing and birdwatching. Year-round Campground with Electric, tent sites are also available. Perfect quiet area for a family day trip or spending a few days.
Why was it a very good place for us?
For us, this was a hidden gem on a Friday in September, but be aware it may not be the same experience for you. Most of the sites were open on reserveamerica.com so we knew we could just show up and choose a site. We went out to the end of area 3 (out of 5 areas) with sites 77-122 (non-electric) because it ends with a loop. There was a tent across the loop on #100. We chose #94 which had plenty of room, a sunny area for our solar panels and lots of shade. It was a great site for us.
Will your experience be different?
You need to be aware this is an old park. I would hesitate to reserve a site just by looking at sites on the online map. I've included a photo of the map the attendant had to show a view of the areas…electric and non-electric with a total of 151 sites. Many of the parking pads are extremely short although some are wide enough for a vehicle and trailer…or 2 vehicles.
Some of the areas where you can pitch a tent are pretty rough, especially at the beginning of area 3. See photos. #119 was a site in use and it looks like a great site for two tents (as long as it doesn't rain because you can see in the photo that you're in a valley).
Be aware there could be some things you might not like…short parking pads, difficult tent areas, pit toilets. There are showerhouses that include sinks but the toilets are pit toilets in separate buildings.
I did not find potable water. There were water fountains that were not running, but there were several gray water dump wells and and a dump station.
Yes, it's a bit rough around the edges. We liked that it wasn't crowded. The attendant said the park was full over Memorial Day weekend. Other campers told me there's a chili cookoff around Halloween, and it's a great place to camp around then.
If you love the amenities of a modern campground, you could be disappointed. If you like roughing it, you'll enjoy the setting. And you can show up without a reservation and choose a site.
The attendant told me the disc golf course attracts people because it's very good.
A few short hiking trails
Forked Run Lake has a boat ramp and 400-foot sand beach.
What about cell phone service?
Verizon's network was available but not in all areas. There is decent wifi by the entrance station.
We live close to this park and frequent there, sometimes just day trips. Tent camping is great and just like most places there are a few sites that are the best. Park offers hiking trails from the camp sites to the beach area or packing up the swim gear and using the parking lot. The beach area is back water from the ohio river. It is a sandy rocky mixture. There are boat rentals during peak months. There is a frisbee golf course that is top notch. The only down side to this ohio state park, are the bathrooms; they are port a pot facilities that can be pretty raunchy.