Some people believe that a measure of how well a city is run is how many parks there are within the city limits. Many European city planners take that to heart, and build as much green space into their cities as possible. In typical American fashion, the city of Charleston doesn’t limit itself to parks within city limits. There are over 25 parks either within or surrounding the Charleston area. These include everything from ball fields to state operated wildlife management areas.
Most parks available to residents within the city limits are small green spaces, more like a children’s playground than a European style park that can cover acres at a time. Others, like the Booker T Washington State Park are a little larger, and offer patrons a quiet place to get away from the noise of city life for a while within its 8 acre expanse.
Also close to Charleston, in Kanawah county, is the Kanawah State Forest. Clocking in at over 9,300 acres, it is one of the largest parks in the county, and certainly a large piece of land. Visitors can find fully equipped camping areas, with cabins as well as tent spots. Some camping spots even have electric and water hookups. The Kanawah State Forest also includes a swimming pool, fishing, and 25 miles of trails for hikers, including a paved trail aimed at physically challenged guests.
Of course, for even more outdoors oriented camping, you can try out the Fork Creek Wildlife Management Area. For the uninitiated, wildlife management area means hunting, fishing, camping, and generally wild terrain for miles and miles. Hunters can find easy pickings of bear, deer, turkey, fox, and squirrel. Fork Creek also offers a 100 yard shooting range, as well as various campsites with some toilets available for a small fee. This particular area is a good example of the way many undeveloped forest areas of the state are used. This whole bit of land is owned by the Island Creek Coal Corporation, who mines coal from the mountains in the region. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources operates the site and leases it from the Coal Corporation.
Staying a bit closer to Charleston, you can head up North on State Route 14 to Coonskin Park, where you can find paddle boats, a swimming pool, putt putt golf, and an 18 hole par 3 golf course. There is a fishing lake and a clubhouse with excellent food as well as large open areas for visitors to enjoy sports concerts, or any other event you can imagine.
Charleston and the surrounding area has no shortage of green space dedicated for the enjoyment of the public. With over 25 parks and recreational areas in Kanawah County, there is always plenty to do and see, and you’re never far from where you want to be.