Connecting with nature allows you to connect with yourself as well. Nature is full of beautiful sounds, sights, textures, and other creatures. By allowing yourself to be immersed in the natural beauty of a simple nature trail, you are giving yourself the gift of tranquility. Ecotherapy has been proven to improve mood and lessen the effects of mental health issues. How can you be stressed when you’re staring at a beautiful forest full of color?
Here are the best places to connect with nature in Charleston, WV.
Teaberry/Crown Jewel Trail
This trail is moderately difficult, but it has breathtaking views and it’s normally not busy. The loop is around 4.4 miles long, and includes Crown Jewel, Teaberry, and Oak Flats. Its trails will be even more beautiful in the fall! The perfect place to bring you serenity, and go for a mental health walk, which have been proven to improve mood.
Spotted Salamander Trail
This trail is located in the Kanawha State Forest, and it is short, relatively easy, and quiet. A unique thing about this trail is that it is designed for people with disabilities. It’s paved for people with wheelchairs, and has guiding ropes along the walkway. It also has information plaques with braille for people who are visually impaired. There is also a shelter with a picnic table, and a playground. People enjoy going to view the beautiful West Virginia wildflowers, and the scenery no matter the time of year. It got its name from the common spotted salamanders in West Virginia, which can be found in a pool next to the trail.
White Hollow Trail
White Hollow Trail is famous for being a place to birdwatch, and it's known for its wildflowers. Again, this trail is most likely not going to be too busy, so you’ll have the chance to recharge in a quiet, beautiful place. People say the trail is very well marked, and that it has beautiful rock formations. One comment on All Trails mentioned someone seeing a horned owl there!
Forks of Coal Natural Area
The Forks of Coal Natural Area Foundation is a conservation group which aims to conserve and protect the natural state of the park. They have educational programs and do fundraising events to bring the community into their conservation efforts. This beautiful area contains seven different hiking trails, equalling five miles, and was named because it is where The Little and Big Coal rivers meet, creating the Forks of Coal. Also located in the natural area is a pollinator and wildlife viewing field.
Sunrise Carriage Trail
Located near downtown Charleston, this trail is a nice place to have a quiet walk in nature. It’s about a mile and a half long, and is best known for being a good place to birdwatch. If you’re looking for a nice, scenic walk that isn't too time consuming, Sunrise Carriage Trail is perfect. It is located around the Sunrise Carriage Mansion, which was built in 1905, and was home to West Virginia's ninth governor, William MacCorkle. The mansion is now a landmark, and is used for law offices. The trail was actually used by the governor to go back and forth from his home to downtown Charleston, giving the trail an interesting historic background.
This park contains more than one thousand acres of beautiful land, consisting of walking and biking trails, an 18 hole golf course, a wedding garden, a playground, and more. They have several activities, including a winter light show, birdwatching, and nature activities to participate in. The Coonskin Park Foundation’s mission is to improve the wellbeing of the community, both physical and mental, through nature. A beautiful place hidden within Coonskin Park to go is the Coonskin Grotto. It’s a small waterfall which flows into a shallow cave, surrounded by sandstone. It’s the perfect spot to get away and find your zen. It’s no doubt even more beautiful during the fall season, surrounded by red and orange.
This park is full of fun community activities. The Cato Park Foundation was created in 1970 by the city’s attorney, Henry Cato. His idea was to create a park “for the people,” in hopes of making a space where the community could come together to be active and in nature, without paying anything. Aside from the leisurely activities like the pool and golf course, there is also an impressive five-mile-long trail system at Cato Park, which includes waterfalls and beautiful views. Cato Park is still developing, and they are working every day to expand the trail system for their visitors.
No matter where you go in West Virginia, the views will be pristine. There is nothing more relaxing and tranquil than an overlook of never ending woodlands, framed by a mountain range in the background. There’s truly no such thing as stress or anxiety in the beautiful woods of the West Virginia state parks. If you’re feeling down or stressed, it’s okay to take a break. Mother Nature is always there for us, and ecotherapy can work wonders for mental wellbeing.