More than a century ago, people flocked to the land now known as Lost River State Park to drink or bathe in its sulphur springs, which were considered to have healing properties. Today, this 3,934-acre wooded territory offers a different form of respite, offering a serene mountain getaway.
Located in Hardy County, W.Va., Lost River State Park is an ideal place for outdoor lovers to enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, camping, geocaching, horseback riding and more.
“During our peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, people can come to use our swimming pool, recreation hall, picnic areas and playgrounds,” said Park Superintendent Mike Foster, adding that there are two covered pavilions that can be rented for $100 per day for family picnics and retreats. The pavilions are both fully accessible and include grills. One has a fireplace and one has attached restrooms.
“There are almost 25 miles of hiking trails in the park, including some that can be used by people who bring their own horses,” he added. “And visitors can take advantage of our horseback riding stables—one of the few left in the state park system.”
Guided horseback rides are available daily from the first part of June until Labor Day. In April, May, September and October, rides are available on weekends only.
According to Foster, the area’s hiking trails are fairly mild, and many lead to incredible views, including the 1.5-mile White Oak Trail.
“The White Oak Trail leads to the Cranny Crow Overlook, which gives visitors a view of five counties and two different states,” he explained. The trail, which includes a 1,000-foot change in elevation, has switchbacks and a rest stop halfway up the mountain to make the journey a little easier.
In addition to outdoor fun, Lost River State Park also offers a glimpse into the nation’s history. Located near the site of the 1756 Battle of Lost River, a battle fought during the French and Indian War, it is home to the Lee Cabin, one of the area’s more unique attractions.
“The building was renovated to replicate the original facility, which was the summer retreat of Henry ‘Lighthorse Harry’ Lee,” said Foster. Lee was a Revolutionary War general and father of Civil War General Robert E. Lee, and the cabin was built for him by another son, Charles Carter Lee.
“During the summer, we have a naturalist who is also a historian and a Civil War reenactor, and he staffs the Lee House and shares some of its history,” added Foster.
Where to stay
Visitors to Lost River State Park can choose to camp on site, or to rent one of its 26 cabins, many of which have been updated. “We were fortunate to have money allocated for cabin renovations, so we’ve been making improvements to the kitchens and restrooms, including adding tankless water heaters and mini-split heating and cooling units to our legacy cabins,” said Foster. “All of the cabins also now have Wi-Fi.”
There are three different types of cabins available, including 15 legacy cabins, nine classic cabins, and two vacation cabins, the latter two being ADA-accessible.
Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the legacy cabins are fully equipped, though they don’t include forced-air heat or television. Classic cabins, built in the 1950s, do offer forced-air heat and TV, and the two vacation cabins, built in the 1990s, have full amenities, including propane gas log fireplaces. Rates run between $99 and $149 a night, and designated pet-friendly cabins are available.
Cabins are usually booked a year in advance. Users can call the park office at (304) 897-5372 on the first of the month at 8:30 a.m. to book a spot for the same time next year, or use the park’s new online system to be the first to get in.
“Since we’ve introduced the online system, a lot of folks have started booking that way, since they can go online at 12:01 a.m. to reserve a cabin, instead of waiting until the park office opens,” said Foster. Reservations can be made by visiting wvstateparks.com.