- Location: Near Mink Shoals, WV (Coonskin Park in Kanawha County)
- Elevation: 750 feet
- Coordinates: 38.385186, -81.574586 / (38° 23′ 6.6696” N, 81° 34′ 28.5096” W)
- Waterway: Coonskin Branch
- Height: Around 2 feet, nice chute down to waterfall
The Coonskin Grotto is a not well known small waterfall located within Coonskin Park in Kanawha County. The waterfall is along Coonskin Branch, which empties into the Elk River at another spot in the park along the Elk River Trail. The waterfall can get pretty light in flow during the summer time during dry periods, but is usually at great flow after any decent rainfall. The area is called by locals as “The Grotto” because there is a wonderful overhang of rock on each side that makes for a very relaxing spot to eat a lunch!
To get to the Coonskin Grotto, take Exit 1 (Mink Shoals) off of Interstate 79 in Kanawha County and hop north on US-119 for 0.8 miles to the Coonskin Park entrance bridge on the right.
Once over the bridge, continue on the pavement that takes you through Coonskin Park. You will see the golf course, a skateboard park, and Herscher Lake on your right before a sharp turn to your left. Continue on the pavement and go past the tennis courts on your right, and you’ll begin to go up a hill. Right as you crest the hill, you’ll see a parking lot beside a road that juts to the left straight up a mountain. That’s where you should park. Directly across from the road going up the mountain, you will see the head of the trail, marked with a beautiful stone structure that says “Alice Knight Memorial Trail.” Your hiking begins!
You’ll follow this trail for about a 1/3 of a mile. If you have more time, take it slow, as there is plenty to check out. This part of the Coonskin Park trail system, along with the Hemlock Trail are my favorite areas to search for wild mushrooms. You will come across a couple of forks of trails during your hike, just make sure to stay to the left and you will always want the creek to be on your right. You will see a large rock overhang that is neat to check out on your left right before you get to the spot. Once you’re past the rock overhang, start listening for the sound of rushing water. Just ahead is a trail that will drop down toward the creek. Take that trail, and about 50 yards down will be the falls! When it has rained, this small trek going down into the Coonskin Grotto can be slick, so be warned! I’ve provided a couple of maps to help locate the waterfall.