Camp Creek State Forest is located in the northern part of Mercer County, 16 miles north of Princeton and 19 miles south of Beckley. The forest comprises 5,269 acres, 487 acres of the original Forest were made a State Park by the Legislature in 1988.
The area in and around Camp Creek State Forest is rich in history and has played an important part in the development of this section of the county. The name Camp Creek was derived because the area was considered good for camping by the troops during the Civil War. At the turn of the century, a grist mill, band saw, and store were established in the Campbell’s Falls area of the Forest. Mountaintop farms removed about one third of the original forest. The original forest was primarily oak and chestnut on the ridges with yellow poplar, hemlock and white pine occupying the bottoms. In the mid 1930s Blue Jay Lumber Company logged the forested areas. Several logging camps were built and a narrow gauge railroad was built up Camp Creek, with a spur up Mash Fork, over Flat Top Mountain to Blue Jay near Beckley in Raleigh County. Logs were hauled by Shay locomotives over these tracks to the company sawmill, twenty miles away. Approximately sixty million board feet of timber were cut from the existing forest in a five year period. A major fire swept the entire area soon after logging operations were completed. The current forest is primarily of sprout origin, with the exception of the yellow poplar, pines, and hemlock which are of seed origin.
In 1945, the state of West Virginia began purchasing land for the establishment of Camp Creek State Forest. Sixteen tracts of land were purchased in all. The largest tract was 4,775 acres purchased from Blue Jay Lumber Company. A part of this land was originally the old McCullough tract which had been deeded to Robert McCullough in 1795 by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some small farms were within the boundary of the Blue Jay Lumber Company holding and all but one of these was purchased to be part of Camp Creek State Forest. In 1951 the Legislature appropriated funds for the development of recreational facilities on Camp Creek State Forest. The forest was opened for general public use in the summer of 1953.
Camp Creek is stocked with trout in the spring, and the headwaters of Camp Creek have been stocked periodically with trout fingerlings. These streams are below areas of active forest management. Excellent small game, deer and turkey hunting can be found in the State Forest.
The entire forest is crisscrossed with roads, many of which were originally farm access roads. Many of these old roads have been upgraded during harvest operations and natural gas exploration activities and some new roads have been built. Seeded haul roads are used as trails for mountain bikes and horses. Some roads are important brood habitat for wild turkey and are closed to mountain bikes and horses.
The first planned harvests on Camp Creek State Forest have been conditioning cuts to improve the form, vigor, and diversity of the stands. Since1980 there have been four harvests conducted under the 1970 plan. These harvests averaged 340 acres in size and removed an average of 3,500 board feet per acre. An average of 1.3 million board feet were removed per harvest. Trees that were overmature, declining, or of poor form or condition were removed. The remaining trees have less competition allowing them to grow faster resulting in a healthy and vigorous stand.