We present a new approach for the fabrication and integration of vertically aligned forests of amorphous carbon nanowires (CNWs), using only standard lithography, oxygen plasma treatment, and thermal processing. The simplicity and scalability of this process, as well as the hierarchical organization of CNWs, provides a potential alternative to the use of carbon nanotubes and graphene for applications in microsystems and high surface area materials. The CNWs are highly branched at the nanoscale, and novel hierarchical microstructures with CNWs connected to a solid amorphous core are made by controlling the plasma treatment time. By multilayer processing we demonstrate deterministic joining of CNW micropillars into 3D sensing networks. Finally we show that these networks can be chemically functionalized and used for measurement of DNA binding with increased sensitivity.