2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – April 2008

Backpack West Virginia's Cranberry Wilderness

Discover a slice of rare Eastern wild country in West Virginia, where Canadian taiga meets Southern forests.

by: Alistair Wearmouth

PAGE 1 2
West Virginia, Courtesy of National Park Service
West Virginia, Courtesy of National Park Service

Hit the Appalachian Trail with our GPS-enabled West Virginia hikes.

Pick up a copy of the Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide by Allen DeHart and Bruce Sundquist ($18; West Virginia Highlands Conservancy) for trail beta and maps.

The Way
From Richwood, West Virginia, go 22 miles west on WV 39 to the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Turn left onto WV 150 and drive 10 miles to the North-South Trailhead.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Andrew Nicholls
Mar 22, 2013

The excellent article to a wild area should have mentioned the great free map resource from the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, which provides all the trails mentioned in this article, and more. Point your browser to:

Star Star Star Star Star
Jan 23, 2013

While this is beautiful area to hike and camp, it should not be considered a good place for beginners. The only reason I say this is depending on which loop you choose, you may find yourself wandering and bushwhacking aimlessly searching for the trail.

My experience was a tough one my first time here. It was a great challenge, but I am an experienced solo backpacker. I was astonished at the lack of trail maintenance. Most of the trail heads and intersections were marked. However, the problems come in once you are on the trail.

Many instances have you leisurely hiking down a beautiful trail, then the before you know it you are desperately trying to determine where the trail went.

If you have a GPS with current maps, and experience using it, you can use it to 'stay' on the trail and re-join your desired route. Just remember to trust the GPS and keep going.

I would give this 5 stars as it is absolutely beautiful area, but the level of trail maintenance is sadly working very hard against the enjoyment of the place.

Good luck.

Tony Woodrum
Aug 10, 2012

I've lived here in WV all my life and spent a good deal of it deep in the woods here. Be careful and use good common sense out there....bears, rattlers, copperheads, coyotes.....lots of wildlife here. Not a bad thing and definately beautiful scenerey.
Just want everyone too stay alert and have fun.
I'd live out there in them woods if I could.....I just seem too get along better with critters than most folks!. Yall come back now...ya hear?!.

Apr 30, 2012

A friend and I completed a 25 mile loop of the Cranberry Wilderness of Monongahela National Forest in mid-April 2012, 5-star rating! Spring had not hit yet, not one dogwood bloom. No briars either!!! No people!!!!!! This is very strenous at times, and there will not be an easy way out with an injury... We found sufficient established campsites, sufficient CLEAN water. Lots of old forest, elevation change ranging from rhododendron forests to peat bogs... There is plenty of dead wood in late winter, and very, VERY quiet! Monongahela could be my east coast favorite!

Sep 07, 2010

Had a wonderful trip there over the labor Day weekend .. but there were definitely bear dogs around! One spent the night under our tarp which we didn't mind as he definitely kept the bears away.

Sep 06, 2010

We hiked this exact hike over Labor Day Weekend 2010....Fantastic hike, beautiful scenery, and definitely remote. Only saw 5 people in 3 days over the holiday weekend. 2 items hikers should be aware of that were misleading from the description above....1) there are no overlooks as suggested by the photo above. 2) there are no 'sites in secluded grassy meadows', although there are a few camping sites within the first 4 miles. Overall, we'd do this hike again.

Aug 01, 2010

This is a excellent area to see a bear after hunting here in a week I seen about 20 bear and some streams have a healthy population of brook trout. Also be careful storing food at camp sites bears can be a problem at night. Posted: August 1,2010 Brandon Burket

Glenn Stoker
Jun 17, 2009

Just got back from the 22 mile loop with that chris guy below me, the scenery was beautifull, the hike was exilerating, and the expereince is extremly memorable, Anyone who wants a glimpse at a black bear should def. check out the cranberry wilderness!!

Jul 26, 2008

i was just in the cranberry i got back today, the middle fork area is great...the area around hell for certain is beautiful...starting on the middle fork trail and going onto the north fork trail at the beginning and then going north south down into the valley and back up thoruhg the tumbling rock area and laurelly branch to the middle fork is a nice loop

Jun 26, 2008

cranberry wilderness is great, and hopefully we will be seeing an expansion soon. there is legislation in front of the senate right now that could make it a reality. anyone who likes cranberry should also check out dolly sods, another west virginia gem.

Jared Lowe
Jun 02, 2008

i live in wv and i am just about to start hiking and i want to go some where more secluded and this sounds like my best bet for some where near by

Richard Ross
Jun 02, 2008

I do alot of off trail hiking in cranberry and often find signs of old logging/minning camps. Like wroght iron beds to large iron stoves. If you truly want to get away from it all this is the place


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Burger King moving headquarters to Canada
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: star
Pacific Northwest
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: NicholasBell
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions