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Backpacker Magazine – June 2012

Top 3: Heavenly Hikes

No early bedtimes on these overnights; you'll want to stay up and enjoy unusually dark skies with clear views of summer's showiest celestial fireworks.

by: Melissa Gaskill

Continental Divide Trail, Gila NF, NM | South Rim, Big Bend NP, TX | Three Forks Loop, Monongahela NF, WV

Monongahela NF, WV
Three Forks Loop
Follow rugged trails in the East’s dark zone.
On a light pollution map, the eastern U.S. looks like a Christmas tree, but one dark pocket above the 47,815- acre Cranberry Wilderness promises pre-Edison darkness. Pitch camp in a meadow with rare, unobstructed views skyward on this 16.5-mile deep-woods loop. From the trailhead off WV 150, head west on the North-South Trail above the Cranberry River. In 5.2 miles, turn southwest on the Tumbling Rock Trail, which drops 800 feet in 2.6 miles to FR 102. Follow the road 1.7 miles southeast to the North Fork trailhead. After .7 mile on the North Fork Trail, ford the stream to pitch camp in an open area just north of the path. Next day, continue 6.3 miles on the North Fork to close the loop. (304-946-2695; data

The way From Charleston, link I-79 N toUS19StoWV55E.In46.3miles, turn left on WV 150 (Highland Scenic Highway). Park on your left in 8 miles.

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