In the Cranberry Backcountry, this 18.9 mile circuit hike traverses a ridge of old growth forest, and follows the banks of Cranberry River. Early October, when the leaves change color, is probably the prettiest time to take this backpack. The valley explodes in oranges, reds, and yellows.
From the parking area start up the blue blazed Kennison Mountain Trail, and in 0.4 miles arrive at the intersection of the South Fork Trail. Continue straight on the Kennison Mount Trail as it climbs the ridge before reaching the junction of the Frosty Gap Trail in another 0.6 miles. Turn right, staying on the Kennison Mount Trail, and in 3.7 miles cross Forestry Road (FR) 738A.
Continue along the blue blazed Kennison Mountain Trail another 1.0 miles where the the trail crosses FR 738B. Turn right on FR 738B for 20 yards, then left uphill on the initially wider continuation of the Kennison Mount Trail. The trail will head uphill for another 0.4 miles before passing around the summit of Kennison Mountain. The Kennison trail makes a very steep descent in the last 0.5 miles before reaching Cranberry River.
Ford Cranberry River, then head 100 yards upstream to the first of many superb campsites. If this site is taken, it's only a short walk to the shelter and next camp site.
From this point, Cranberry River will be on the left and out of view. In another 2.1 miles, the service road arrives at the intersection of the Cow Pasture Trail on the left, and South Prong Trail on the right.
Turn right uphill on the blue blazed South Prong Trail as it climbs towards the Kennison Mountain Ridge. In 1.0 miles the trail will make a switchback to the right, then turn back to the left, and becoming steeper for the remaining 0.8 miles to the ridge, and junction of the Kennison Mountain Trail. Turn left on the Kennison Mountain Trail, and in 0.4 miles arrive back at the parking area.
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Reviews For The Cranberry River Hike (5 Most Recent)
We stopped at the Cranberry Glades after a trip to WV to see the fall colors and hunt for berries - but we were a tad too early. I hiked the Cranberry wilderness about 15 years ago with my brother and we enjoyed this route, but we liked the middle fork of the Williams and the Beechy Run circuit much better. That route is less monotonous, has a few views, a nice waterfall and a great camp at Beechy run/Williams river confluence. If you want solitude and great opportunities to spot wildlife, the Cranberry wilderness is hard to beat - but being in the Appalachian plateau vistas are generally less grand, but more local.
Date of Hike: Friday, June 17, 2011
Overall a nice walk through the woods. Beware that it is a hike through the WOODS. If you are going for views and scenery, I would find a different hike. It may be more scenic in the fall when the leaves are changing colors, but in the middle of June it's all trees. Thick undergrowth along most of the trail caused me to be especially wary of snakes also, but I only saw one the entire trip. What made the trip great was the more than usaul wildlife I got to see along the trail. At the intersection of forest road 738b I got several pictures of a large black bear before it wandered on into the woods, and while making the descent to Cranberry River I was charged by a pheasent with little ones. I spotted a couple trout in Cranberry River, although I wasn't fishing. It also seemed a bit more solitary than I expected: I only saw three people, and they were all on the service road as I hiked out Saturday. All in all a nice hike as long as you're not wanting the more scenic / well trodden paths typical of the AT.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 05, 2009
This is a great hike for people who are interested in some hills and beautiful scenery. It starts up a hill and you think you want to quit and then you realize you're at the top and most of the rest of the hike is flat. The worst part is the last mile or so. It is a very steep decent to the river. Once you're at the river it is sweet victory, at least for the day. If you're planning to fish the Cranberry River once you get there, it's catch and release so you definitely have to pack you're own food. I've done this hike with friends for the past three years, and we bring steak. You're body needs some extra everything after a 10 mile hike. Anyway. The second half is very mild. You walk for probably 6-7 miles on a gravel road and then cross over to Cow Pasture Trail and you begin you're steep climb back up the mountain which you worked so hard to get down. All in all though, it is a great time to get out in nature. Oh yeah I forgot to add the part about the plants on the Cow Pasture trail that make your legs burn/itch. I'm not sure what they're called but wear pants on the last 2 miles. Once again I had a great time on the trail and look forward to more hikes. It's a great thing to get in God's creation and realize how powerful and how creative a God we serve. John 15:5
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 21, 2006
This is a nice hike even though it involves about 6 miles of road walking. If doing it as a fall hike the colors will totally distract you from the road. One important point: at times the Cranberry can be a meandering little stream with rock hops almost anywhere along its course. At other times it can be a ragging turrent with water above your butt flowing at a rate that will knock the strongest off of his/her feet. Monitor the precipitation in the area for the week before a trip prior to commiting to this hike. Once you descend from Kennison Mt. you pretty much either have to cross the river or retrace your steeps up a very deep grade. Richwood and Marlinton,WV are the closest towns.