West Virginia, renowned for its state park system, has another hidden gem in the Lost River State Park. The Cranny Crow/Big Ridge hike is a combination of a loop and out/back. With Cranny Crow, Cheeks Rock, and the Big Ridge vistas, as well as the ridge meadow, this hike has beautiful scenery around every corner in its trail system.
Note: As of October 2008 the blazes on several of the trails have become faded.
From the lower parking area at the Howard's Lick trailhead, cross the small suspension bridge and follow the blue blazed Howard's Lick trail 0.3 miles to the intersection of the state park service road and footbridge to the upper parking area. Turn right up the unblazed service road for 0.2 miles to the intersection of the Big Ridge Trail. Continue following the service road as it makes a sharp left continuing for another 0.5 miles to the intersection of the orange blazed White Oak Trail.
Turn right on the White Oak Trail as it continues to climb Big Ridge, then in 0.3 miles passes a small shelter and overlook. From here, the White Oak Trail will make several switchbacks before ending at the junction of the Millers Rock Trail and ridge. Turn right on the yellow blazed Millers Rock Trail, and arrive at Cranny Crow overlook in 200 yards.
Continue down the Millers Rock Trail, and pass several more overlooks of Lost River State Park, including Cheeks Rocks, before reaching the intersection of the orange blazed Virginia View Trail in another 0.3 miles.
Turn left on the Virginia View Trail for 0.6 miles to the junction of the yellow blazed Big Ridge Trail. Turn left uphill for 0.1 miles to the high meadow, large shelter, and intersection of the service road. Stay left on the service road and just after exiting the meadow pass the yellow blazed Millers Rock Trail that leads back down to the Cranny Crow Overlook. Continue downhill on the service road, and in 75 yards turn right on the continuation of the yellow blazed Millers Rock Trail.
From this point, the Millers Rock Trail will continue north along the ridge before rejoining the service road in 0.4 miles. Continue north on the service road and pass the old Big Ridge lookout tower, and caretakers cabin in 0.4 miles. From this point the Millers Rock Trail begins to descend along the ridge for 2.2 miles to first main vista to the east and south. Follow the trail another 0.1 miles to the main Big Ridge overlook.
Retrace the route back on the Millers Rock Trail past the lookout tower to the intersection where the Millers Rock Trail splits right, and the service road descends to the left. Follow the unblazed service road for 0.3 miles where the trail will pass a blue blazed trail leading to a spring. Just after passing the spring trail, the service road will enter the meadow and pass an old homestead. Continue through the meadow then start back down the yellow blazed Big Ridge Trail you ascended earlier.
In 0.1 miles pass the Virginia View Trail. Continue downhill on the Big Ridge Trail as it initially heads north, then makes a switchback back to the south. The Big Ridge Trail will continue for 1.7 miles where it ends at the service road you ascended earlier. Head down the service road for 0.2 miles to the upper parking area, then turn left back down the blue blazed Howard's Lick Trail to the lower parking area.
Interactive Hike Map BelowPrintable
Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left
Click the icons in the map below for location shots
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Cranny Crow/Big Ridge hike:
Reviews For The Cranny Crow/Big Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
Kids and dogs roaming around at the stream near the bottom near the suspension bridge. In about 1/4 mi it turned uphill and I didn't see anyone else for the rest of the day. Uphill is a slog, but not brutal or long. The trails are not clearly marked in the first 2 miles - I took the wrong one. It went uphill though, so I knew it was probably going to the same place. Once you're up, it's basically a flat to rolling well groomed trail with excellent views near the turn around.
Fire tower stairs are removed and it's from the 1930's, so it's not much of an attraction to climb as it is a landmark.
Spring flows into bathtub, where little miniature tadpoles were swimming in the green water. Very little water flow was coming out of the spring hose- it would have taken some effort and maybe 45 minutes to collect a liter from the spring hose, so you might want to bring your water up the hill with you.
Shooting activity down below, so near the fire tower, there was noise pollution from shooting - pop, pop, pop. pop, pop, pop. Sounded like they were enjoying the outdoors.
Also a lot of fresh bear scat from this point to the views/turnaround. Made me glad I wasn't camping.
Here is the kicker, once you get near the turn around, the views are amazing and there are some great level spots. Nice breeze. I'd brought some cheese, olive bread, and a pate. Perfect spot for an picnic.
Refreshed I sprinted back to the car, averaging about 3mi an hour for the hike.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 03, 2013
This hike is one of my favorite hikes. I thought I should tell everyone about a shortcut. Near the entrance to the park, on the right side as you go in there is a bridge that has been blocked off with a chain. Park across the street and cross the bridge and follow the unused service road up. When you get to where it forks (about 1/2 mile) follow the service road to the left and dont get on the trail on the right (although this is a shortcut toanother hike) continue about another 1/2 mile until you. reach the Cranny Crowe trail. Turn right and continue as normal. This has reduced my hike time. about 1/2 an hour. Be aware, though, the short cut is on a consistently steeper grade than the actual trail itself so once you get there the trail will seem really easy.
Date of Hike: Monday, July 29, 2013
As others say, the route up is steep, but the view at Cranny Crow overlook makes the climb worthwhile. If you are longing to fill your eyes with nearly untouched hills stretching in all directions, this is the place. It was a quiet weekday - we saw only two other hikers all day. We came down the mountain on the Virginia View trail, which I wouldn't do again it is little used and overgrown and doesn't offer much scenery. And if your knees are over 60, like mine, a hiking pole would be helpful on the descent.I suggest that you get your snacks and supplies into your daypack before you reach Mathias. Enjoy!
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Great trail. Went with my non hiking but active husband and my very athletic and trail savvy dog. The trail was very dog friendly but I recommend keeping them on leash most of the time because of the cliffs along with lots of loose rocks, and slippery leaf cover. Better safe than sorry. We saw one other couple while on the trail today. Saw some deer and birds but heard lots of gun fire on the first part of our hike. The shelter area was a really nice place to stop and have lunch. It was gated so we could let our dog free while we ate with out worrying about him at all. This was a really nice hike and we would do it again.
Date of Hike: Friday, March 16, 2012
This is a spectacular hike, the views are awesome. We happened to have picked a day where the sun was bright and warm. The blazes have been updated and there are new trail signs at each intersection you should not have any problem navigating this hike. I have seen some incredible sights while hiking but none will every be as exciting as what we saw while sitting in Cranny Crow Shelter. There was a loud rumble to our left and before you knew it there was a fighter jet on it's side about 500yds directly in front of us, right at eye level. We saw the jet heading north and take quick left around the ridge in front of us. Then it was gone. About 30 min later it made another pass. What a sight. The hair still stands up on the back of my neck when I think about it.