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.
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Reviews For The Cranny Crow/Big Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
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.
This was a great hike for a beautiful fall day. Very few people on the trail: 2 families hiking, one couple on horseback. We started at the suspension bridge where there is parking for only 3-4 cars. The strenuous part of the hike was the first portion leading up to the top of the ridge. There are a number of great views along the climb. Once you get onto the ridge the trail becomes easy, almost on contour. The views of the surrounding areas become less evident. The woods have little or no underbrush so you get a good appreciation of your surroundings. The view at the North end of the trail is wonderful. Also to be considered is that the trail is soft on the feet, hardly any rocky sections.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 03, 2011
This was a pretty good hike, taking a little under 6 hours with stops for pictures, with lots of great views! I wasn't able to locate the start of the trail with the bridge and parking area, but did park at the Horse Stables and followed the White Oak trail up to the right, following the orange blazed trail and sign. At the first overlook there was a notebook and hidden geo cache, pretty neat. The trail is well maintained and signs are new, EXCEPT ONE! There is a fallen old wooden sign with rocks around it, THAT IS WHERE YOU MAKE THE LEFT TO FOLLOW THE RED TRAIL, if you follow the yellow, it leads to some neat boulders, but that trail does end. Once I got back on track I heard lots of groaning and eventually saw a bear. From a distance it sounded like dogs, but I learned otherwise that there were 3 baby (5’ tall) cubs that had lost their mother and were crying for her. They were harmless, but I made sure to make lots of noise so they wouldn't follow me. Continue following Big Ridge Trail to the left and reaching the meadow with shelter and restrooms (bring your own toilet paper). About 30 minutes later I reached the tower and cabin, definitely neat to see. Continue on the trail about another hour, passing Miller's Rock and you will reach Big Ridge Overlook. The park/trail was very wildlife friendly, which I was surprised with since there were lots of horse droppings in the beginning and still noted throughout the rest of the hike. Seeing about 9 deer, the cub, and finding the geo cache all made for a great hike! I highly suggest this day hike!