Cranberry Glades - Hiking

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Summary

One of West Virginia's premier hiking areas, Cranberry Glades will amaze beginner and experienced hikers with its wild beauty and serene nature.

Written by

Joe DeGaetano

Distance

70.0 miles

There are more than 70 miles of trails that range from under 1 mile to more than 15 miles in the Cranberry Wilderness. Some of the trails don’t see much traffic and have very little to no trail signage. As a rule of thumb, the trails around the Cranberry Glades see more traffic and are better marked than the trails further away.

Destination Distance From Downtown

73.5 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

There are so many different options here that everyone from the newbie to the veteran hiker will find something that challenges them.

Time To Complete

3 hours

With so many trails, your time will vary, but you could spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several days exploring the options.

Seasonality

All Seasons

You can hike at Cranberry Glades year-round, but once it starts to snow, you’ll need snowshoes or cross-country skis.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

The Cranberry Glades area is a series of 4 bogs in the low-lying portions of the greater Cranberry Wilderness. The main attraction is the .5-mile long boardwalk that leads into the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. But, remember, the Glades are a part of the larger, nearly 50,000-acre protected Cranberry Wilderness, and that gives you several different options for hikes. Trails like the Cowpasture Trail or Kennison Mountain Trail are a couple of the many singletrack trails that will have you amazed at the wild beauty and serene nature of the surroundings.

What Makes It Great

If you only hike one trail in the area make sure you walk the half-mile boardwalk trail of the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. This walkway leads you into one of the most vibrant areas of the glades. Hiking down the boardwalk visitors will get to truly immerse themselves in the environment that is more commonly found in higher latitudes such as Canada. You will get close up views of unique (to WV) plants such as cranberries, sphagnum moss, skunk cabbage, and two carnivorous plants (purple pitcher and sundew).

Along the walk you can read about the plants and vegetation that inhabit this area using the interpretive signs, as well as get good long range views of the boggy terrain that makes up most of the surrounding landscape. If you happen to get there early in the morning, the mist and fog coming off the bogs is a surreal experience.

Another great thing about the area is that it is a very family friendly destination. Along with all the great hiking options in the region, there are numerous picture-perfect picnic spots to be had. It’s possible to go do a few short hikes in the first half of the day and then come back to your vehicle to picnic and fish for the second half of the day.

Who is Going to Love It

Everyone from families with young kids to elderly couples to experienced long-distance hikers will enjoy the trails around the Cranberry Glades. If you want a more mellow experience, stay close to the Highland Scenic Highway, and if you want more of an adventure, get on any of the longer trails to access the rugged beauty deep in the forest.

Because the Glades are so far removed from any city lights, stargazing is amazing here. The peat bogs create wide open areas that will get you a good view of the entire night’s sky. It’s worth bringing out the telescope!

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Access the Cranberry Glades through Richwood or Marlinton, WV. It is about a 30-minute drive from either town. The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is at the junction of Route 150 and Route 39/55. There is parking at the trailhead for the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, along with picnic tables and a bathroom.

Many of the other trails (including Cowpasture and Kennison Mountain) start at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center at the junction of Route 150 and Route 39/55, basically across the highway from the Cranberry Glades parking area.

There are other trailheads along the Scenic Highway. Check out the Cranberry Wilderness map for specific locations.

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Location

Cranberry Glades

38.203147, -80.265797

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