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Cranberry Wilderness North-South Loop Trail

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Cranberry Wilderness

Cranberry Wilderness North-South Loop Trail is a 17.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Hillsboro, West Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, fishing, and backpacking and is best used from January until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 17.1 mi Elevation gain 1,916 ft Route type Loop
Dogs on leash Backpacking Fishing Hiking Running Forest River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife
Waypoints (3)
1
Camp 1
38.276412, -80.238579
2
Camp 2
38.259879, -80.323503
3
Camp 4
38.2906934, -80.3081584
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (9)
Photos (213)
Recordings (6)
Completed (14)
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Alex James
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BackpackingGreat!Over grownRocky

Hiked this trail (counter-clockwise) with a buddy on September 22nd-24th. We are both fairly experienced backpackers. The forest is beautiful, especially at high elevations. Pine trees, moss, and rhododendron produce a refreshing and somewhat magical environment. We stayed about 2 miles in on the first night. The next day we began the descent to the cranberry river. The descent was brutal. Rough, slippery ankle breaking terrain for about 3 miles, but it was well worth it for a break at the gorgeous river. After our rest we began the ascent, which was mile after mile after mile of a moderate incline. It surely wears you out! As you get further up the mountain, the ascent grows steeper. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. My friend and I can usually backpack about 22-24 miles a day (terrain dependent). However, after the slow going downhill, and brutal uphill, we set up camp after about 15. We took the North-South trail back to the car on day 3. The forest is beautiful and is well worth the tough trek around the loop. I would HIGHLY recommend a good navigation tool, especially for first timers, because the trails are really not marked well, and much of the North-South trail was overgrown and hard to find. Also, get as much water as you can at at the river! It’s hard to find after you begin your ascent. All in all, an awesome trip that we will do again.

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Amanda Malnikoff
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CampingMuddyOver grownRockyWashed out

As far as elevation changes, this trail definitely is kinder than most in WV. However, between the rain, overgrowth, and 1000s of downed trees, these were some of the most challenging 17 miles. We did the hike in “reverse”, heading uphill first and I would definitely recommend this. The river at the bottom is beautiful, and there are several great campsites. As you continue on, there are other campsites but definitely keep an eye out as there are lots of dead trees that seem to be leaning over them. It stormed overnight and the next day we had to climb over trees that looked freshly fallen, so be careful. No picturesque views, but the river was worth it. Definitely a work out!

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Al Rowing
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HikingBlowdownFloodedMuddyOver grown

Terrible but wonderful

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Travis Smith
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HikingBlowdownMuddyOver grown
First to Review

I backpacked this trail on May 30-31, 2020. I travelled counterclockwise, taking the North South Trail (#688) to Tumbling Rock Run Trail (#214) down to the Cranberry River. These trails are narrow, not blazed, overgrown in some areas, and with many downed trees. Many sections were quite muddy, mostly from water seeping from the ground and flowing down the mountain, as opposed to collected rain. I saw campsites not far from the trail approximately every mile. I made camp along the Cranberry River. Between House Log Shelter and North Fork Shelter, there are several nice campsites along the Cranberry River. The next day I hiked along the Cranberry River and then up the North Fork Trail back to the trailhead. The North Fork Trail was a little more clear, except about a mile section in the middle, where I lost the trail once despite someone kindly setting up many rock cairns to help. Campsites along the lower half of this trail about every 3/4 mile, but few campsites in the upper 3 miles or so. There really are not any water sources along the North-South trail until you reach Tumbling Rock Run and head down that trail about a quarter mile to where the creek begins. Water is plentiful from the North Fork of the Cranberry River along the North Fork Trail, except for about the last three miles toward the trailhead. Overall, this is a very nice loop into some remote areas of the Cranberry Wilderness. This is thick forest with very few if any "views" and is not a place I'd want to hike at night or late in the day as it is so dark. The forest is beautiful and a bit "magical". The Cranberry River is a beautiful freestone stream. In years past I've had great success catching trout in the Cranberry backcountry, but this trip oddly did not catch any fish or even see any, which is concerning.

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Corey Duke
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HikingMuddyRocky
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Reid Miller
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Running
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Mike Carrier
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Hiking
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Q G
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Hiking
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Stephen Wilson
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Hiking
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