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Cranberry Wilderness

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Photograph taken in  the Cranberry Wilderness


The United States Congress designated the Cranberry Wilderness (map) in 1983 and it now has a total of 47,742 acres. All of this wilderness is located in West Virginia and is managed by the Forest Service.


The 47,815 acre Cranberry Wilderness is located in Pocahontas and Webster Counties, West Virginia. Broad mountains are dissected by deep and narrow valleys with elevations ranging from 2,400 feet to more than 4,600 feet in Cranberry Wilderness, the largest Forest Service Wilderness Area in the eastern United States. Here on the Allegheny Plateau, the Wilderness contains the entire drainage of the Middle Fork of the Williams River and the North Fork of the Cranberry River. The Williams River forms the northern Wilderness boundary, and the South Fork of the Cranberry River marks the southwestern boundary. You'll find primarily Appalachian hardwoods, but there are also stands of red spruce at the highest elevations. Cranberry Wilderness is contained within the Black Bear Sanctuary. Black bears are abundant and share the Wilderness with white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, grouse, rabbits, mink, bobcats, and foxes. Naturally acidic water limits the fish populations, and the streams are not stocked. Frost may occur any month of the year. Precipitation (rain or snow) falls in winter, spring, and fall. Winter snow may block road access. More than 70 miles of maintained hiking trails provide access to the area. Trails follow both the rivers. The Middle Fork Trail runs for 9 miles, and the North Fork Trail for 7.5 miles. There are no trails maintained for horses and no bridges over streams. Take caution fording streams during high water.

Planning to Visit the Cranberry Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Cranberry Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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