For this 3 day, 2 night spring backpacking trip, I’ll be hiking a 20 mile loop in West Virginia’s Cranberry Wilderness, part of the larger Monongahela National Forest. The specific area for this hike, located between the Williams River and the Cranberry River, is commonly referred to as the Cranberry Backcountry.
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For an easier read, check out my full blog post
Each of the 3 days will be comprised of three different “vibes”. Day one will mostly be a lowlands hike in the woods, day two will be primarily along the the beautiful Cranberry River, and day three will be a mossy, higher elevation ridge hike along Kennison Mountain.
With a new Amok Fjol XL tarp in hand to thwart the forecast of rain, each night will be spent hammock camping and testing the new Amok Draumr XL hammock, which Amok kindly sent for evaluation.
No permit is required to camp in the Cranberry Wilderness, but there are rules and regulations regarding backcountry camping. You can find more information on the USFS Cranberry Wilderness website https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mnf/recarea/?recid=12368
Full GPS track data, including campsites, water sources, etc, for this trip can be downloaded on in the above blog link or on my website’s Trip Data Page.
Trailhead Used: Kennison Mountain Trailhead Parking Lot, N38° 11.113′ W80° 16.837′
Hillsboro, WV 24946
Kennison Mountain Trailhead parking area has room for a half dozen dozen or so vehicles. No parking fee or permit required. Loop begins from the parking lot side of the road.
Trails Used, Day 1:
Begin at the Kennison Mountain Trail Parking Lot
At the intersection, head right (northeast) on the South Fork Trail
At the fire road, depart the South Fork Trail and head left (northwest) on the road.
Camp along the Cranberry River (1 mile after the bridge and South Fork Shelter)
This is a medium sized camping spot with space for multiple tents or hammocks. There’s an established fire ring with rocks for camp stoves, etc. It’s located right along the river, so there is no need to pack in water. If taken, there is another option one tenth of a mile up on the right, where Lost Run meets the Cranberry River.
Day 1 Mileage: 6 miles
Day 1 Gross Elevation Gain: 217 feet
Trails Used, Day 2:
Continue northwest on the fire road.
Camp along the banks of Cranberry River, near House Log Shelter
This is a large camping area with multiple tents or hammocks. There are spots to camp right by the shelter, or if it’s busier,, there are more options along the river, a few hundred yards downstream from the shelter. Established fire rings are at those locations, as well as by the shelter, which also has two picnic bench and a nearby privy. All of these spots are right along the river, so there is no need to pack in water.
Day 2 Mileage: 5 miles
Day 2 Gross Elevation Gain: 207 feet
Trails Used, Day3:
Continue a short distance southwest on the fire road.
At the sign for Kennison Mountain Trail, ford the Cranberry River (look for the blue diamond on the other side).
Stock up on water here, as it will be your last reliable source for the rest of the day.
Continue on Kennison Mountain Trail.
At the intersection with Frosty Gap Trail, head left (east) to stay on the Kennison Mountain Trail.
Pass intersection with South Fork Trail.
Return to parking lot.
Day 3 Mileage: 9 miles
Day 3 Gross Elevation Gain: 2,070 feet
Grand Total Mileage: 20 Miles
Grand Total Gross Elevation Gain: 2,494 feet
Notable Backpacking Gear:
Amok Draumr XL Hammock (flat laying hammock system) https://www.amokequipment.com/collections/draumr-xl-introduction
Amok Fjol XL Sleeping Pad https://www.amokequipment.com/products/fjol-xl-pad
Amok Borg Tarp https://www.amokequipment.com/products/borg-multitarp
EMS Longtrail 70 backpack https://go.magik.ly/ml/kait/
Mesh water bottle pockets by JustinsUL https://www.etsy.com/shop/JustinsUL
Hammock Gear Burrow 40 Top Quilt https://www.hammockgear.com/premium-burrow/
DIY Esbit Stove
Esbit Fuel Cubes https://amzn.to/2ZKE6Vp
Toaks 750ml Titanium Pot https://amzn.to/2GR7AJX
Sea to Summit Long Handled Spork http://amzn.to/2uyl5GJ
Katadyn BeFree Water Filter https://amzn.to/2WcjfYZ
Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Rain Jacket https://amzn.to/2XVxnX7
Outdoor Vitals Adventure Jacket, Loftek version http://bit.ly/2WHh940
Dutchware Folding Sit Pad https://dutchwaregear.com/product/folding-sit-pad/
Olight Wave LED Headlamp https://amzn.to/2D443Vq
Garmin Oregon 650 GPS https://amzn.to/2WFzsps
Casio ProTrek PRW-2500 https://amzn.to/2FPpAmd
Spot Messenger https://amzn.to/2WiDO6o
Mountain House Backpacking Meals https://amzn.to/2FPpAmd
Disclosure: A commission may be earned on some of the links on this post.