Random (but not really)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Traveling WV: Harpers Ferry

We’d hoped to catch the last of the state’s color at Harpers Ferry, but it was past peak, and the weather never cleared, so it was a grey day.

Despite that, I enjoyed walking around Harpers Ferry, especially the old buildings and fieldstone walls.

“May be uneven” is a bit of an understatement.

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Just a little uneven.

I took a lot of pictures of the stairs, because I find them beautiful and fascinating. You can click through any picture to get to Flickr.

The tunnels and such from when the town was water powered.

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I wish the clouds had cleared for a little bit, because I wanted some better pictures of the old church.

Not that it stopped me from taking a million pictures.

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As I said, plenty more pictures if you click through to Flickr.

Written by Michelle at 5:12 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

I decided a couple weeks ago that for fall pictures, visiting places during the week would be less crowded and thus much nicer. We still saw people at New River Gorge, because I wanted to hike some of the best views, but it was not crowded, which was lovely.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Long Point
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 1779-2106 ft (539 ft gain)
Temperature: 67-70 F

They spent the summer doing a lot of work on Long Point, and it’s now open again. They replaced the board walk with a causeway, raised the trail in several of the muddy places, and rerouted the trail in other places.

All of which is a sign of how heavily used that trail is, and why you should hike it during the week, rather than the weekend.

Of course, there is good reason the trail is so busy. Because of this view.

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And also because of this view.

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Even this view:

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The other trail we took was Endless Wall out to Diamond Point.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Endless Wall (to Diamond Point and back)
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 1838-1980 ft
Temperature: 70-68 F

One day we’ll hike the entirety of Endless Wall. But since it’s generally the last hike of the day, since Diamond Point is prettiest in late afternoon/early evening, I don’t expect it to be any time soon.

I actually think the view at Diamond Point is nicer than Long Point, but you can’t see the bridge as clearly, so perhaps that’s why it’s less popular with non-climbers.

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The sun and clouds were really uncooperative, so this is one of the best pictures I got. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was even prettier than this.

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Written by Michelle at 9:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hiking WV: Roaring Plains (Monongahela Nat’l Forest)

The Roaring Plains are only 3 miles from Dolly Sods, but aren’t quite as crowded (which is nice). We saw people on the trail, but not a constant flow, the way our last hikes at Dolly Sods have been.

Compared to last weekend, we had a relatively easy hike–most of the trail was relatively flat, with only a few steep sections.

Location: Roaring Plains West
Trail: South Prong Trail (partial)
Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation: 3929-4217 (676 feet climb)
Temperature: 60-57 F

The view of the valleys below was mostly just out of sight. This was the best view of the hike.

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But don’t think that made this a bad hike. It was a beautiful hike.

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Written by Michelle at 8:42 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hiking WV: Blackwater Canyon Rim

This was not a true hike, because we had difficulty getting there (you can’t enter trail head into the GPS, then we both misread what the road sign was saying) so we ended up wandering briefly around both ends of the Canyon Rim Trail, as well as climbing up Olsen Lookout Tower.

Location: Backbone Mountain, Monongahela National Forest
Trail: Blackwater Canyon Rim Trail
Elevation: 3200-3785

I did climb Olsen Lookout Tower, but since this is me, I was very slow and careful and did not stumble or fall once!

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The view from the tower. We had two separate 360 views this weekend. Pretty impressive.

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On the other side of the trail, we found this lovely waterfall.

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We will hike this entire trail eventually.

Written by Michelle at 7:36 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Dolly Sods

After hiking to Chimney Top, we weren’t up for much more of a hike, so we headed across the valley to Dolly Sods.

And I do mean directly across the valley.

That’s the North Fork Mountain Range:

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A closer look–you can see Chimney Top.

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But of course the reason we went was because it’s full-on fall at Dolly Sods right now.

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I love the beauty of my state so very much.

Written by Michelle at 5:04 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Chimney Top

One of the places I found that I wanted to hike was on the North Fork Mountain, up to Chimney Top. In a long weekend of stunning views, this was the best of the lot. Which is good, because it is a long, steep hike, so you deserve the reward when you reach the top.

The trail to Chimney Top is off the North Fork Mountain Trail and marked by two large rock cairns. Along the trail there are views of the west side of Dolly Sods, but if you struggle all the way up to Chimney Top, and the climb onto the rocks (I was hesitant initially but it was worth it) you have a natural 360 view.

It is stunning.

Location: North Fork Mountain
Trail: North Fork Mountain Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles (only to Chimney top & back)
Elevation: 1130-3180 feet (2063 feet)
Grade: 15.4% (avg)
Temperature: 74-80 F

Here is a 180 view facing the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

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Here is a view facing north and west.

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Facing south.

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There were several scrub pine that kept me from getting a shot I liked facing west, but it was still beautiful.

This is the view I had after reaching the top of the trail and collapsing in the nearest shade where I drank water and considered taking a brief nap.

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The rocks themselves are fascinating.

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It was stunning and beautiful and I highly recommend the hike–although bring extra water, because it is STEEP.

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This hike is nor for everyone, but if you think you can manage 2 1/2 miles straight up the mountainside, I do recommend it for the view.

Written by Michelle at 4:52 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Spruce Knob

This was more of a short wander than a hike, but the colors were better from Spruce Knob.

Also, it was warmer than I have ever known it to be at Spruce Knob. I normally wear multiple layers, and last visit, at the end of May, I was wearing gloves to be more comfortable. Saturday it was in the lower seventies.

Location: Spruce Knob
Trail: Whispering Spruce Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation: 4865-4935 feet
Temperature: 72 F

You can see the color change moving down the mountainside here.

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And here, some beautiful color.

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You really can see quite far from the highest point in WV.

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A beautiful walk.

Written by Michelle at 12:57 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Seneca Rocks

We decided a long weekend was in order, to enjoy the clear skies and the color changes in the Monongahela Forest.

It was far warmer than it should have been, and the color change in this area wasn’t much, but it was still a beautiful hike.

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation: 1670-2503 feet (829 ft elevation)
Grade: 9.7%
Temperature: 74-80

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Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

It’s mid-September, which means some areas in WV are starting to see leaf change. Color change was just starting in the Cranberry Wilderness, which was pretty, however the day was overcast, so it wasn’t good for taking pictures of the landscape.

It was, however, still a lovely day for a hike.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trails: North Fork, West Fork Trails
Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation: 3766-4425 feet (751 feet rise)
Temperature: 63-52 F

These two trails are old forest roads, so although we dropped in elevation, it was a relatively gentle drop. It was also very interesting so see the wilderness taking over the old road.

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The Middle Fork Trail followed the Middle Fork of the Williams river, and since you’re heading down the mountain, the Middle Fork gets bigger as you go.

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You can see the color starting to move down the mountain.

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Here is the Glade itself, looking off the boardwalk. If there had been sunlight, it would have been even more stunning. But even without it is impressive.

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Written by Michelle at 9:06 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hiking WV: Seneca Creek Backcountry

Saturday was a perfect day for a hike. After great debate, we headed to the Seneca Rocks-Spruce Knob area to hike at Seneca Creek Backcountry.

Location: Seneca Creek Backcountry
Trail: Swallow Rock Trail
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 3060-4039 feet (1139 ft elevation gain)
Avg Grade: 8.1%
Temperature: 55-58 F

The trails we’ve hiked at Seneca Creek Backcountry are out and back hikes that start at the bottom of the mountain and go up to the Allegheny Mountain Trail.

Unlike the other trail we hiked, there were not photogenic spots, so I took zero pictures. But it was a lovely hike, and one I would recommend.

Even if next time I’ll pick a trail with vistas for taking pictures.

Written by Michelle at 9:36 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hiking WV: Canaan Mountain Wilderness

It was a gorgeous day for a hike in Canaan. And also for wandering around Davis, after eating ice cream.

Location: Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trail: Table Rock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 3385-3500 feet
Temperature: 72 F

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Written by Michelle at 8:58 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

We’ve wanted to do a long hike in the Cranberry Wilderness for quite awhile, however, a 2+ hour drive, then a long hike, then another 2+ hour drive was… unappealing.

So we’ve spent the past couple months gather things we’d need for an overnight trip where there aren’t hotels, Michael rented a tent from the Rec Center, and we were off!

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trails: North-South and Lick Branch trails and FR 76
Distance: 9.6 miles
Elevation: 2552-3795 feet (1618 feet elevation gain)

One of the books I have recommend this hike in the opposite direction.

No.

The direction we went–North-South trail followed by Lick Creek Trail and then taking the road back is the way you want to do this look.

First, the North South trail is fine, but it’s steep from the campsite to the ridgeline–about a 9% grade. And although it’s pleasant enough, it’s not the most rewarding view.

Although we did amuse ourselves.

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That sign? It’s warning you that no motorized vehicles are allowed on the Wilderness.

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There is another sign, in a wide view showing you the the surrounding trail.

There is no way you could GET a motorized vehicle to where these signs were, unless it was a hovercraft, and even then it’d be chancy. There were endless fallen trees, lots of going through narrow passages etc.

So, I giggled every time I saw those signs someone was forced to place in an area already inaccessible to motorized vehicles.

Also found a newly placed marker!

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And several swarms of butterflies.

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But, it wasn’t anything spectacular. No views down into the various valleys, etc.

Here is the start of Lick Creek at the top of the Lick Creek trail. Now things are starting to get pretty!

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And this is the end of the trail–pretty much visible from the forest road (and by road, I mean Fire Trail type road, closed to cars but accessible in an emergency).

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Why put the prettiest thing at the start of the strenuous part of the hike? What is your reward for finishing? A 9% grade? Bah humbug.

Additionally, since the last couple miles were on the forest road, that meant we were able to stretch our legs and walk out the kinks from the ascent and descent. Nice! And the road is along the river! So pretty!

So my recommendation is start this loop from the gate. Unless you’re a masochist, in which case this probably isn’t a long or miserable enough hike for you, so why bother?

Written by Michelle at 7:14 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

We managed to spent the night in Canaan, so we took a long hike at Dolly Sods (most of our Saturday hikes are limited by the fact we have to drive 2-3 hours there and then 2-3 hours home after hiking). So it was nice to know that we could have until we were tired and not have to worry about a long drive afterwards.

Location: Dolly Sods
Trails: Valley View, Rocky Ridge, Raven Ridge, Bear Rocks Trails
Distance: 11.0 miles
Elevation: 3817-4198 feet (1447 feet ascent)

I took about a zillion pictures, because the Dolly Sods area is gorgeous.

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Written by Michelle at 7:49 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Tea Creek Wilderness

We hadn’t been back to the Cranberry area but once since last year’s flooding, so it was beyond time we went back.

We now have a new place we need to spend more time hiking.

Location: Tea Creek Wilderness
Trail: Tea Creek Trail (partial)
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 3579-3022 feet (557 feet)
Temperature: 70-72 F

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Remains of the old railbed.

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We are definitely coming back here to hike.

The only downside is that the restaurant we usually stopped back coming back from Cranberry was destroyed in the flooding. Any restaurant recommendations in the Richwood area? (Or between Richwood and Summersville?)

Written by Michelle at 9:24 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Almost One Year Out from the Flooding

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the devastating flooding that his a good portion of WV. One of the areas that was badly hit was Richwood, which was flooded by the Cherry River.

As we drive through yesterday, there are still condemned buildings standing waiting to be torn down. There are still homes that are lived in that remain in serious disrepair (some of that existed before the flooding). I didn’t take any pictures of this, because it felt like gawking, and invading the privacy of an area that has already suffered enough.

That said, there was also obvious evidence of rebuilding, and the road was in good repair, but still it’s heart-rending to see the continued struggle of the people in this area.

We hiked above the Cranberry Wilderness which is upstream of Richwood. Please keep that in mind for these pictures one year out of the flooding.

Here is how part of the trail looked–I took this picture because you can see the old railroad ties–much of this trail is on an old logging track. Other areas were a more narrow path with high vegetation on either side of the trail.

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Here are parts of the trail that were flooded / washed out:

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Take a close look at the debris in the above picture. Notice anything? It wasn’t until we were coming back down the mountain that I realized I saw no human trash–just tumbled trees and stones and branches.

That was the one nice thing I took out of the flood damage. That in the woods, those who hike and use the paths keep the area clean of trash and human debris.

You could hardly tell there had one been a bridge here. And we saw no signs of the bridge or human-hewn boards in the area.

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Another washed out bridge. This is at the head of where several different trails branch out. You had to ford the stream to cross here, which might not be doable after a heavy rain.

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So that’s how things looked in the Richwood / Cranberry Wilderness area just under a year out from the flooding.

Something to consider.

Written by Michelle at 9:06 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Traveling WV: Spruce Knob

Spruce Knob is the highest point in WV. We generally wander up here after visiting Seneca Rocks. Sometimes there is snow, but yesterday it was just windy and chilly.

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Written by Michelle at 9:26 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Seneca Creek Backcountry

Since I had two different maps, we decided to tempt fate (and ignore the murderous GPS) and take a different way down from Spruce Knob.

We did NOT get lost, and we found a gorgeous trail to hike.

Location: Seneca Creek Backcountry
Trail: Elza Trail
Distance: 2.9 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3169-3982 feet (813 feet)
Uphill Grade: 10.6%

We didn’t hike the whole trail, because I decided I was done with uphill for the day. So we reached the point of being tired (and hungry) and then turned around and hiked back down.

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It was one of the nicest hikes we’ve taken in months, despite being all uphill. We crossed one creek, and then hiked up the mountain beside another. Despite being the Friday for memorial day (and seeing zillions of tents and campers setting up for the weekend) we didn’t pass anyone along the trail, and all we heard was the wind and the creek.

It was a restful, lovely, hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV (and Maintaining the Light): Seneca Rocks

As we have done for the past four years, we again hiked up Seneca Rocks to remember my cousin Ben on his birthday. And because we’re remembering Ben, we do the hike up without stopping, going as fast as we are able. Because that is how Ben would do it.

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 2484-1582 feet (902)
Temperature: 58 F

Hike up (starting from the sign @ bridge)
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation: 1587-2446 feet (859 feet)
Grade: 11.7 %
Time: 35 minutes

Last year, starting from Roy Gap Road (which was impassible this year) we took 40 minutes.

At the top, wearing my Maintain the Light shirt. (Which I took off right after, because it is heavy 100% cotton and HOT to hike in. I am only willing to suffer so much.) The crag is up and behind me. Because of the rain, we were more cautious than normal scrambling up there.

Happy Birthday Ben.   Once again we hiked straight up without stopping in your memory.

I do mean impassible. We have had a lot of rain this year, and a lot of rain leading up to our hike yesterday. (It even drizzled a bit on us at the top.)

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Seneca Rocks was used by the 13th Corps Mountaineers for Combat Assault training during WWII. I wonder if this is left from that time? (The rest of the WWII combat training done in the area was less benign, leaving UXO in many areas that eventually became Wilderness areas.)

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The view across the top of the crag looking south. The weather had cleared just a bit while we were up there.

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The rocks at the top of the crag.

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Looking SSW past some of the rhododendron growing along the wider edge of the crag.

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Here is part of the view, looking SSW, from as far up the crag as I was willing to scramble. (I’m not proud. I mostly butt-scootch up there. I know myself.)

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Written by Michelle at 7:36 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Although last week’s snow is gone, it was a clear, beautiful day at New Rover Gorge.

We spent a good deal of time poking around Wolf Creek. One area was easy to get to, the other–less so.

Location: New River Gorge: Canyon Rim Area
Trails: Timber Ridge, Long Point, Fayetteville, Park Loop Trails
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1784-2151 feet
Temperature: 34F

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Map of the Hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hiking WV: Cranberry Backcountry

We’d discussed hiking in the Cranberry Wilderness, but I’d wanted to visit the Nature Center, since it closes mid-October. To get to the trails we’d considered, we’d have had to either back-track to Richwood, or take the Highland Scenic Highway all the way around the wilderness, so we instead decided to walk on the forest road past the boardwalk and see where that took us.

We took the North Fork trail up to the Kennison Mountain trail and then turned around and came back down.

Location: Cranberry Backcountry
Trail: North Fork Trail
Distance: 5.0 miles
Elevation: 3380-4113 feet (Average 5.6% grade)

There were a couple of steepish sections, but mostly it was a (relatively) gradual uphill hike (gradual for WV mind you).

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oops

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The lower portion of the trail meandered across several creeks, most of which were flowing from the previous night’s rain.

It was really really pretty.

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If you’re looking to hike in more solitude than you’ll find in busier parks and forests (like our local forest, Coopers Rock) then I cannot recommend highly enough visiting the Cranberry Wilderness.

Written by Michelle at 10:02 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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