Nature January 30, 2018
A Walk Through West Virginia’s Cranberry Glades Is Like Walking On Another Planet
There is a place in Monongahela National Forest unlike anywhere else in West Virginia. With its red landscape and exotic plant life, Cranberry Glades feels a bit like walking on another planet.
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The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area consists of four bogs, also called "muskegs," reminiscent of the bogs up north.
The 750 acre area has a boardwalk running through two of the bogs in an effort to leave the fragile ecology undisturbed.
The Glades are actually part of the larger Cranberry Wildlife Management Area.
For a nice day trip, you can book a room at the Four Seasons Lodge at 320 North Fork Cherry Highway (55 WV-39) on the outskirts of Richwood. From there, you can follow the road away from town, stopping at the different trails along the way, such as Eagle Camp Trail and Kennison Mountain Trail. You can also turn off 55 on to Hill Creek Falls Road to view a gorgeous waterfall. No worry of getting lost here, as this road promptly dead ends at a parking lot adjacent to the falls. The 20 mile drive will eventually lead you to a turnoff on 102, where you can find Cranberry Glades and the three other trails that precede it. All these trails are marked with wooden signs on the side of the road.
In peak times, near the end of Autumn, visitors can see where the Cranberry Glades gets its name. The glades become vibrant red, and walking through this area becomes a surreal, almost magical experience. You will find a moment where you can easily imagine yourself on another planet. Perhaps Mars, if its red surface was comprised of grasses and bogs instead of dust.
The transformed landscape, visible along the boardwalk, is a sight to behold.
But the National Park Service asks that you do not venture off the boardwalk areas, so as to preserve this precious flora for others to enjoy for years to come. Don't forget to bring your camera, though. And extra batteries.
The boardwalk eventually leads into a lush forest, replete with unique forms of plant life you have probably never seen before in this country. These include many strange and exotic species of plant, some of which are even carnivorous.
After the boardwalk ends you are free to roam a bit more. Along the way, you will encounter soft ground entirely carpeted with moss. Walking through the woods on this spongy terrain creates that feeling of otherworldliness again. If you visit the area after moderate to heavy rainfall, you will find the ground, like a sponge, filled with water not perceptible until you step on it - so keep that in mind when choosing your footwear.
This area is so unusual to American hikers because of a great ecological migration that took place during the Pleistocene Epoch, when massive continental ice sheets deposited Canadian flora and fauna into the region. The Glades are the southernmost part of this migration. The plant life in the area are the descendants of species 10,000 years old.
For more information about Cranberry Glades, and to view a brochure, follow the link
Have you ever been to Cranberry Glades? Feel free to comment below and tell us all about it.
To learn more about West Virginia, check out
this little portion of Canada right here in the Mountain State.