The CW is said to be the largest wilderness on the East Coast. Within the wilderness is the most remote spot in all of West Virginia and though the wilderness does not have a lot of elevation change and has few overlooks, it has a reputation for difficulty.
I used a map I found online (Link) to plot a course, coming up with a nice large loop that would keep me moving much of the time and would have me out for three solid days of hiking. Some of the trails I would be using are described as less popular, which might mean a little solitude along the way.
|I took the route marked in red. |
Routes marked in orange are the most popular in the wilderness.
|Many trails end at the Three Forks Trailhead. |
Some are even maintained.
|This stream crossing was almost immediate after leaving the trailhead.|
My feet were wet for the rest of the outing.
|One of many old rail beds in the northwest portion of the wilderness.|
|The Little Fork Trail ended at the North-South Trail.|
|Tumbling Rock Shelter from the road.|
|South Fork, Cranberry River, from my campsite.|
|View from the shelter.|
I continued east on the road, past a wonderful campsite that was hard to see from the road, and quckly came to the Tumbling Rock Trail. This was a 2.5 mile ascent which returned me to the North-South Trail segment I had hiked two years earlier. The N-S has several excellent campsites during its 5 miles, but it was way too early to stop. This part of the N-S Trail is in good shape and is exceptionally beautiful, though it is often very soggy and occasionally overgrown. Nevertheless, it is pretty level and easy to follow - you just have to accept having wet feet. I have included multiple photos taken along this section of trail.
|Some people should be banned from the wilderness.|
Like the folks that did this.
|I took a left off of the N-S Trail here.|
|I turned onto the Big Beachy Trail at this sign, |
right alongside one of the few meadows I'd seen in the wilderness.
|The beginning of the District Line Trail.|
|The County Line Trail was horribly overgrown. |
Here, you can see old blazes and a piece of marking tape further ahead.
|Sunday morning at the Marlinton Motel.|
Based on my experience here, I would recommend stopping at the Forest Service's Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, and inquiring about the condition of the trails. Be prepared to take an alternate route! This is a beautiful area, but it is also very unforgiving.