Below are about a dozen things we like to do, and some notes about the area.
Leisure Time Spent Outdoors
The point, to being remote in the moutains away from work and home, is to be at our leisure with the ones we love, in a setting that stimulates us differently. We cherish these moments immensely as they strengthen and solidify our relationships.
Swimming and Puddle Jumping
As summer settles in, the draw of the clean, cool water is irresistible. Enjoying a seat in a riffle with the water washing over you is a state of mind. The Caribbean has vast amounts of warm and salty water, while the mountains are comparatively frugal with thier cool, pure, refreshing waters. Definitive value.
We love fishing the Monongahela’s streams and rivers. What a blessed creation! How well it endures. How amazingly committed are the many in stewardship over it – individuals, agencies, and private organizations.
Scenic Williams River
The testimony of the scenes is that the river is awesome. Beyond the views, how pleasing are the aromas on the air, the sounds played by the movement and dance of the water, and the chilled caressing touch of the water on you.
The Cranberry Watershed
The most important thing we can tell you about the Cranberry River, Cranberry Backcountry, and the Cranberry Wilderness will not help you catch trout, but it is the reason why you can catch trout. What we have to say will strenghten your appreciation of your Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Trout Unlimited (TU).
The Cranberry River is the nations’s witness, and the material fact, that the aquatic life in a pristine mountain wilderness dies from the assult of acid rain. The waters of the Cranberry River were once dead a few short decades ago to the aquatic insects it once held, and the trout that relied on them for their food. The acid rain starved and choked the native and self-sustaining trout until they were dead. Acid rain continues to be a threat, but DNR and TU are holding it at bay within the watershed. The river surges once more as a vibrant fishery in a most elegant and pure forest. Browns, Raninbows and Brookies are re-establishing their fragile reign throughout the river.
There are 36,000 acres in the designated Cranberry Wilderness area. The Cranberry River is 41 miles long. The totality of the Backcountry is nearly 900,000 acres. The area has distinct sections that are tailored to suit your style of adventure. With regard to fishing, the river is divided into specific sections, such as a children and handicap zone, a Catch and Release section, a very remote Fly-Fishing-Only area, and a couple of “standard statewide rules” sections.
The Cranberry Glades are a cluster of five small bogs in an area of 750 acres about 3,400 feet above sea level. The glades are surrounded by the Cranberry, Kennison, and Black mountains. There is an excellent parking lot and a half mile of boardwalk that loops out into the bogs. The views are gracious, and there is both wildlife and plant life to appreciate.
Each contributing mountain brook, feeding into the Williams and Cranberry Rivers, is a unique and crystal jewel awaiting exploration. Some have deep pools, some are very obsure, and some have spirited falls of water. All offer experiences, beauty to behold, and memories to gather and store away for later.
Hiking, Walking, and Strolling
All points within the forest are excellent from which to begin a stroll, walk, or hike. There are many documented hiking trails, dirt roads, abandoned railroad grades, and logging skidways to explore. Any season is a good season to hike, and the mind and soul will be refreshed, while the body becomes healthier for it.
While at the cabin we have planned our meals in advance for ease, simplicity, and enjoyment. We shop before arriving, so that we do not need to leave the forest except by choice. Below are a few photographs to inspire you meal planning.
Much of the Monongahela National Forest is open to bicycling opportunities including the Rails to Trails initiatives. All of the Williams River road is now paved, and large trucks used for commerce are not allowed to traverse the forest except by special permit. Many roads in the forest are gravel requiring bikes that can negotiate the small stones. One of the best rides in the forest is into the Cranberry Backcountry behind the lock gates along the Cranberry River.
Whether driving, bicycling, or walking, the country roads of the forest offers the beauty and promise that inspired the song Country Roads as sung by John Denver.
The Highlands Scenic Highway
The first 22 mile segment of the Highlands Scenic Highway leaves Hwy 219 on 150 breaking to the West, turning North briefly before circling wide through the Allegheny mountains reaching heights of over 4,5000 feet. Eight miles into the heart of the forest the highway has descended to the Williams River and immediately returns to the heights of the ridges. The 150 segment terminates near the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center at the juncture of 39 as the Highlands Scenic Highway turns West. This 21 mile segment follows much of the North Fork of the Cherry to Richwood.
There is no limit to subject matter for your photography.
Big Ditch Lake
In nearby Cowen there is a beautiful and peaceful lake where there is a oppourtunity for a pleasant summer evening’s walk on the trail that encircles it. The lake is a wonderful place to fish for bluegill, bass, and catfish on the open flat water.
Signs of Good Times and Great Memories
As we drive into the forest we are welcomed by a simple brown and yellow sign that creates anticipation, and as we drive out the sign triggers a dark chocolate moment of memories.
Walking or Hiking on the Trails:
In my teens and early 20’s I spent a lot of time on the trails of the forest. There are an unbelievable number of trails throughout the forest of varying lengths, gradient, and the ease/difficulty. We have some excellent links to some great maps on the “Location Page”. I look forward to rediscovering these wonderful trails. There are many wonderful trails just off the edge of the Highlands Scenic Highway.
Also check out The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy website: http://www.wvhighlands.org/
> Seasonal Hunting: Black Bear, Deer, Turkey, Ruffled Grouse, Squirrel, etc.
> River, Stream, and Brook Fishing for Trout (including Native Brook Trout) and other Fish.
> Hiking, Mountain Bicycling, Fall Color, Photography and Bird Watching.
> Canoe and Kayak
Cranberry Forest Farm Campground, LLC:
If your interests are not for the luxury of our cabin, but favor camping with a Camping Trailer, RV, or a Tent please check out what Matt and Racquel have to offer at http://www.cranberryforestfarm.com They have eight campsites along a private and stocked trout stream in a forested setting. They too are located within the boundaries of the Monongahela National Forest just down the road. 800 Williams River Road, Cowen, WV; (304) 203-3474 and (304) 216-7625.
Nearby and Local Attractions:
Check out this website for comments about fishing the Cranberry, North Fork of the Cherry, and the Upper portions of the Elk River. http://www.wvgameandfish.com/fishing/trout-fishing/wv_aa045703a/
West Virginia Trout Unlimited. This is a very useful site for trout fishing in West Virginia. http://www.wvtu.org/williams.htm
Williams River Trout Fishing: