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Difficulty I-III
Length 15 Miles
Flow Range 4.60 - 5.50 FT
Flow Rate as of: 45 minutes ago 2.24 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 09/10/2016 3:42 am

River Description

Putin: FS 102 (carry in from the locked gate)

Takeout: FS 76 at Cranberry Rec Area

This is a beautiful section of river that begins high in the Monongahela National Forest. After parking your car at the end of FS 102 (there is a locked gate stopping motorized traffic), you'll need to shoulder your boat and continue a half mile or so down the road until you see the river on the right. You could access a very small river in about 0.3 mi/les by  turning right, onto the Cow Pasture Trail, but you'll find a somewhat bigger river about 50 yards right of FS102 about 3/4 mile from the gate, where the Little Branch joins from river right. Either way, you'll be putting in on the South Fork of the Cranberry. For the first few miles of the run the small stream meanders through brush and over beaver dams. There are beautiful mountain vistas in all directions. The South Fork of the Cranberry drains the Cranberry Glades, which is a sparsely forested alpine marsh famous for it's flora and fauna that are usually found at far northern lattitudes. Keep in mind when running this section that it is always much colder up here than you think it's going to be, so dress accordingly. Eventually the river picks up steam as it enters the forest, and the gradient remains consistent for the remainder of the run. The stream is busy but not threatning, and there was one Class III rapid that is obviously run on the right. An old railroad grade follows the river for the entirety of the run. Chances are you'll see numerous fly fishermen throughout the course of the day. Keep an eye out for trees and enjoy the remarkable scenery of this wilderness run. The climate along with the flora and fauna change drastically from start to finish as you make your way from the high alpine swamp into a beautiful hardwood forest. The river mellows out for the last couple miles of the run and you'll notice a parking lot on the right that serves as a takeout.

If you want to add some spice to your life continue downstream and run the six mile middle section of the Cranberry. If the river was high enough for you to navigate the upper section, then the middle should be BEEFY and approaching Class V. The two sections combine to form a 21 mile stretch of river that takes around five hours to float.

Rapid Descriptions


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mike Beswick
3 years ago

Got a rare summer run on the upper Cranberry, from the Cranberry glades lower parking lot, to the start of the middle section. It ended up being over 15 miles, which made for a long day. In my infinite wisdom, I suggested we hike in on an intersecting trail ( the cowpasture trail ) and put on in the WV version of a mangrove thicket. After hacking through alders for around 3/4 of a mile, we decided to hike back to forest road 102, and couldn't locate it. It is very easy to get turned around in the glades backcountry, and we ended up thrashing around in the woods for over an hour, finally putting on a small stream full of alders, wondering if we were on the right river. The thickets finally began to diminish, and the river ( the south fork of the Cranberry ) started flowing through beautiful spruce forest, resplendent with blooming rhododendron After several miles of this, the current picked up, small class 2 rapids emerged, and continued dropping steadily for many miles. Down near the confluence of the north and south fork, there was a solid class 3, followed by several more busy 2-3 miles. Then a section that I believe is called the Roughs suddenly appeared. It is marked by a strong, very busy class 3 ( maybe low 4) followed by a steep blind drop, followed by another 7-8 foot steep slide. Easily comparable to the tougher rapids on the middle Cranberry, including S turn. There was still another 5 miles after this, and Carson and I found our concentration waning, having put on around 1:30, and finishing up around 7: 30 ( including the close to 2 hours of aimless hiking and boating through alders ) I'd highly recommend the run, for scenic beauty, and a lot of variation throughout the duration of the run. Be sure to hike down forest road 102 until the river appears boatable, unless you have extreme masochistic tendencies.

Gage Descriptions

The USGS gauge is below the bridge on FS 76.

The recommended minimum of 4.6 feet is approximately 600 cfs and the recommended maximum of 5.5 feet is approximately 1400 cfs.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

Charles Walbridge

After two years of intense negotiations an agreement reached to protect endangered species in the Cheat River Canyon. Allegheny Wood Products acquired roughly 5,000 acres in the Cheat Canyon below Albright, WV in 2003 for $9.75 million. When they began building roads and cutting trees the following year the government took no steps to enforce the Endangered Species Act. A lawsuit was filed in 2005 by Friends of Blackwater Canyon, the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Cheat Lake Environmental and Recreational Association. Although American Whitewater was not a party to the litigation we are gratified that an agreement was reached and commend both parties for their efforts.

Steve McLuckie


John Petretich


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1206838 09/10/16 Steve McLuckie Minor change to text, relocated put in to minor confluence close to FR102
1192157 08/20/05 John Petretich n/a