Cranberry Wilderness

Home Up

SCWDC Backpacking Trip: Cranberry Wilderness, WV

July 10,11,12,13, 1997

Cranberry Wilderness, West Virginia

Econo Lodge
Intersection of Interstate 64 and US Route 11
Lexington, VA

This trip was originally scheduled for the July 4th weekend. Due to a schedule conflict, the trip had to be changed to the following weekend. I anticipated that most people would not want to take a day off from work so I tentatively set the destination to Shenandoah National Park. The reality was that just about everybody preferred to take a day off from work so that we could go to a new area for this backpacking trip. So the destination is set back to the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia.

We will depart on Thursday evening and drive most of the way, stopping in Lexington, VA at the Econo Lodge. On Friday morning we will meet for breakfast at 7:00 am at a restaurant and complete the drive to Cranberry Wilderness. Total driving time from Columbia, MD to Cranberry is approximately 5 to 6 hours. From DC it should be about 4 to 5 hours. (The route that we are taking may be able to cut one hour off these times as we are bypassing most of the rural West Virginia roads.) We will begin backpacking on Friday morning and complete the trip on Sunday afternoon by 3:00 PM. That leaves the rest of the afternoon and evening for the return drive home. A limit of 10 backpackers will go on this trip.

Each participant is required to provide their own equipment and food. Plan on carrying food for Friday lunch to Sunday lunch, plus snacks. Assume that fires are not permitted and that all cooking will be done on a backpacking stove. People who do not have the necessary equipment can rent the large items (tent, backpack, sleeping bag, stove) from some of the local backpacking stores listed below. Since some of the participants are not experienced backpackers, I have described in more detail the equipment and procedures required. This trip is suitable for experienced, fit backpackers and strong dayhikers who want to try a backpacking trip.

Backpacking Equipment Suppliers

  • Recreational Equipment Inc.
  • Appalachian Outfitters
  • Eastern Mountain Sports
  • Hudson Trail Outfitters

As far as I know you can rent this stuff from at least the first two, possibly all four. I've never rented so I don't know firsthand. The backpack must fit you comfortably with 30 to 50 pounds in it. Obviously you want everything to be as light and small as possible. You will want to stuff most pack items in stuff sacks to reduce their individual volume. The tent should weigh about 3.5 pounds per person. Sleeping bag about 2 to 3 pounds per person. Night time temperatures should be no lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, worst case, probably more like 70. A summer weight sleeping bag should be adequate.

  • Some Necessary Equipment

  • sturdy, broken in hiking boots
  • tent or bivouac sack
  • sleeping bag plus pad
  • rain gear
  • some extra clothes
  • sunscreen, sunglasses, hat with brim
  • wool sweater or fleece jacket
  • light but warm knit hat
  • swimsuit
  • flashlight, extra bulb and batteries
  • compass
  • I will provide copies of the map
  • toilet paper + trowel
  • matches
  • pocket knife
  • biodegradable soap, wash cloth, towel
  • backpack
  • stove
  • food and water
  • necessary personal first aid items

Packing your pack

Place items that must be dry (sleeping bags, clothes, etc.) in a separate stuff sack or plastic bag(s). Place heavy items close to your back and high in the pack for men, somewhat lower for women. You want the center of gravity of the pack to be near the center of gravity of your body. The pack should fit you comfortably. If it doesn't, its either not adjusted or packed properly, or it was a poor choice of pack.

Keep items that you will need frequently or quickly in outside pockets or at the very top of the pack for easy access. These items include: water bottles, snacks, rain gear, pack rain cover, maps, compass, first aid kit, flashlight, etc.

Common Items

If people want to share tents, you can work that out for yourselves from the participant list. I will coordinate the stoves, water filters, and first aid kits so we aren't overloaded with them. We don't need one of each for each person. Obviously if anyone needs specific first aid or medical items, they have to bring them. If anyone has a health problem that I should know about, please tell me before you pass out.


Bring somewhat more food than you would normally eat. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are tasty, and nutritious but easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Also bring foods that will not spoil in the summer heat. Most, but not all, of my backpacking meals have to pass the "Lick Test". This test says that you must be able to prepare, cook, eat, and clean up after the meal by licking a single spoon or fork clean. Most backpackers consume ALL of their meals with a single cup and spoon.


Bring two quart or liter sized water bottles plus some way of purifying it. The water will have to be either boiled, treated with iodine tablets, or filtered. My filter is also a purifier and provides a fairly high flow rate.

Leave No Trace

We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. Repackage foods before you go in resealable, reusable containers (except for freeze dried items - use the pouch for heating and eating, and pack it out in your trash bag). Wash 200 feet from any streams with biodegradable soap or shampoo. Bury human waste at least 200 feet from camp and any streams.


The estimated cost is $39.00 per participant. This is for a single nights lodging in the motel Thursday night. If this is high we will use some of the money for Friday breakfast or a Sunday evening meal.

Trip Leader:

Ted Fryberger
6259 Deep River Canyon
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 443-917-2902

Directions from DC:

Take 66 West past Front Royal to
81 South to
11 South to
64 West or South just north of Lexington, VA
Econo Lodge is at the intersection of Interstate 64 and US 11 (stay here Thursday night)
From the motel take 11 North for a short distance to
39 West (toward Goshen) to
55 North to Edray
follow 55 / 219 North to 150 West or South (left turn only choice)
Follow to Cranberry Wilderness Visitors Center
We will meet at the visitors center on Friday morning

Copyright 2000 - 2023 by Ted Fryberger & DeepSoft, LLC, All Rights Reserved