Get the most of your visit to Cranesville Swamp Preserve. View All
Binoculars, field guides, and a camera may be useful. View All
The Nature Conservancy first began to protect Cranesville Swamp in 1960. Since then, the preserve has grown to encompass nearly 2,000 acres through land purchases and donations. We're grateful for your generous support for our efforts. Will you help us continue this work?
Why You Should Visit
A window into ice ages past, Cranesville Swamp is located in a "frost pocket," an area where the surrounding hills capture moisture and cold air that conspire to create a landscape more reminiscent of habitat found much further north in Canada. Given Cranesville Swamp’s lush forest and wetland, it’s not surprising that it is home to an exceptional variety of animals. In total, more than 50 rare plants and animals live at Cranesville.
An information booth identifies several trails, one of which includes a quarter-mile boardwalk over the swamp. Admission is free.
Four hour drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., just past Deep Creek Lake.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
In 1965, Cranesville Swamp was one of the first National Natural Landmarks designated by the National Park Service. The mountain peatlands created by this rare mix of altitude, temperature, and precipitation are home to a spectacular range of plants, birds, and mammals.
What the Conservancy Is Doing Here
Planning a visit to the Cranesville Swamp Trail? Before your trip, download our self-guided audio tour to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist there with you in person!
In this audio tour, Rodney Bartgis, West Virginia’s state director, and Kevin Dodge, Garrett College Wildlife professor, discuss bog plants, birds, bears and how the area will respond to climate change.
Step 1: Download the Cranesville Swamp Trail audio tour map. This map will help identify which audio tracks to play based on your location on the trail, so make sure to take a copy with you on your trip.
Step 2: Download and save each of the below mp3 files to your handheld device. Play the corresponding track when you reach a waypoint along the trail. Listen to them all or pick & choose based on your interests!
(All files are .mp3 and should download automatically once clicked. If you have trouble downloading, right-click each file and then select 'Save')
Take a virtual trip to Cranesville Swamp Preserve!
Visiting the Preserve
Cranesville Swamp Preserve is open year-round during daylight hours for nature walks and birding in designated areas.
If you want to see, hear and smell the swamp’s plant and animal life — take a hike! There are five trails to choose from, all less than 2 miles long. There are some wet and boggy areas, so please bring proper footwear.
One of the highlights of the preserve is the 1,500-foot boardwalk, which allows for easy exploration over the wettest parts of the bog. Take your time and get a closeup look at the sphagnum moss, sundew and tamarack.
What to See: Plants
What to See: Animals
How to Get the Most from Your Visit
From Baltimore/DC (approximately 3.5 hours): From either I-270 or I-70, head to western Maryland, in Hancock, take I-68 west to exit 14/Keysers Ridge and follow Route 219 south for 19 miles. From Route 219, turn right (west) on Mayhew Inn Road, and after 1.4 miles turn left on Bray School Road. In 1.6 miles at a T intersection, turn right on Oakland/Sang Run Road (Route 15). After 1 mile, turn left on Swallow Falls Road and follow for 2.6 miles to a sign for Youghiogheny Mountain Resort. At the sign, take a hard right on Cranesville Road. After approximately 4 miles, turn left onto Muddy Creek Road and immediately park on the gravel behind the red house at the corner of the intersection. Our informational kiosk with brochures, trail guides, and other information can be found here. To get to the trail head for the swamp, visitors must take a left back onto Cranesville Rd. and take the next left onto Lake Ford Rd. Take a sharp right curve in the road and stay to the right at the fork. Stay to the right at the next fork in the road, and Cranesville Swamp is 0.2 mile down the gravel road. Park in the lot.