hiking, birding View All
At Cranesville Swamp, the elements of wind, water, mountains, and temperature have created a landscape that is both beautiful and rare. In combination, these climactic elements have produced a natural occurrence known as a “frost pocket” – a low area that collects moisture and cooler temperatures. As weather travels west-to-east across North America, the hills surrounding Cranesville Swamp channel precipitation and chilled air into the valley, which make the preserve one of the coolest and soggiest spots in West Virginia.
The greatest threats to Cranesville Swamp Preserve and its wildlife result from climate change, the impacts of historic logging,incompatible development, invasive species and deer overbrowsing. The Conservancy has been working to mitigate these threats through land acquisition, forest and swamp habitat restoration, wildlife habitat research, and education efforts. Highlights include:
Play a role in supporting these important conservation efforts and make a gift today!
Cranesville Swamp Trail Audio Tour - New!
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')
Explore this remarkable preserve, a place to remember.
The cool, wet environ of Cranesville Swamp has over thousands of years fostered the formation of peat – made of compacted sphagnum moss that creates a nutrient-poor environment as it breaks down. Few trees can survive in the resulting bog, but tall eastern hemlock, red spruce and tamarack prevail in the acidic environment. Lower to the ground, plants like sundew, cranberry and sedge thrive in open areas.
Throughout these rare and diverse wetlands communities, visitors to the preserve can witness a spectacular range of birds and mammals. Lucky visitors may spot the rare northern water shrew, or catch a glimpse of a bear rummaging through the shrub thickets surrounding Muddy Creek. Patience and binoculars may afford others a glimpse of any one of the more than 100 bird species found at Cranesville, such as alder flycatcher, Blackburnian warbler, or the saw-whet owl – which nests in stands of red spruce and hemlock in the conifer swamp forest.
The following are not permitted at Cranesville Swamp Preserve:
Cranesville Swamp Preserve is open year-round during daylight hours. Please respect neighboring homeowners by staying on the preserve.
From Morgantown (approximately 1.5 hours):