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Falls of Hills Creek and Cranberry Glades

Located in the Monongahela National Forest, the Falls at Hills Creek Scenic Area includes three waterfalls: the Upper Falls is 25 feet high, the Middle Falls is 45 feet, and the Lower Falls is 63 feet, making it the second highest in West Virginia.  While the trail is only about 1.5 miles one way, you climb approximately 400 steps in each direction.

Lower Falls at Hills Creek Scenic Area is 63 feet high

Lower Falls at Hills Creek Scenic Area is 63 feet high

Life proliferates on an old stump at Hills Creek Scenic Area

Life proliferates on an old stump at Hills Creek Scenic Area

The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is another part of the Monongahela National Forest located a short distance from the Falls of Hills Creek.  This area protects the largest bog in West Virginia, which harbors plants most similar to the “muskegs” of northern Canada.  These include cranberries, sphagnum moss, and at least two carnivorous plants (the purple pitcher plant, and the sundew).

Cranberries grow close to the ground

Cranberries grow close to the ground

An unusual fern grows in this bog which is a bright orange (or burnt orange) that contrasts with the greens and reds of the area.  Small white flowers add highlights to the colorful display.

Cinnamon Fern displays a bright orange color that contrasts with the greens and reds of the bog

Cinnamon Fern displays a bright orange color that contrasts with the greens and reds of the bog

The glades offer a number of trails for hiking and horseback riding, plus a boardwalk over a bog.  We hiked about half of the 7-mile Cowpasture Trail, which traversed the periphery of the bog on higher ground.

A bridge on Cowpasture Trail

A bridge on Cowpasture Trail

The forest trail wandered among several different types of evergreen ground covers that were no more than 4-6 inches high.  One had a spiral branch pattern, another had a branch pattern best described as a fractal, and a third had random branches similar to a common pine tree.  This last one was blooming.

Evergreen ground cover in bloom

Evergreen ground cover in bloom

I look forward to a return visit for additional hiking.

References:

Falls of Hills Creek – US Forest Service

Falls of Hills Creek

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

Cranberry Glades – Wikipedia

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Mark Bobb

Mark Bobb loves to travel and do photography in his free time.

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