Hiking Hacks: 10 Things To Bring On A Hike

If you decide you want to venture out into the wilderness and go on a hike, there are some essentials that you need to know. After reviewing the 7 principals of the Leave No Trace policy, you want to make sure what you carry around with you and wear on your body is appropriate so you do not regret going into No Man’s Land. So we’ve put together list of our top 10 things to bring with you on a hike:

Shoes – Before you decide on what shoes to wear, it’s best to research the terrain you will be hiking on. For short walks any type of trail shoes are acceptable but if you are going out for hours you might want to invest in a pair of hiking boots.

Map – Most of the trails in West Virginia have a map of that specific area. Always bring a compass so you know which direction you are facing and can follow your map. Sometimes in the middle of nowhere, there’s no signal so bringing a GPS is not advised.

Water – on long walks you might get thirsty so bringing water is a great idea. If you run out of water and plan on drinking from lakes or rivers bring a way to purify the water.

Food – on long walks you will be burning a lot of calories and you will feel hungry. You do not want to faint.

Extra clothes – if you get wet, if you get muddy or if it gets cold, having extra clothing on hand will be beneficial.

Safety items – flashlight, whistle and lighter. Self explanatory

First Aid Kit – also self-explanatory

Knife – you never know when you will need to cut strips of clothing to help bandage someone (if you forget the above item) or when you will need to cut branches or vines out of your way.

Sunscreen – as you sweat the sunscreen begins to lose effectiveness. Reapply to make sure you stay safe.

Backpack – to carry the above items!

Hiking In The Laurel Fork South Wilderness Area In West Virginia

The Laurel Fork South Wilderness is in the high-elevation lands of West Virginia and is part of the Monongahela National Forest. The wilderness area runs along the Cheat River’s Laurel Fork and borders Middle Mountain on its western border. This wilderness area sits across Randolph County Route 40 from Laurel Fork North Wilderness.

This wilderness area contains nine miles of hiking trails. The area was designated wilderness in 1983 and consists of almost 6,000 acres.

The Laurel Fork is home to wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, beavers, and bobcats. There are also black bear, although they are rarely spotted and there are a multitude of bird species. There are also brooks and creeks containing native brown trout and brook trout, but it is hard to cast because of the heavy underbrush.

There is a narrow valley created by the Cheat River and many long, slim ridges and steep slopes. Rich Mountain borders the area on the east and Middle Mountain on the west.

The forest is dominated by maple, beech, birch, black cherry, and yellow poplar. Meadows are found along the Laurel Fork. Winters can bring heavy snow, but most of the summer, temperatures are very pleasant. You do not get cell phone reception so you will not be able to access the internet to look at websites.

Two popular hiking trails are five miles each and follow the river starting at the central trailhead located at Laurel Fork Campground. From Forest Service Road 14, one trail heads north into the wilderness and three trails head south. There are no trails in the eastern part of the wilderness.

This wilderness area is not heavily visited, so a solitary hike is possible. The hike along the Laurel Fork is pretty flat and is a nice riverside hike. There are no loops in the trails unless the road is used.

This wilderness area is a pristine area with gorgeous views throughout. There are campgrounds available during the season.

Discover Laural Fork North Wilderness In The State Of West Virginia

In the year 1983 6,048 Acres known as Laurel Fork North Wilderness was selected by the Congress of the United States to become part of the lands protected under the Wilderness legislation. Once it received that protection the land was then given to the Forest Service of West Virginia to manage.

This Land is sometimes thought to be two areas but is separated by only a very marginal River and is therefore managed as 1 territory. In its mountainous areas, it reaches a height of over 3,700 ft. This area is a genuine Forest and is saturated by a number of kinds of trees such as black cherry, maple, yellow poplar, Birch, and many others. There are only a few open meadows and in this wild land, there are bobcats, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, beavers, and even some black bears.

For the bird lovers there are well over 200 different species in the area and for those who enjoy fishing, there are brown trout. Because of the forest and heavy brush, many areas are difficult to cast while fishing but the trout are fairly abundant. As part of protecting the land, there is a law that says ‘leave no trace’. This means that this land is designed for the wildlife and not for people, so when someone comes they should leave no trace of their ever having been there.

This means that a person should not take anything that they find and anything that they bring including their waste, should be disposed of properly. While it is unlikely that you would run into others because of the nature of this wildlife preserve if you are, then you should be considerate of them as well as the animals in the area.

Most motorized and mechanical transportation is prohibited by law on this and all land designated by the federal government as wilderness. These include aircraft, hang gliders, bicycles, motorized boats or motorcycles, and any other motorized equipment. The reason these and other things are prohibited by law is to protect the land and its original form without human prints being left on the land.

Interesting Facts About The Roaring Plains West Wilderness Located In West Virginia

The Roaring Plains West Wilderness which features an area of 6,792 acres is positioned around 3 miles to the Southwest of Dolly Sods Wilderness. The Canaan Valley State Park is approximately 5 miles to the North of the area.

The main access to this area is situated at Forest Road 70 and the Flatrock Run Trail, this access is gated but stays open during the hunting season in autumn. Vegetation in this area is extremely diverse and is made up of brush, red spruce, mixed hardwoods along with the under-story that includes rhododendron, grasses and bogs.


The Flatrock Plains and Roaring Plains areas include parts of Pendleton and Randolph Counties. These high-elevation plateaus’s make up the highest of the sphagnum bogs in the areas of West Virginia and contain extensive expanses of tree-studded and rocky plains that are surrounded by cliffs and rocky outcrops that offer outstanding views of surrounding mountains.

The elevations in this area range from 2,369 to 4,770 feet and this area is inclusive of the Allegheny Front which is the name given for the Eastern Continental Divide. The bogs in this area serve a purpose of regulating the stream flow on the headwaters on either side of the Front. The recreational trails offer loops in this area along with a connection to Dolly Sods Wilderness, Red Creek Plains and Canaan Valley which is further to the North. It’s quite pedestrian.

Around 180 inches of snow typically falls in this area annually that offers the opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The snow usually falls from the early part of October through to the early part of May. Around 5.5 square miles lies above or at the 4,500 foot contour which is what makes this the highest and largest flat-topped plateau in regards to Eastern North America.

Learn More About Spice Run Wilderness In The State Of West Virginia

West Virginia has a large mass of land that is largely untouched by mankind. For this reason, in 2009 the United States Congress chose Spice Run Wilderness to be protected under the Wildlife Preservation Legislation of 1964. In the 1960s President Johnson enacted the legislation which was designed to protect designated areas throughout the United States to preserve wildlife and the land as it originally was before mankind impacted it.

This area is 6,037 Acres and is managed by the Forest Service of West Virginia. The area is about three and a half miles wide and about 2 miles long. There are no trails or other human imprints on this land. For that reason, anyone who travels there will need to be prepared for a genuine wilderness experience.

It is recommended that someone who wants to go hiking or camping in the area either be someone experienced with doing so in the wild, or that brings an experienced guide. The area does have wildlife such as bobcats, some bears and other wildlife that could be dangerous. Of course, there is a wide selection of birds for those who want to participate in bird watching and there is some fishing in certain areas.

The purpose of protecting this and other similar land is to maintain it so there is little or no impact on it by mankind. The law defines this land as having primeval influence and character and is protected for the purpose of preserving the natural conditions of the area and to keep man’s imprint as unnoticeable as possible.

While the area is maintained by the Forest Service, volunteers play an important role in keeping the area intact as a wilderness. The Forest Service alone could not do everything that is needed and therefore the volunteers are imperative.

Otter Creek Wilderness – A Beautiful West Virginia Adventure

West Virginia’s Otter Creek Wilderness sits between Shavers Mountain and McGowan Mountain. Otter Creeks forms a valley and this is where most of the wilderness area is located. The wilderness area has 42 miles of hiking trails. The longest trail is Otter Creek Trail which is 11 miles.

The original wilderness area was 20,000 acres and was designated in 1917 when the U.S. Forest Service purchased the land as part of the national forest system. Another 698 acres of land were added to the Otter Creek Wilderness in 2009 by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act.

The Otter Creek Boom and Lumber Company heavily logged the area from 1897 to 1914. Even after the designation, the area was again logged from 1968 to 1972 before it was officially named a wilderness area.

This wilderness area is home to one of West Virginia’s largest black bear populations. Hikers must keep a cautious eye out for these beautiful, but potentially dangerous animals. This is a truly remote backcountry hiking or camping experience. When in doubt, you might want to try the West Coast like in California.

There are pristine areas for campers, hikers, cross-country skiers, and hunters to find recreation and enjoy the beauty of nature. There are also 45 miles of rugged, unmarked remote trails. Most of these trails meander along the creek. here are also timber rattlers which means hikers should be very careful when stepping into the tall grass.

Camping is allowed along the banks of Otter Creek and the area is popular with visitors who enjoy the chutes, waterfalls, and pools. Waterfalls range from three feet to ten feet high. There are also swirling rapids and tranquil pools. The camp site is first come-first served and is large for two tents. There is a second camp site a bit down the creek.

The area often gets rain and in the winter, several feet of snow. There is a possibility of frost, even in the summer, so campers and hikers should dress appropriately.

Visit Beautiful Mountain Lake Wilderness Area In West Virginia Today

Mountain Lake Wilderness area, named for the privately owned Mountain Lake, a private lake located nearby that is one of only two natural lakes in Virginia. Mountain Lake Wilderness area was created in 1984 when the United States Congress designated a wilderness area. Formed to preserve the unique features of this forest region and to provide protected habitat for its inhabitants, today it consists of a total of 16,525 acres, of which about 2721 acres are located in West Virginia.

Contained within the boundaries of the wilderness area is a highland plateau that is centered squarely over the Eastern Continental Divide. Elevations range from a low of about 2,200 feet and climb to over 4,000. The plateau itself is home to some of the most scenic areas of the forest, where isolated stands of hemlock and virgin spruce can be spotted, as well as a mountain bog and the ever popular War Spur Overlook.

Trails crisscross throughout the wilderness area, ranging from easy for beginning hikers to more difficult to keep advanced hikers entertained. From these trails you’ll be able to fully appreciate the delicate beauty of the state’s forests. If you tread lightly and keep a careful look out for them, you might be able to spot some of the more than 43 species of mammals and the 70+ species of birds that call Mountain Lake Wilderness Area their home, such as gray fox, wild turkey, beaver, winter wren, black-capped chickadee, and cerulean warblers.

To help manage and protect West Virginia’s 2721 acre portion of the wilderness area, the Mountain Lake Conservancy was formed. This non-profit organization also provides cultural and environmental opportunities for the public, and since 2008 it has managed and developed recreational opportunities for Mountain Lake Hotel guests and the local community.

The Dolly Sods Wilderness Area In West Virginia

The Dolly Sods Wilderness area is located in eastern West Virginia. The area is in the Monongahela National Forest in the Allegheny Mountains. The area contains some incredible sweeping vistas and the terrain is very rocky and mostly high-altitude plateau reminiscent of geology found in Canada.

In the northern part of the wilderness, the landscape is very distinctive and features wind-carved boulders, stunted trees, grassy meadows and heath barrens. Much of this landscape was created as a result of fires and logging, along with very old sphagnum bogs.

The southern part of the wilderness features a dense cove forest. The North Fork of Red Creek also runs through a branched cavern.

The name of this wilderness area comes from the Dahles, a German homesteading family, along with sods which is the local name for mountaintop meadows.

The Dolly Sods has almost 18,000 acres. The lower elevations consist of laurel thickets and northern hardwoods. In the higher elevations, there are heath barrens where mountain laurels, azaleas, blueberries and rhododendron grow. The landscape also features groves of red spruce stunted by the wind. There are many old sphagnum bogs where cranberries, moss, and sundew plants grow.

Visitors to the Wilderness can also see beaver ponds and walk more than 50 miles of trails. Most of these follow old logging roads and railroad grades.

The higher elevation of the Dolly Sods causes a cool climate and the wildlife is similar to that found in Canada. Also here are snowshoe hare, beaver, bobcats, foxes, black bear, timber rattlers, groundhogs, grouse and wild turkey. In the 1930s, white-tailed deer were re-introduced into the wilderness and are once again abundant.

Visitors to this wilderness area should leave no trace of their visit. While camping is allowed, it is carefully monitored to prevent damage to the environment. No live vegetation may be cut and no off-road vehicles are allowed in the area.

Facts About Cranberry Wilderness Located in West Virginia

Today we will talk about the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia. This wilderness is managed by the Forest Service. The map was designated by the United States Congress in the year of 1983. This stretch of wilderness covers 47,742 acres in the state of West Virginia. The Cranberry Wilderness is located in the Pocahontas and Webster Counties of the state. Cranberry Wilderness is known for its steep valleys as well as broad mountains, with elevations ranging from 2,400 feet to 4,600 feet and climbing. Its size makes it the largest wilderness in the eastern United States.

The Williams River forms the northern border of the Cranberry Wilderness, while the Southern Fork of the Cranberry River sits on the southwestern border of this wilderness. In the wilderness, you will find that most of the trees found in the Cranberry Wilderness consist of Appalachian hardwoods. You will also see some Red Spruce in the much higher elevations. Cranberry Wilderness is also contained in the Black Bear Sanctuary. Some of the wild animals that live in the wilderness include the White Tail Deer, the fox, rabbits, and many others. Due to the plant life of the wilderness, the water conditions are naturally acidic and this limits the fish population somewhat. Along the wilderness, there are some different hiking trails that are maintained by the West Virginia Wilderness Service.

If you love the outdoors and being within nature, we highly suggest checking out the beautiful Cranberry Wilderness to view some wonderful mountain landscape. This is a great tourist destination as well as a great place for the citizens of West Virginia to visit to see all of the glory of nature. You are sure to witness a lush amount of plant and animal life making this a great place for any and all photographers interested in taking some great mountain photographs.

Big Draft Wilderness Area – A West Virginia Adventure

In 2009, Congress designated a little more than 5,000 acres of West Virginia as the Big Draft Wilderness. This area is located in southeast West Virginia and is a part of the Monongahela National Forest. Big Draft comprises most of the southern part of the forest and the name comes from one of the Greenbrier River tributaries, Big Draft. The wilderness area is about five miles from White Sulfur Springs and near the Blue Bend Recreation Area.

The Big Draft is popular with hunters, hikers, anglers, and paddlers. There is a 14-mile trail system which is open to the public, including equestrians and hikers. The only exception is Blue Bend Loop which prohibits horses or any type of stock.

Wildlife is abundant in the area and includes black bear, wild turkey, whitetail deal, cottontail rabbit, grouse, and coyote.

The Big Draft was created under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. This is the smallest of the national wilderness areas in West Virginia. While not as well known as some of the other wilderness areas, it is very accessible for hikers.

The area contains just a few loops. The wilderness is accessed from Blue Bend Recreation Area. This is a great starting point because the recreation area includes 20 nice camp sites located on Anthony Creek. There is also a pavilion constructed by the CCC, warm showers and flush toilets. There is no fee to park and there are signs to the footbridge which spans Anthony Creek and takes hikers into the wilderness area. The early trails are easy to follow, although they are not well marked.

There are nice overlooks along the trails and the summit sits at about 1,000 feet in elevation. The trails are well-maintained and can get steep along the way.

Big Draft Wilderness Area is the newest wilderness area in West Virgina (not in Tennessee). Still, it offers nice trails and scenic views and is worth a visit.