Cranesville Swamp Nature Preserve

(nearest city) Friendsville, WV

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 cool, wet environment 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.

This 2,000 acre preserve straddling Maryland and West Virginia features five trails, including a 1,500 foot boardwalk.     

West Virginia Field Office
435 Wilson Street
Elkins, WV 26241
Phone: (304) 637-0160
Fax: (304) 637-0584

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