Highland Scenic Highway: WV Route 150, Cranberry Glades

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The Highland Scenic Highway lives up to its name: for most of the 43 mile route, you’ll feel like you’re high above the rest of the state.  I don’t think there’s any good reason for Route 150 to exist, other than to be scenic.  There aren’t any towns or businesses along this road, and if there are any homes, they’re hidden deep in the woods.  You could take US 219 south to WV 55, and end up in the same place.  The only reason Route 150 is here, it seems, is to enjoy driving on it.

From US 219, watch for WV Route 150.  The Highland Scenic Highway begins here, and runs west, then south on Route 150.  At WV Route 55, it once again turns west, ending at Richwood, West Virginia.

There are several overlooks that allow you to look out over the unspoiled mountains of the Monongahela National Forest.  The first (for westbound travelers) is Red Lick overlook (above)…

… which is followed by Little Laurel overlook.

Honeycomb Rocks

There’s a short trail that’s worth a brief stop, about halfway along Route 150.  The trail takes you past some strange rocks that display an unusual geological feature.  They’re called “Boxwork” or “Honeycomb Rocks” because of the criss-crossing pattern in the rock surface.

There are plenty of examples of Honeycomb Rocks here.  Some have triangular patterns…

… while others have compact boxes.

I’ve read all the interpretive signs along the trail, and I’m still not certain I understand how the rocks form.  Apparently, the ancient layers of rock fractured, allowing Hematite (iron mineral) to replace the clay in the rocks.  Over time, chunks of the rock broke off, and rolled down the side of the mountain, ending up here.  Then, the weaker rock eroded away, leaving the stronger Hematite (which makes up the walls of the boxes).

You could also just decide to enjoy the neat-looking rocks, and not worry about all the science.

I stopped at one more overlook: Big Spruce Overlook wasn’t quite as impressive as the first two.

The Route 150 portion of Highland Scenic Byway is considered a “parkway”, so no commercial traffic is allowed.  Also be aware that the parkway portion is not maintained in the winter, so it may be closed from December to March.  You can find maps and more information here.

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

The parkway portion of Highland Scenic Byway ends near the entrance to Cranberry Glades Botanical Area.  This area is a swampy lowland called a “bog” — something that mostly exists much farther north.  The 750 acre area has a spongy ground made of peat, which allows some unusual plants to grow.

A wooden boardwalk makes a loop through the bogs.  First, it enters 28-acre “Round Glade”.

Watch for butterflies!  They’re everywhere.

Several times, the boardwalk crosses Yew Creek.

Then, it passes through a wooded area, complete with some huge rhododendron bushes…

.. before entering the much smaller “Flag Glade”, which is 8 acres.

If you’re a botanist, or love watching for wildlife, you’ll probably want to spend hours here, spotting unusual plants or creatures.  For anyone else, the trail will take about a half hour, and be only mildly interesting.

Since my destinations for the day included Lewisburg (to the south of here, on US 219), I did not plan to follow the entire course of the Highland Scenic Byway.  But before you bail out, and head back to US 219, go a little further west on WV Route 55, to visit Falls of Hills Creek.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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