Highland Scenic Highway
In the Cranberry Backcountry, this 18.9 mile circuit hike traverses a ridge of old growth forest, and follows the banks of Cranberry River. Early October, when the leaves change color, is probably the prettiest time to take this backpack. The valley explodes in oranges, reds, and yellows.
From the parking area start up the blue blazed Kennison Mountain Trail, and in 0.4 miles arrive at the intersection of the South Fork Trail. Continue straight on the Kennison Mount Trail as it climbs the ridge before reaching the junction of the Frosty Gap Trail in another 0.6 miles. Turn right, staying on the Kennison Mount Trail, and in 3.7 miles cross Forestry Road (FR) 738A.
Continue along the blue blazed Kennison Mountain Trail another 1.0 miles where the the trail crosses FR 738B. Turn right on FR 738B for 20 yards, then left uphill on the initially wider continuation of the Kennison Mount Trail. The trail will head uphill for another 0.4 miles before passing around the summit of Kennison Mountain. The Kennison trail makes a very steep descent in the last 0.5 miles before reaching Cranberry River.
Ford Cranberry River, then head 100 yards upstream to the first of many superb campsites. If this site is taken, it's only a short walk to the shelter and next camp site.
Head upstream on the non-blazed Cranberry River service road passing the Birchlog Trail, Tumbling Rock Trail and Shelter, North Fork Shelter (stay right where the North Fork Trail splits left), and South Fork Shelter where Cranberry River passes under the service road.
From this point, Cranberry River will be on the left and out of view. In another 2.1 miles, the service road arrives at the intersection of the Cow Pasture Trail on the left, and South Prong Trail on the right.
Turn right uphill on the blue blazed South Prong Trail as it climbs towards the Kennison Mountain Ridge. In 1.0 miles the trail will make a switchback to the right, then turn back to the left, and becoming steeper for the remaining 0.8 miles to the ridge, and junction of the Kennison Mountain Trail. Turn left on the Kennison Mountain Trail, and in 0.4 miles arrive back at the parking area.