Categories
Berries Foraging

Where to Find Wild Raspberries

There’s no other way to put it: the first time you taste a wild raspberry you’ll be hooked. Small but packing a mighty punch, wild raspberries are a joy to pick.

So, where can you find wild raspberries? Wild raspberries thrive on disturbed lands with adequate access to light. Trails running through established forests tend to have raspberry plants along the side. Land that has been clear-cut in the last 15 years is often dominated by wild raspberries.

Keep reading and you’ll find out exactly how to go about finding wild raspberries. From the trail-side nibble to the secret spots producing buckets of berries, this post has you covered.

Locations Where You Can Find Wild Raspberries

The entire time you’re reading this section I think it would be most helpful if you always keep the following two ideas in mind:

  • How much light does this area get?
  • Is this area maintained by humans in a way that eliminates plant competition?

Why are these ideas important? This is to help you waste less time on your journey to find your raspberry honey hole. Yes, a mature woodland with a narrow trail cutting through it may have raspberries, but it’ll likely be only enough for a nibble.

Also, if you’re looking for a more in-depth discussion on finding disturbed landscapes, you can read our companion piece on finding wild blackberries. That post goes into more details on how to use tools like Google Maps to find areas most likely to be loaded with wild berries, and almost everything in that post applies to wild raspberries.

Alongside Trails Through Established Woods With Adequate Light

Most people are going to be best served by searching for wild raspberries alongside trails that run through established forests. This doesn’t mean that these are the best spots necessarily, just that they are good spots that almost everybody has access to.

When you’re trying to find great raspberry picking spots in established forests, you really have to be constantly thinking about how much light is available in each spot.

For example, a narrow trail cutting through a dense forest of maple trees will have little to no light available, thus making it very difficult for wild raspberry plants to grow, let alone produce fruit.

On the other hand, a trail that features a clearing attached to one side may be a good opportunity, as it’s very possible that the clearing is filled with bramble.

Whether you’re hiking along the trail or scouting remotely with Google Maps, always be certain to keep in mind your direction. Remember, areas facing south will have the best access to light, so a clearing attached to the North side of a trail should get great light. The above screenshot is a great example of such a place, as the top of the picture is orientated north.

Overall, trails running through established woods are great if you’re looking to pick a small amount of berries while hiking through the forest. However, the unfortunate truth is that they usually don’t have enough light to produce a large amount of berries without hiking miles and miles.

Land Clear-Cut in the Last 15 Years With a Network of Trails

If you have access to land that has been clear-cut sometime in the last 15 years or so, you really have a great opportunity to enjoy some amazing wild raspberry picking.

Regardless of how the land was clear-cut – be it planned logging, tornado salvage or anything else – there’s a good chance that raspberries established themselves aggressively after the land was cleared.

small immature wild raspberries forming on a cane

So taking the time to find land that has been cleared is a great step towards finding a super productive berry spot. Now, what you really want to see is a network of established trails running through that disturbed land. This is crucial as it saves you from wandering through thorny bramble while angering wasps.

The off-trail bramble may not look so bad the first few years, but after awhile it might look super intimidating.

The off-trail bramble may not look so bad the first few years, but after awhile it might look super intimidating.

The upper-right half of this screenshot is a great example of what a semi-recently clear-cut land looks like in a satellite image.

Needless to say, these kinds of lands are a great opportunity to pick a lot of berries at once. The reason for this gets back to the two ideas that we discussed earlier in the post:

  • In this location sunlight is everywhere, as the large trees were removed
  • When the land was clear-cut, people mechanically eliminated much of the plant competition

So if you can find a spot like this, you have a really great opportunity to pick a lot of wild raspberries in a much more efficient manner.

Be on the Lookout for Freshly Clear-Cut Land

This strategy is a little different than the ones discussed above, but over the long haul it will make a big difference.

The simple reality is that most forested spots great for raspberry picking will eventually lose their productivity. This is because raspberries are amazing at establishing themselves immediately after the land is disturbed and all of the tall trees are eliminated. However, with enough time the new crop of trees will eventually grow to shade out the raspberry plants.

So, what’s a long-term thinking raspberry picker to do? Always be on the lookout for land that has been freshly clear-cut.

You can think of this as developing a pipeline of great raspberry picking for the long term. Sure, that freshly cut land won’t have anything the first year, but there’s a real opportunity for an absolute bumper crop of wild raspberries in the second or third year following the clear cutting event (depending on the season in which the land was cut, I believe).

Maybe give the freshly cut land a year and then see what starts coming up in the early part of summer. If you see bramble but no fruit forming, you should come back the next year.

Tips and Tricks to Keep in Mind While Picking Wild Raspberries

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you’re picking wild raspberries or searching for that perfect spot.

Might Take Awhile to Find Your Secret Spot

One thing to keep in mind if you’re on the lookout for a super awesome wild raspberry spot: it may take both time and a lot of miles to find what you’re looking for.

While raspberries are a very common plant in many parts of the country, they don’t grown in every habitat. I can think of plenty of areas of the forest I most often frequent where I can’t ever recall seeing raspberries, no matter how much light the spot got.

As such, your best policy when looking for a raspberry spot is cover a lot of ground. Explore and try a variety of different looking habitats, as the worst case scenario is that get some exercise. The more time you spend hiking and observing the different habitats, the better you’ll get at anticipating the plants you’ll find.

Observe the Balance Between Wild Raspberries and Blackberries

In my experience, most spots that have wild raspberries will also have wild blackberries. This is great and I have nothing against bumbleberry anything, but if you’re looking to pick a lot of raspberries you’ll need a lot of raspberry plants.

This makes sense if you think about it: wild raspberry canes have their fruit ripen progressively over time, so each cane may only have a few ripe fruits. As wild raspberries are quite small, the sheer quantity of raspberries you’ll have to pick to have even a gallon of berries is astounding (and somewhat intimidating).

thicket of wild blackberries in national forest with mature evergreen forest in background
Thicket of mostly wild blackberries in the National Forest. While wild raspberries were present, they weren’t present in any considerable volume.

So, long story short: you may want to find an area that is absolutely dominated by raspberry plants. Every blackberry plant present takes up space that a raspberry plant could have used, and therefore you need to walk further to pick those extra raspberries.

How you go about this doesn’t have to be an exact science, but it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind as you check spots out.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that you found a few tidbits of information to help take your raspberry picking up to the next level. There are few things that bring me more joy than picking wild berries, and I believe that sharing what works for me can only bring good.

If you liked this article, you may find these related articles to be an interesting read:

By Drew Meulemans

I've long admired forests and devote much energy to learning about them and exploring. I enjoy sharing what I learn and wish to inspire others to do the same.