Dolly Sods

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Dolly Sods at dusk

Dolly Sods is part of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.  Its a wilderness area of 10,215 acres.  From the east, it is accessible from Route 55, 10 miles South of Petersburg.  From the West, you can get there from just South of Canaan Valley.  Either way its about 9 miles up a twisty dirt road to the top.

It gets its name from the early 1900's.  There was extensive timbering done on top of the mountain.  A family named Dahle established a claim on a few acres.  They burned the logged areas to try to get good grass cover for grazing.  These areas were called Sods.  Over time the area became known as Dolly Sods.

From the east, the road winds 9 miles or so to the top of Dolly Sods.  When you get there, you see what is basically a large plateau at an elevation of 4000'.  You get beautiful views to the East as you look across several ridges.  In the fall, it is spectacular.  Just don't get caught in an early snow.

Bear RocksApproximately 9 miles to the north is Bear Rocks.  That is the point where the road winds back down the mountain.  We love Bear Rocks.  The view from there is spectacular at almost any time of day.  There are several pictures here taken from Bear Rocks.  My little brother loved it so much that his ashes were scattered from there several years ago.

There is one campground available.  Red Creek Campground has 11 sites that are first come, first served.  ThereOur site are 2 toilets and a water well.  Most of the sites limit a tent to 10x10 so if you have a big one, get there early.  There is also the occasional bear passing through.  Camping is allowed anywhere as long as you are 100 yards off of the road.  They also want you to keep pretty much to the trails.

When we go, we almost always stay at Red Creek Campground and use it as  base of operations for camping.  We take all of our food frozen and let it thaw out as the week goes.  Its just too far off the mountain to leave it without a good reason.  The campground is usually quiet.  If the people are there with big trailers, that's usually a problem.  The jerks think they have to use their generators to keep warm while we're in tents.  I suppose they aren't really jerks but they are noisy.

Old Jeep TrailThere are 3 different hikes we like to take.  The first starts near Bear Rocks and goes through what used to be hunt club land.  Its now part of Dolly Sods but we always hiked it anyway.  About 1/4 mile before Bear Rocks, you can see an old jeep trail going down the hill on the left.  If you walk it about a mile, you'll come to where it meets with theCanaan Valley trail that runs North and South.  The trail is obvious.  Turn right.  Its a pleasant walk through the wood and then opens up into a marshy area.  As you go through the marsh (and around mud holes), an obvious trail crosses the one you're on.  Turn left on it and head up the hill to Cabin Mountain.  There is a large mound of rocks up there where we eat lunch.  You can see down into Canaan Valley and it is quite a view. 

To return, you go back the way you came or continue heading cross country.  The trail you are on gets pretty small but is easy to follow.  You get to a point where the trail splits.  It used to like there was asphalt or something similar between in the Y.  In any event, take the left fork.   It heads down towards the trees before cutting up the hill.  You have to be careful following it through the woods.  It brings you out at Red Creek just below the point where you came in.  Now all you have is the long climb back up the hill.  Round trip is around 9 miles but most of it is easy.  We found our way with no guidance so it can't be too hard.

Morning fogWe also like the Rohrbaugh Trail.  Its a pleasant walk through forest and fields.  It winds up at a rock point looking down into Red Creek Canyon.  Very pretty.  The trail is marked from the main road on top and isn't far from the scenic overlook.  I'll leave it to you to find it.  Its a 3 mile hike.

The third is the Blackbird Knob Trail.  The trail itself is interesting to walk but doesn't really go anywhereAlder Run special.  It does cross Alder Run and then Red Creek.  Red Creek there is very pretty.  We ate lunch on the rocks in the middle.  We had our normal lunch of  smoked turkey, cheese and Forks of Cheat Blueberry Wine.  Go ahead and walk the rest of the trail until it seems to end in the  pines.  We gave up there and went back.

Red CreekOn the way back, you re-cross Red Creek.  If you're adventurous, keep following the water downstream rather than staying on the trail.  If you do, you'll see that Red Creek is very pretty.  When you reach Alder Run, turn left and follow it.  It will eventually take you to the point where you crossed it initially.  At this point, you're back on the trail.  Turn right and head back to the road.   If you follow Alder Run from Red Creek, you can't get lost.

Dolly Sods is a great place.  Beautiful and usually peaceful.  We've been on long hikes without seeing anyone.  We like people but this is a nice place to get away.  If you're there in the fall, though, bear in mind that it can get very cold.