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Dolly Sods - Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Dolly Sods is an area of Wilderness situated in the Northern corner of West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest.  The trails are fairly easy to follow but a GPS is recommended if there is intension to venture deep into the woods. We went there for the solitude, the vistas, and that unmistakable alpine feel (Yup, here in West Virginia, the sweet smell of pine...).

Getting to Dolly Sod was not easy, Google around we found a few maps detailing the area.

There is only one campground so get there early; it’s on a first come first serve basis. We only hiked 2 trails since a majority of the hikes require an extended stay in the woods.

The trail we hiked started off at 560 Wildlife Tr (trailhead) off FR 75. We headed out heading West, dead-ended, and turned South/veered to the left and completed the loop. We then hitch a ride back to the trailhead on FR 75.

In hindsight, once you have reached the Red Creek Canyon view point half way down the Rohrbough Trail, you would’ve seen the most spectacular section of the trail. Additional travel brought us back into the woods and a rokcy descent. If you are like us who is satisfied by a mountain/summit vista, turning back before the descent is a good option.

One word of caution, to get to the view point, hike the trail closer to the valley/cliff or you’ll miss the view points. There is a large rock outcrop (like Hawk’s Bill in the Ozarks) and it is off the main trail; follow the main trial or you'll miss the vista.

The 2nd trail we took is not much of a trail… but a series of rock hopping, headed North off the trailhead for Bear Rock Trail.  When driving, if the road starts to go downhill then you’ve gone too far and past the ‘parking lot’.  Rock hopping is inherently dangerous so keeping an eye on snakes and loose rocks is important. Break an ankle here and you are in a world of trouble. We discovered our own “Lion’s Head” during this short hike. The view equals that of Shenandoah. 

We capped off our day by taking a short stroll on the Beaver Dam Trail.  From this trail you can picture yourself hiking in the Northern/Canadian open countries. The long grass undulated in the winds extended further than my eyes can see. It was a relaxing hike before supper.

Tips: Stay on the trail unless you are rock hopping, Dolly Sods was a military ordinance exercise ground. There was a cleanup conducted a few ago on/near the trail but there is always a remote chance a bomb wasn’t blown up and is waiting to be stepped on. Wear waterproof boots for stream crossing/rock hopping. There is no need for an AWD vehicle to the trailheads and campgrounds unless it has rained or snowed recently.

Total Distance:  ~6 miles for all 3 trails
Elevation: ~4000 Feet
Gain/Loss: 100 feet  
Difficulty: Easy
Rating: 8 out of 10 

Side Trip - an all time favorite for many folks living around the region is the Shenandoah National Park in Western Virginia. Get a room at the Big Meadows lodge with a view & take a short stroll to a spectacular viewpoint just few hundred feet from the lodge (where the pictures were taken).



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