The high meadows of Dolly Sods North have some of the most spectacular scenery on the east coast. With beautiful valley views, and seemingly endless rolling
fern pastures, this is an area you'll want to come back to again and again. Part of the Monongahela National Forest, Dolly Sods is a taste of the Canadian high country right in our own back yard.
Trail Notes: The trails in Dolly Sods ARE NOT color blazed. We have them marked on the maps here in different colors for ease of identification only. Non solid dotted trails indicate secondary non-official hiking trails.
From the parking area head down the washed out Bear Rocks Trail TR-522 through a meadow, then climb over a small ridge before descending again to meet the Dobbin Grade Trail TR-526 in 1.1 miles. Continue straight across the Dobbin Grade Trail remaining on the Bear Rocks Trail. The trail is considerably narrower at this point. After passing through a meadow cross Red Creek and head uphill to the left, emerging from the trees and reaching a trail junction marked by a thin trail post.
Turn right at the trail post, pass through a small clearing, and enter a wooded area climbing the ridge. Emerge from the trees at one of the larger high mountain meadows. The trail heads down through a small valley before climbing another meadow and reaching the intersection of the Raven Ridge Trail TR-521.
Stay right uphill on the Raven Ridge Trail for 0.2 miles to the intersection of the Beaver View Trail TR-523. Stay right on the Raven Ridge Trail as it passes through an area of red spruce before arriving at a connecter trail on the left in another 0.4 miles. Continue straight on the Raven Ridge Trail, then turn left onto the Rocky Ridge Trail TR-524 in 0.8 miles. If you miss this trail junction in another 120 yards you will arrive at a three way intersection marked by a small rock cairn. Instead of backtracking you can turn left here for 200 yards through the brush, and pickup the Rocky Ridge Trail.
Turn left downhill on the Dobbin Grade Trail as it descends the valley, then crosses the left fork of Red Creak in 1.0 miles. The trail will veer more to the right before arriving at the junction of the Beaver View Trail in 0.6 miles. Continue straight on the Dobbin Grade Trail passing a spring (hose attached) in 0.3 miles, then descend to the valley floor and pass through a boggy area before arriving at the intersection of the Upper Red Creek Trail TR-509 0.6 miles from the spring. Continue straight on the Dobbin Grade Trail shortly passing the unmarked Raven Ridge Trail, then crossing Red Creek in 0.2 miles.
Immediately after crossing Red Creek turn left on the Dobbin Grade Trail. There isn't a marker at this intersection, and the trail that continues straight climbs a small rise to a vista point. After crossing Red Creek and turning left, pass through a wet boggy section for 0.8 miles, then in 0.2 miles arrive at the junction off the Beaver Dam Trail TR-520. Continue straight on the Dobbin Grade Trail for 0.7 miles to the intersection of the Bear Rocks Trail you descended earlier. Turn right uphill on the Bear Rocks Trail for the 1.1 miles back to FR75 and parking area.
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Reviews For The Dolly Sods North Hike (5 Most Recent)
Went out this past weekend for an overnight trip in Dolly Sods. Truly incredible hike that instantly became one of my favorite places within reach from DC-if not my #1. While I missed all the fall leaves by about two weeks (there was actually snow in most places) that made it no less enjoyable. Strongly recommended-while there are many spectacular hikes in the GWNF or SNP many boast similar scenery-Dolly Sods is in a league of its own with its unique landscapes.
No idea why this is a 2 for camping I'd give it a 5- there are easily double digit sites to chose from, many off little side paths. There are a couple within the first mile by the creek, a handful on bear rocks/raven ridge either out in the open or in the pine groves and there are many on 524 along the east side of the trail. so many options! Take some extra time on TR 524 to explore the rock outcroppings. I extended the loop by going to blackbird knob (TR511) and coming back on that (some truly great sites there, especially down by the first creek crossing), it was still muddy in places but didn't seem to be quite as bad as people describing dobbin grade trail. bring gaiters!
A final added bonus was that in covering 15 miles or so on the second day I only ran into 1 other group on the trail-really felt like I had the place to myself.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 26, 2013
Dolly Sods is as usual, incredible. I went there on Saturday, expecting a normal, boggy hike and was pleasantly surprised to see snow on the way up. Right at the final entrance to Dolly Sods (on the north side) there was a park service survey team. I have a feeling that we were very lucky, and had the snows been any worse, Forest Road 79 would have been closed for the season. Fortunately it was not, the road was clear (except it was SIGNIFICANTLY more rough than the last time I went on it), and was able to park right across from the entrance to Bear Rocks trail. It was packed for Dolly Sods this past weekend- there were a lot of people hiking (I must have come across at least 20) - but you were still able to get the "I'm by myself feel" most of the time that makes the hikes here special. The hike was particularly nice because for the most part the ground was frozen- so most of the boggy parts were not too bad. The Red Creek Campground area was particularly gorgeous this weekend. Dolly Sods is still one of my most favorite places to hike- where else can you really get a hike that isn't really mountain hiking but also still has the views that it does. That said- if you haven't been there it is wise to at least go with one person. While the trail markings are much better than they used to be (in the past they weren't marked at all) there are still places that, due to the weather, sometimes the signs get knocked down or twisted. Keep in mind that Dolly Sods is a huge place- and it can be easy to get off the trail- and in the deeper areas of the park you do not get the benefit of obvious landmarks that you can expect from other hikes that are closer to civilization. GPS and cells in my experience for the most part do not work here in the deeper portions of the park. I only know of one easy landmark (and this is if your lucky) on the north side of the Bear Rocks Trail to the north you can see the plume from the Mount Storm Coal Power plant.. So always have ample water, a flashlight, some sort of noise maker, some food, waterproof footwear, a hiking partner, as well as a map to help you get your bearings. Aside from that, this is about as perfect a hike as you can get. If you want something that is a little more unique than your everyday hike, I strongly encourage you to check out ALL the Dolly Sods hikes (There are many different ones) and many have different things to offer.
Date of Hike: Friday, August 30, 2013
I hiked the north and south sections of the Dolly Sods in late August. The trails are rough, unmarked, and wet. There are lots of edible berries in late summer. Rocky Ridge Trail has the best views. I completed the following as an overnight but I wouldn't recommended it. If you have the time, take two nights. Altogether, its somewhere around 20 miles but I didn't count exactly. Day 1 = Start at Red Creek Trail Head (not Red Creek Camp Ground) > Hike North on Red Creek (TR 514) > East on Black Bird Knob (TR 511) > North on Upper Red Creek (TR 509) > East on Dobbins Grade (TR 526) > Northwest on Raven Ridge (TR 521) > Camp somewhere on Raven Ridge. Day 2 = South on Rocky Ridge (TR 524) > South on Big Stonecoal (TR 513) > West on Red Creek (TR 514) > End at Red Creek Trail Head
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 23, 2013
I hiked this hike a second time in a week. It was much easier, as the thaw had created a glaze on top of the snow which supported me enough to walk normally to the top. I was fully intending to go much further than I had on the previous Saturday, but thought better of it. About 100 yards from the top I came across what appeared to be the tracks of a very large bear in the snow. The dog was going somewhat crazy, but I continued up to the plain, which had substantially more snow. It also had substantially more bear tracks, from what appeared to be at least four or five different bears. This was very unusual to me- I have yet to see an actual bear on the plains of Dolly Sods, except in the woods. Considering I was alone with my dog, I went only a short way down the Bear Rocks trail to Red Creek and turneed around.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 16, 2013
I hiked part of this hike with my dog on Saturday. I had to stop about a mile from the closed off portion of FR75 due to snow covered roads. I hiked to the top, which wasn't particulary easy. For about a mile up the road there was anywhere from 4-6 inches of snow, and closer to the top it was somewhere between a foot and 20 inches. Needless to say, FR75 will not be open to the top until at least mid April. About 500 yards from the top, the road cleared with the exception of the occasional snow drift. Bear Rocks as usual was incredible, and Dolly Sods in the winter is just as beautiful as in the spring. With no one there for miles, the feeling of being alone with God was tremendous. I hiked down to red creek and took some photos. This is a great hike during all times of the year. Just make sure you know your weather forecast. If you hit it wrong the weather is extremely changeable and you will end up stuck in your parking spot before you can get back to your car.