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Hiker Reviews for the Dolly Sods North Hike - 1 to 73 of 73   
Review the Dolly Sods North hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 10, 2018
This was quite an experience. We had intended twice before this winter to head out to the Sods but had been foiled by warmer weather melting all the snow. This time we would not fail. The Dolly Sods had been hit by some intense weather for the past week, reports said 12+ inches of snow. It was time to soldier into the Sods. Fire road 75 was closed, but where at specifically we were not positive. The rangers thought the gate was roughly 4 miles from the top, so we decided to go for it. We got to the gate and embarked on the climb, about 1600 vertical feet over 3.3 miles to Bear Rocks. We were then in the DOLLY SODS. The temps immediately dropped as we climbed over the ridge line with the wind picking up severely. Stopping for a quick snack our hands went numb as we quickly turned to thicker gear. We then moved down the fire road to the trail head. We went down trail 522 and the going was a bit tough. The wind had played havoc with the snow, creating bare patches of rock in some places and 3'+ drifts in others. The trails are horrible from what we could tell, virtually stream beds and swamps (frozen now, thankfully). The snow cover was much welcomed to make the going easier on the trail (aside from the deep drifts...). We continued down 522 which was unpleasing rock and generic trees until we got about halfway. At this point we crossed a small creek in a fantastic pine grove and went up a large hill. From the top the views were incredible. The trail smoothed out and the valley opened up. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been, and it was awesome knowing there were no other people (dumb enough) to be out there with us. The sky was crystal clear blue, the temps hovered in the mid 20's, a really beautiful day. We brutally slogged up a long hill climb in thigh deep drifts on uneven terrain and eventually got to the intersection of the 521 trail. The full hike here on HU details continuing on right, but we did not have time (or energy) before sunset to do the full hike since we had added 3.3 miles (uphill) at the beginning by parking at the closed fire road gate. We turned left on 521 and entered a majestic pine grove. This was shaping up to be a life altering trip. We continued through a small forest and into a wide open field expanse which culminated in trail 526. We took a left and marveled at the surrounding hills, views for miles. We then came across the first serious obstacle of the day (the 3' drift ridge climbs notwithstanding). There was red creek, 20 feet across and no feasible crossing in sight. We looked briefly around for a way to cross before accepting our fate. Boots and socks came off, and we plunged in barefoot, our howls of pain heard by no one. We quickly put our socks and boots back on before continuing up the hill. We were operating purely by GPS, and with the trail hiding under snow we ended up bushwacking a couple miles back to the fire road, a fact we were not aware of at the time. We believed we were on the trail until I plugged my GPS into my computer the next day and saw the path we had taken. We made our way back to Bear Rocks to find somewhere to hunker down for the night, about 12 miles total traveled on the day. As temperatures quickly dropped into the low single digits, we were sincerely thankful the wind was now nonexistent. We woke the next morning to a thick layer of frost and frigid temperatures. We packed up and made our way the final 3+ miles to our car, truly thankful for heat, cold pizza waiting for us and the luxury of sitting down. Odds and Ends 1- I can't imagine these trails in warmer weather. The cold and snow were quite the obstacle, but these trails are rocky and rough. Without snow cover they would have been brutal. They are rocky and uneven, and at points are little more than an actual creek. We could also tell that virtually the entire area would be a massive swamp in unfrozen temps. 2- No live animal sighting, but we did see a beaver pond, dam and lodge off the fire road about 2 miles from Bear Rocks. We also saw countless tracks- deer, rabbit, bobcat, beaver. 3- The weather up here is extreme. It is far different than even the approach roads just a few miles away. The snow accumulation is significantly higher (there was no snow at all until we got close to the top of fire road 75) and the temperatures are far lower. The low we saw at night was about 5F, without windchill. Come prepared if you plan on going out here in the winter. This would have been a brutal hike without the proper footwear, we wore our La Sportiva Cube mountaineering boots we use for Mt. Rainier and other cascade peaks and expedition level knee length gaiters. Any less sturdy of a boot and I would have questioned our capability. Ability to transfer between hidden ankle breaking rocks and deep snow was critical. Snow shoes would have been worthless on this varied terrain. We were no strangers to cold weather camping and had been in the Sods in winter before (Red Creek area) so we were duly prepared for the bite of winters kiss. 4- It is absolutely incredible that this place exists just a few hours from Washington DC. Truly a geological and atmospheric gem. Despite the mud and swamp that I am sure this is in warmer weather, I may be tempted to venture out just to see the beauty of the Sods in a different light during the spring or fall. 5- I only give this 4 stars instead of 5 because the trails are rough. Just because the Dolly Sods had the cold and snow were seeking doesn't mean I can fully reward her for making us travel on stream beds.

By: DollySodder Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 14, 2017
Made camp at the site by Cross Red Creek and day hiked the rest of the loop. For the amount of cars we saw parked on 75, it never felt too crowded. Kid and dog friendly. HOWEVER  is not a hike for a dog smaller than 15 lbs/short legs in my opinion simply due to the amount of mud and boggy spots. WEAR WATERPROOF BOOTS AND BRING EXTRA SOCKS. Tall socks will prevent scrapes from the brush. Saw a few folks on the trail with sneakers, you WILL get your feet wet if you do this. Trekking poles help your balance when crossing water on rocks. Took us about 5 hours with many stops and lunch to do the 9 mile loop.

This is a beautiful time of year to go. The scenery never disappoints regardless of time of year. The reds, golds and yellows across the scenery is absolutely amazing. The windswept boulders are amazing and there are tons of great spots for lunch.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 07, 2017
Beautiful hike through a unique and alien landscape, but the lack of water was a problem for our group. We did this hike as an overnight backpack on Saturday 10/7 - Sunday 10/8, shortening the route by taking the picturesque Beaver View trail (523) back up to Raven Ridge (521). We camped on Saturday night near the intersection of Dobbin Grade (526) and Beaver View. There are a lot of campsites established along Dobbin Grade, though most were claimed by the time we arrived late in the day. Firewood was plentiful, and there were tall trees to hang bear bags.

Our hike was at the tail end of a very long dry spell for the area - 30 days without rain. Consequently, we encountered no boggy areas along Bear Rocks (522), Raven Ridge, or Rocky Ridge (524). The trail was a little wet and muddy at times along Dobbin Grade, but nothing that was not easily bypassed.

The only water sources we encountered during the entire hike were at the crossings of Red Creek (Mile 1.0) and the Left Fork of Red Creek (Mile 6.5). (We bypassed the spring at mile 7.1.) I was carrying 2.5 L of water with me, but due to the heat/sun, the strenuousness of carrying a heavy pack, the distance between water sources, and sharing with other group members, I wished I had carried an additional liter.

Feel free to email me if you would like further details!

By: Jake Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 04, 2017
Backpacked this for my first visit, and I was absolutely amazed. I didn't have any problems with the mud because I wore waterproof boots (thanks to previous reviewers!). To hike along so are the northern flora was strange as a native to the region but also almost enchanting. I camped along the Canaan Valley overlook and enjoyed a spectacular sunset. The hike out was just as great. Will definitely be doing the longer version soon

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 28, 2017
Hiked the Dolly sods North Hike As an overnight with my 11 year old Son. We started late in the day and we made camp on the ravens ridge trail just before the rocky ridge trail tucked in the pine trees out of the wind. The trail to this point was very easy to follow. The rocky ridge trail had some very awesome views. There was a point where we got off the main trail but we were able to get back on track without to much trouble. The dobbins grade trail was a little mucky I only got my foot wet once. I took the advice though and Took the Ravens ridge trail back up to the bear rocks trail. We really loved this hikes. So many views all along the trail, the elevation changes were very easy this is West Virginia it gets much harder believe me. This has been one of my favorite hikes and I would highly recommend it.

By: Dad of 3 Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 25, 2017
We started our journey at the Blackbird knob trail head and hiked to the camping spot at the left fork of Red Creek. We had the entire area to ourselves. Coyotes fired up about 10 pm for a little while, then we could tell they were moving further away. Saturday morning, we hiked out to Rocky Ridge, then over to Raven Ridge, down to Dobbin Grade and then across to Upper Red Creek trail. We were going to camp along Red Creek at the Blackbird Crossing for night two, but being 2 miles from the parking lot, the kids decided we would hike out and get pizza on the way home. Great weekend of hiking. Still A LOT of muddy/boggy areas along the way, which isn't much fun. Otherwise it was a great weekend to be in the Sods! :)

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 25, 2017
Dolly Bogs. Overall a nice hike with unique terrain. My hike would have been improved by paying better attention to the hike description and the past several reviews. As one reviewer notes, boots and long pants are recommended to keep your feet drier and to reduce scrapes. I wore trail runners and shorts, and ended up lightly scraped and with wet feet throughout most of the hike. I thought I'd be OK since there had not been rain in a while but it turns out the many boggy areas are spring fed.

I inadvertently wandered off the trail a couple times somehow but got back on track using the hike description and a GPS device loaded with the trail GPX file. The most frustrating was the Trail 524 segment which the description describes as "tricky." It is. I ended up in a forest much of the time as there are several offshooting trails. Backtracking and looking for the cairns, as suggested, helped. If you're not looking into Canaan Valley for much of this stretch, you may be off track. I'd like to see some more train markers in this stretch. The GPS track for this segment is pretty good -- I didn't trust it at first and that contributed to my getting off track.

The elevation profile provided for this hike is a gross approximation. It shows a couple extended flat areas -- in fact, they're not flat and you're going up and down quite a bit. Not bad, though, compared with other hikes in the area. The description says at mile 8.1 the Raven Ridge Trail (521) is "completely dry" whereas I found it quite wet and boggy over several portions

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 28, 2017
Incredible and very wet Memorial Day weekend hike. Our group of three hiked Dolly Sods, starting at Bear Rocks entrance on Saturday and Sunday, May 27 & 28. It was spectacular, but at the end of the hike (euphoria + exhaustion!) I took off my boots at the trailhead around 7pm on Sunday, May 28th and accidentally left hiking boots, poles, gaiters, and socks. It's nothing fancy, but the hiking shoes fit! I left the items by a rock near the Bear Rocks Dolly Sods hiking entrance sign. First, sorry for leaving things behind and second if anyone comes across them, please contact me:

By: Luke Hoyt Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Phenomenal hike. Gorgeous terrain running along the Bear Rocks plateau, striking rock features heading south along the crest, and then mysterious bog country when you head back east towards Raven Ridge. Will definitely be back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Amazing location. Even at its busiest it feels deserted. The camping spots are amazing and rival some of my favorites worldwide. The only potential issue is water access. The stream crossings mentioned are the only reliably flowing access points. Plan to bring a filter, or to pack in enough for a dry camp.

Not really noted in other reviews: this area is also great for dark sky star gazing.

By: MarylandDad Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 13, 2017
We did a part of this hike with my wife, teen daughter and her friend. It was a little early in the season so the colors trended towards browns and light greens but it was still beautiful. 75 was gated so we had to do the 1.2 mile hike up to the trailhead (it was open by the time we got back...not sure when and why they open it). We ended up only doing an out-and-back after losing the Rocky Ridge trail after some of the gorgeous first views. We teamed up with a backpacking pair to try to find it but struck out. They opted to keep bushwacking on the basic bearing but, since we were just dayhiking, we opted to retrace our steps out. Can't wait to go back with my other daughter for a 2 or 3 night trip.

By: Faheem Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 09, 2017
Excellent views, unique landscape (looks like Alaska or Canada) and unique plants. We were walking across a spongy bog and looked down and saw cranberries underfoot. Millions of blueberry bushes. Tons of different types of mosses. Wear waterproof hiking boots and long pants to avoid the bushes scratching your legs. We were up here and saw *no one* in the 2 hours we spent here. Possibly because the gate for the road to access the park was closed a mile down the mountain. Weather was sunny and maybe around 70.

Warning: If you come in winter/early spring months, the access road (Fire Road 75) might be closed at the gate about a mile below the parking area, here:,-79.2961623,55m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en It was closed for us on April 9th. So we parked in the very limited parking areas (maybe dozen cars can fit) at the gate and hiked the remaining mile up the gravel road. Call the US Forest Service ahead of time to see if the road is closed:

By: Alex P. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 06, 2016
Amazing hike! I did this as a solo overnight, and camped at the crossing of Left Fork of Red Creek at 6.5 miles. It was a great campsite, but cold down in the valley. It was 26 degrees when I got up this morning! I won't go into much more detail because everyone before has been very thorough in their descriptions. Just a couple of points. I echo what Ryan said: your feet will get wet and muddy. There's no way around it. In fact, when I tried to find a way around it I sank knee-deep in muck! I'm going to start calling it Dolly Bogs. Light merino socks and quick drying trail runners are the ticket here. There are tons of amazing campsites through every section. If it's crowded, just keep going a little ways and you'll find something. I think the pvc pipe at the spring has been pulled out. I didn't see the flowing pipe, but at about where it should have been there was a 25-foot section lying below the trail. I had the PDF printout map and directions and I was fine, didn't get lost or confused once. If you have never been to Dolly Sods, go! I've lived and hiked all over the country and this is one of the most beautiful and unique spots on the east coast. I would give it a 6 for views...views everywhere! And lots of nice easy watering spots. I carried two liters, but probably could have gotten away with one.

By: Ben Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 02, 2016
This was my second time doing the hike.  What a rewarding hike this is.  I can't think of a better hike in the mid Atlantic.  Both of my hikes have been done in the fall.  Colors even this late in the year were amazing. 

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2016
This is easily one of the most beautiful hikes I've done on the East Coast. We were admiring the beautiful landscape around us from the moment we parked our car on the side of Forest Road at the Bear Rocks Trailhead. I live in Washington DC and went to school in Harrisonburg, VA so I've spent a decent amount of time hiking Shenandoah and George Washington. The area offers many beautiful hikes, but Dolly Sods is one-of-a-kind compared to other hikes in the has so many different personalities. You get rocky trails offering beautiful views of the Pines, 20 minutes later you're crossing a creek and winding your way up a trail thru the middle of the woods, as soon as you get used to that you pop out into a field which turns into a gorgeous never ends. There are even some rock scrambles. This hike is 12 miles and took us almost exactly 6 hours to complete (with plenty of time for stopping to admire, take photos, eat, etc.) and we NEVER grew tired of the terrain because it is always changing. The one thing this hike lacks is the "overlook" that so many Virginia hikers are accustomed to (although you do get some nice higher-up views along the the Rocky Ridge Trail). Almost every Shenandoah hike leads you through the trees and out to an overlook with a gorgeous view, then it's back into the trees to make your way back to the car. This hike is different in the sense that I found myself admiring the view the entire time. If you have not done this hike and you're considering Dolly Sods North, stop your search and start planning this trip!

The directions/descriptions are very detailed and helpful, although we felt there were a couple of oddly phrased instructions (example: the word "tereminus." I had no idea what that meant bc it's not a word. I believe the person meant "terminus," in which case, why not just say "the intersection" or "the end of" ?) There was also an instance in the beginning of the hike where they describe "a nice campsite with slate chairs and a fire ring" as being "on the left" when you get to it...but it's actually on the RIGHT once you cross Red Creek and make your way up the path to the meadow and woods. These are minor complaints, but details that seem worth mentioning. Overall, the directions are awesome and we appreciated having them. While the trail itself is not blazed, there are frequent signs and trailmarkers throughout the hike to keep you on path.

Finally, make sure you wear some shoes/boots that you're ready to get DIRTY. There are a few portions of the trail where you're navigating through some serious mud/bog. Our shoes were caked by the time we got back to the car.

Overall, I love this hike and I'm already looking forward to returning to Dolly Sods and hopefully doing the full loop next year. Dolly Sods North is now my new favorite hike I've done in the Virginia/West Virginia, replacing Old Rag at the top of my list : )

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2016
*I forgot to mention an important detail that was missing in the directions! In the directions listed under "Mile 5.5" it describes crossing the left fork of Red Creek. Immediately after that it says "the trail will turn more to the right..." This was the 1 part of the hike where I felt confused. Very shortly after you cross the creek, you reach a part of the trail where you can go left, straight, or right. All options look exactly the same and equally as "trail-like." GO RIGHT to stay on the trail and ultimately get back onto Raven Ridge and make your way back to the Bear Rocks Trail and parking lot.

By: Hans (und Heidi) Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
We've been here now 7 times, in all seasons. Timing was perfect for the colors of Autumn. Last time here was 2 years ago and two weeks sooner, and I thought we were two weeks late then for the Peak. But this time the weather and scenery came together like it can, only here in the Dolly Sods North.

There was more people than I have ever seen here, and license plates were from all over the place. We encountered 10 kids from Michigan backpacking. Many back packers.

We walked the 12 mile loop starting at 11 and ended at 7:30 walking out the last mile right into the most full and huge Hunters Moon, lighting the trail. This we will never forget.

As of this weekend, the color change has not really happened in the Shenandoahs, and even the east side of the Allegheny Range is still quite green. At Dolly Sods I would say it's perfect now, while yonder across the Canann Valley the east side is about to be in full bloom next weekend.

Note from the previous reviewer about the fire restrictions. There are no restrictions now.

By: Hans (und Heidi) Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
One more note about getting the timing right for Peak. For us it is a 3 hour drive to get here. Because this area is unique in terrain and elevation, you never really know what to expect. I remember driving through beautiful autumn , only to be blasted at 20 mph by the dead of winter upon cresting to the park lot at Dolly Sods.

Next time we will call the visitors center at Seneca Rocks, and if they look out the window and see 95% green leaves below the Rocks, it's probably Peak Colour at Dolly Sods.

By: Tree Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 02, 2016
Just returned from a overnight hike of the northern part of Dolly Sods. We wanted to circumnavigate the whole area but the entire southern part of the wilderness is closed! We had to end our hike a day sooner but the rest of it was amazing. Very high water on the 1st day and just muddy the second day. BE WARNED! ALL TRAILS IN THE SOUTH AREA CLOSED RIGHT NOW. FIRES IN THE AREA! CHECK WITH NATIONAL FOREST OFFICE BEFORE YOU GO TO THAT AREA!

By: Kurt Reinheimer Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 11, 2016
This hike is absolutely amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. But be advised, a 6-hour hike isn't for everyone and if you include the time it takes to got to the Dolly Sods and back, you are looking at a full day. Perhaps I got lucky, but I navigated using the directions provided (which are very comprehensive, thank you for posting them), and had no issues at all. I was a little concerned after some of the other reviews talked about how confusing the trail can be and how people got lost, but I found the trail well maintained and well signed. The only point I missed in the entire hike was the "spring" (hose), but I could have easily simply not noticed it.

By: Hamza Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 10, 2016
Such a unique and amazing place. blueberries, spruce, bogs feels like your hiking in the midwest or alaska somewhere. Not just hiking through a tree tunnel to a lookout. Great views all the time. Really can't say enough.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 27, 2016
Like most have said, this is tricky to navigate but so worth it! Beautiful views and some really great campsites. I used hiking upward's trail description as my main guide and it was fairly comprehensive, but as a representative at REI told us "get comfortable with uncertainty" in this area. A couple of important things if you are attempting to hike:

Rocky Ridge: Up until this point the trail is very clear, but once you hit Rock ridge the trail definitely becomes difficult to navigate. Even with our trusty dog's nose we got lost about halfway through the trail, where it turns slightly right towards the cliff edge. Somehow we got turned in towards the trees and did a bunch of backtracking until we decided to just bushwhack in the general direction of the trail using our compass. Got a few scratches, but we ended up on the trail in about 10 minutes! Trust your gut in this area, and rely on your compass. I'd definitely recommend a hand-held GPS since the cairns are hard to decipher from the boulders :)

Dobbin Grade: This was fairly easy to navigate, except for just after you cross one of the small streams (I believe it's one of the red creek crossings). You will come down the hill about 1.5-2 miles after turning off of Rocky Ridge, and pass a few great campsites on your left just up the creek bank. About 100 feet from the creek there is a junction that is not described in the notes. TAKE A RIGHT - we took a left thinking it was Raven Ridge and ended up following a footpath into a boggy meadow, and were back to bushwhacking. There are some awesome wooded-campsites on this left junction, but not any trail that we could find. After you take the right, you'll hit the spring and then Beaver Trail after about a mile or so.

Raven Ridge: The left onto Raven Ridge is well-marked with signage, but we were hiking quickly to avoid a storm and walked past it accidentally. Turned out to be a good thing! About 50 feet from the raven ridge turnoff on Dobbin Grade there is a creek where you can fill up your water, although expect some sediment. It's a good fill-up if you missed the spring like we did!

If you plan to use the creek water - BRING A PUMP! We made the mistake of bringing a steripen/iodine tablets, which killed off any harmful bacteria but didn't get rid of all the narsty sediment. Pump is essential. We also didn't have any issues with bears, although I assume because there were so many people camping out and making noise. May still want a bear-hang just to be safe from the ground critters.

Hope this helps! Sorry for the imprecise mileage, we didn't have any odometer or GPS to track.

By: Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 08, 2016
I liked this hike so much I did it twice this year. The first time I was by myself and then in August I went back with friends and two of my kids. The one comment I'll make is that in the absolute dead middle of the summer, there was not one single bird singing, or cricket chirping in the entire wilderness. No mosquitos, no flies. Nothing. We saw a big owl on the first night, but that was all. I love to camp, but I have never been anywhere so quiet in my entire life. It was amazing and peaceful in a way, but strange and unnatural and alarming too. Once you notice that there are no birds and the roar of crickets is missing at night, no sound at start to wonder what's up. This place is stunningly beautiful but I wonder where the bugs and birds went.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 15, 2016
We attempted o kike this very trail using the map and text laid out as our main source of navigation. It seems that every left listed on here was backwards and should have been a right. In the section where it mentions its difficult to navigate, you are right. Very difficult and we felt uneasy about it at times. There comes a section near the 5 mile mark, you have hop on and navigate some pretty big/tough rocks and its very hard to figure out where to go. The cairs weren't always reliable. At that point we turned around and doubled back and didn't do this full trail.

Also, there is no mention of the 1 mile section on Durbin Creek Trail that is really bad mud bogs. At one point I fell in a butt high bog that without someone with me to take off my pack I wouldn't have been able to free myself (or it would have been very hard).

All in all, the hike was GEORGOUS! We ended up hiking 16.5 miles in two days which wasn't bad and we enjoyed all of it but the two things mentioned above!

By: Cam Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 27, 2016
Did this one this past weekend and really enjoyed the area. Despite the lack of elevation change, it still holds some really great views throughout. The trail was really wet and muddy despite the lack of rain recently. It seems like this is just almost always the case due to the ecosystem in Dolly Sods, so expect a wet, sloshy trail in a lot of parts even when it hasn't rained for days.

There are great camping options all over, seemingly at every mile of the whole loop. Walking through the open meadows in early Spring was a truly enjoyable time. I'd recommend this trip for beginner backpackers since there really aren't any steep sections of the trail, it is pretty well marked with signs at almost every trail junction, and there's no shortage of campsites (at least at this time of year). 5/5 for the fact that you can hike through pretty much every type of ecosystem in the mid-Atlantic in one day.

By: Andrea Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 15, 2015
I hiked this over the course of two days. What an incredible place! I went in mid-October hoping to catch some foliage but it was pretty much past peak. However the incredible scenery and terrain made the lack of foliage color a mute point because it was still so beautiful. Most places in the east consist of woods and rocks. You suffer from what's called "The Green Tunnel" where you walk a lot through woods to perhaps catch a view here and there. On this hike almost everything has a view, whether it's the beautiful meadows with the mountains in the background or going through sections of woods or even walking along the ridge overlooking a valley. It reminded me of what it must be like to hike out west. I loved it! Ever changing terrain and scenery made it an incredible experience. Add to that is the immense options for camping. There are loads of pre-established campsites with a fire ring set up. In the 3 nights I camped I was able to build a fire 2 nights. My first night I came late so just hiked a half mile and camped off trail. The second night I camped in an incredible spot that had a beautiful view overlooking the Canaan Valley, complete with fire ring and rock chairs and there was even wood in the pit. Same with the third night except I was in the woods next to babbling brook. It's important to dress for the weather. It was mid-October and quite sunny/mild the first two days but windy. The wind didn't stop for 3 days. Camping up on the ridge overlooking the valley seemed like a great idea but I woke up at 3 am to 50 mph gusts that threatened to rip my tent off the ground. Fortunately I have a great tent and there were lots of rocks to help anchor it but it made for an "interesting" experience. The wind never let up either and I made sure to camp in a "windless" section of woods on my 3rd night. During the day the temperatures were in the 50s-60s but dropped down to close to freezing at night. The last day I was there it was both snowing and blowing. Very exciting. I can only imagine what winter is like up there. Another point is that I'd never, ever come here on a weekend if you are like me and desire any kind of solitude. I purposely hike midweek to avoid crowds and to hike and camp by myself. For me, camping is about getting away from people and communing with nature. On Wednesday I saw only a few other people in the parking lot before I set out and didn't see anyone all night. The next day (Thursday) I saw one other hiker and a group later in the afternoon. That was it. On Friday that all changed. I saw quite a few groups of hikers, especially in the later afternoon evening. I camped out next to the stream, right near the the trail..BIG MISTAKE. The campsite was awesome but there was a CONSTANT parade of people coming by. I even had a group come right through my campsite at 1:30 am. Another group at 2 am and then constant crowds (and I mean crowds) nonstop starting at 9 am. This is obviously a VERY well known and popular area to hike in. I can see why but I was amazed. It reminded me of Harriman State Park (which is 30 miles from New York City). I avoid going to Harriman on weekends because I like peace, quiet and solitude. I would never come back to Dolly Sods on a weekend but I'll be sure to come back midweek and do some exploring. I can see why it's so popular because it's a very unique place and not that difficult to hike so it's a great place for casual day hikers and families, of which there were tons of on Saturday. I definitely plan to come back in the spring..on a Monday or Tuesday.

By: Collin Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 23, 2015
I've done a lot of hiking in and around Shenandoah, so this was an awesome change of scenery. The fern fields, expansive meadows, and interesting rock formations make this hike a never-ending series of wonderful moments. It's not a strenuous hike, and my girlfriend and I were able to complete the entire thing, including lunch, in just under 6 hours. The whole time we were hiking, we were talking about how excited we are to come back in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors. There are also a ton of camp sites along the trail, so the next time I go I plan to backpack in a few miles, camp out, and then finish the hike the following day. It does get pretty boggy even before you have the option to return on trail 521 vs 526, so do expect to have some wet feet if you complete the whole loop (522->521->524->526->521->522). Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 23, 2015
Can anybody tell me if any of the trails are suitable for horseback riding and can you download the topo onto a garmin etrex 20 ?

By: df Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 16, 2015
Really nice hike with a wide variety of terrain and scenery. Enjoyed the open meadows and big sky vistas. Did this as a two day hike and camped near the left fork of Red Creek on the Dobbins Grade trail. First day was quite muddy but the hike down Dobbins Grade on the second day was a whole other ball game. At one point there were actually fish swimming down the trail. But in spite of the muddiness and puddle hopping it was a beautiful hike and well worth the wet feet. Ran into a couple of groups along the way but pretty much had the hike to myself.

By: Grey-Beard Jim Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Hiked this route today. First trip to Dolly Sods for me…...Very good hike. Very wet. Due to the massive amount of rain last night many trails are so full of water they were streams. Used the Beaver Dam Trail entrance and looped about to Bear Rock trailhead before returning to my parked car via the Fire Road. I would do this hike again….would like to see it in dryer conditions.

By: Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 10, 2015
I really enjoyed this hike. It did not feel like it was 12 miles, seemed more like a leisurely walk in the woods. Lots of blueberries to eat along the trails. It was also the wettest hike I've ever done. No rain, weather was beautiful, but all the trails were either mud, running water, or a combination of the two. Dobbins Grade Trail should be named Dobbins Creek. The three stream crossings were pretty fun. Only difficult part was finding the trail near the boulders at the top. It took me about 6 hours counting a twenty minute lunch and 45 minutes looking for the trail. I will definitely do this hike again

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
Spent the weekend backpacking at Dolly Sods. This place is always at the top of our list of places to visit during the summer, and we typically get here at least 3 times a year. We arrived at the trail head around 10:30 on Saturday morning. We were a bit surprised by the number of cars already parked along the side of the road. We hit the trail and made a dash to our favorite campsite hidden in a grove of trees.  After setting up our tents, we embarked on a 6 mile hike through some of our favorite parts of Dolly Sods North. We love the entire section of the Rocky Ridge Trail. The views are amazing and hopping over rocks is so much fun. There are plenty of places to stop along the way to take a break, and we enjoyed quite a few of them before heading down the Dobbin Grade Trail. There are a few more nice campsites along Red Creek. These typically fill up pretty quickly so if you enjoy a bit more privacy than opt for a place a bit further away from water. Headed back up to camp and spent the night hanging out by the campfire. Woke up super early and was able to get to the car by 9:30am.

BTW - heed Hiking Upward's warning about the Dobbin Grade Trail. Raven Ridge is a much better route back to the parking area. Dobbin Grade is very marshy and you will be walking at least a mile in 3+ inches of water. We made that mistake once and never did it again.

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 22, 2015
This was an incredible hike, everything I hoped for and more. I posted some photos to my blog here:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I did this as a two day backpack, because I only arrived at the trailhead around 2pm. It was COLD, and super foggy. 24 degrees at the trailhead, and on the bluff halfway down TR522, the temp read 9 degrees with a serious breeze. I found a beautiful snowy campsite hidden amongst some pines, and enjoyed my night thoroughly out of the breeze.

I awoke to a huge melt around 3am, and by noon it was 50 degrees. The sign at the trailhead says there can be big weather changes -- it ain't wrong! I ended up in my base layers for the entire afternoon, down from my nearly full winter kit.

*Note* the spring with the hose attached was bone dry. I planned to use that as a refill, but there was a dry hose and lots of beer cans and garbage around the spring. I filled up in the creek instead, but just important to note.

The bogs were most frozen, which was nice until the melt had me break through a bunch. Some of the iced over river beds are all kinds of treacherous.

I did not see a single soul in the 28 or so hours I was there. Beautiful trail.

By: Hans und Heidi Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 02, 2014
See our review for the Forks of the Red Creek, on the next day. We finally timed it right here for the fall colours. This is our sixth time here in 3 years. We are still late by a week this time, but it was spectacular, and unlike anywhere else in the world. We took 8 hours for this 12 mile hike, and would have taken forever if reality did not push us along to finish. West Virginia, Almost Heaven ??? Go see the Dolly Sods in fall colors and you're sure to see Heaven on earth.

By: Jered Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Finally made it to Dolly Sods after many failed attempts. Parked at the Red Creek Campground area and hiked down Blackbird Knob (TR511). It had rained nearly 3 inches and was still raining like crazy, off 3 friends and myself went! WATERPROOF boots are required needless to say. ASOLO was my choice and they worked perfect with some gaiters as well. We made it to Red Creek and set up camp. Lots of camping spots along creek-get creative in finding firewood! Red Creek was raging and not passable. We set up next to a small water fall that looked like Niagara Falls. Managed to start a fire some how and dried out what clothes we could. The creek came up about an additional foot that night. This place is beautiful even in the rain. The next day we had some clearing and the views were amazing, had to fjord a few small streams-CHALLENGING! We will be returning soon for an extended hike-minus the rain I hope. The NORTH SODS is much like a Canadian environment, beautiful and a most see.

By: Dave Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 27, 2013
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.

By: Peter Rating: 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.

By: Mark Rating: 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

By: Pete (again) Rating: 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.

By: Pete Rating: 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.

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 29, 2012
I hiked this hike with my dog on Saturday. If you haven't been to Dolly Sods when the leaves are changing, you are missing out. The leaves, from the bushes to the trees are absolutely spectacular. All the bushes in the Bear rocks area turn a crimson red, and there are so many of them some of your picture will just pick up a sea of red. The Deciduous trees in the lower areas turn a patchwork of vibrant and intense color. The only negative to this hike was that there were a HUGE amount of bear hunters out and about, which was a little unnerving because they weren't using the Bear Rocks Trail. (where do you think the bears were? Anyway, if you like leef peeping in your car there is a very nice loop that takes you to Davis WV and the Blackwater Falls area (three different waterfalls and an absolutely fantastic overlook called Pendleton Point that overlooks that Blackwater Gorge), through the Canaan Valley and then through the back entrance to Dolly Sods about three miles later. Fall this year didn't fail to produce spectacular scenery. Don't ever miss out on Dolly Sods in the fall. It's an absolutely unforgettbale experience.

By: Hans ( und Heidi ) Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 01, 2012
This was our first time here. We walk all over the world, and this is a most unique place. I best describe it as a High Plain Bog. We never been to Scotland, but it must be like this. In fact it is former sheep pasture in natural restoration. We will return in about 6-8 weeks when the whole plains of Mountain Laurel bloom. Astounding!

Trail notes- I wish we brought gaiters, and plan to get wet beyond just fording a creek ! To avoid the worst of the Bog when TR526 intersects 521 on the left, take a left on 521 (just above the creek ford) . Then right on 522 to return to start point. Also the FR75 was closed 1.3 miles down mountain from where this hike is supposed to start (too early in season?) This made for a 13.4 mile day and it took us 7.5 hours time walking,, with time lost slogging ( which we had the grandest time!) We saw only one person the whole day early on in the hike, but we did get a late start and got to the truck at dark. We were tracking three people and a big dog the whole way, which you can only do in a bog. And that leaves me to wonder what the bugs are like here in summer on a wind swept and shaped landscape?

The next day we planned to hike the "Forks of Red Creek", but the FR75 was blocked 7 miles from the start, so we turned left to the Laneville hamlet and hiked up the Red Creek trail from there,,, 5 stars all the way !!

By: Mike Capanelli Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 19, 2011
11/19 and 11/20 We put together a 20.2 mile hike thru Dolly Sods North and Red Creek trails. This was our first time here and have already made plans to come after the first thaw! We truly felt as though we were in Canada or the great Northwest! A little disappointed in the lack of adequate trail marking in quite a few areas. However it did make it interesting in a few spots! Be prepared to get wet! Most stream crossings this past weekend were in near shin deep water! Also...I purchased topo maps from the ranger station only to discover that most of the Dolly Sods North Hike has not been updated!!! The topo maps are from 1995. Be sure to get one of the tri-fold brochures instead and save yourself the money of buying outdated maps. No matter what..we had a blast and have already recommended it to several people.

By: Rachel H Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Finally got out here with my husband and parents for a day hike after a bad cold canned our plans for an overnighter the month before. My dad had been talking up this hike for months, and with good reason - we loved the cleared hills and the curious rock formations, especially on the western ridge. The very gentle grade allowed us to talk my mom (very much a non-hiker) into coming with us, though she began to flag a bit when our detour around a boggy section to the south forced us to turn a 7-mile day into a 10+ mile one. Having heard about the crowds in this area, I was concerned about going out on a weekend, but we saw only a half dozen people in the first 5 hours, then came across a group of 40 or so scouts preparing to set up camp as we were heading out (and what an incredible camping location - no hours-long searches for an ideal site here!). The weather was chilly in mid-November, making some early stretches slick with ice in the morning, but by the time we made our way back out to the trailhead in late afternoon they'd melted away. We all had a wonderful time and intend to come back in the spring to explore the southern part of Dolly Sods and spend a night or two in this lovely area.

By: Steve H Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 08, 2011
Docked 1 point for being too crowded.  Did an overnight on a weekend near the peak of fall colors with 70F temps in the day, so perhaps most popular weekend of the year.  Passed 40 people on the first day and 42 on the second (plus dogs, horses, etc.).  Each trail head had from 10 to 40 parked cars.  Overnighted at the large, nice campsite just east of Harman Trail/TR-528, Black Bird Knob TR-511 junction.  Probably 10 tents there with room for maybe 4-5 more.  Drove up on Forest Trail 19 from the highway 32/Lanesville Rd side.  Very nice single gravel road with no problems.  Drove down the next day on Forest Trail 19 towards Dollys Sods Rd/highway 55, completely different story.  Major potholes all the way down.  Didn't try Forest Trail 75 heading east/down, but saw lots of cars heading that way so maybe it's better.  Hike itself was absolutely spectacular!  Nothing else like it on the East Coast that I've ever hiked.

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 01, 2011
Hiked the bear rocks trail for about 7 and a half miles as an out and back on Saturday. It was cold but beautiful there, it was snowing, (although not sticking) and the leaves were at peak to nearly past peak. Great hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 05, 2011
I'll put this up front: Avoid Dobbin Grade Trail unless you like squelching though calf high mud.

This was our second time out to Dolly Sods, and our group of 4 came out for a quick overnight backpack. We'd done the forks of the Red River hike before, and loved it. This trip we were planning on starting out at Red Creek Campground We and were going to do a variation of this hike, by keeping to the ridges, as there had recently been quite a bit of rain. The route was to start from the campground parking lot, hiking out on Blackbird Knob Trail, down Red Creek, up Breathed Mountain, then get on Blackbird Knob for a short distance to Rocky Ridge, then following Raven Ridge down to Dobbin Grade for a short while before hitting Upper Red Creek back to Blackbird Knob Trail, back to the car.

It all started off really well, the day was gorgeous and views spectacular. Toward late afternoon we were sunburned - the trail had much less cover than we'd anticipated, having hiked only the lower southern portion before. As we were traversing the ridge on the far side of the valley we could see a thunder storm rolling in, so decided to take the low road and avoid the ridge. The first section of Dobbin Grade trail was saturated, but mostly passable. We avoided sinking in over our boots and pitched camp next to Red Creek by Raven Ridge Trail, we found enough dry ground to pitch two tents. The following morning we headed up Dobbin Grade toward Beaver Dam Trail, and the trail was in awful shape. We tried to hopscotch around the deep spots but ended up trudging up the trail, which was probably 30% calf high mud. I can put up with some muck on the trails but this was decidedly NOT fun. It added hours to our hike and made for one very smelly ride home I would plan any future hikes to completely avoid Dobbin Grade trail.

Sorry if you need maps to follow along with this review. A few of the trails we hiked are on the South Forks trail map, which has all of the trails in Dolly Sods marked and numbered.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 02, 2011
Did this hike as an overnight trip.  We were planning on camping just before 524 meets 526, but someone was camping there and the spot was very small, so we continued down to the Dobbin Grade Trail and camped by a small tree about .75 miles after that intersection on the left side of the trail as you head down.  There was a small firepit fairly close so we could have a fire.  The next day as we resumed the hike we saw another nicer and larger camping spot on the left side of the trail, just before the trail crosses the creek.  Things get REALLY muddy after that don't try to avoid getting dirty cause the mud will get you eventually!

The trails are very well marked almost the entire way, except for a few rocky spots on 524, and a turn on 526 where some short trails to some camping spots make it a big confusing.  But overall, it'd be really hard to get lost.  A beautiful hike too bad the skies were a bit hazy so we weren't able to enjoy the views. 

Thank you for the great info and maps, as always!

By: E Gregg Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 03, 2011
We went camping at the far-back campsite on the Rocky Ridge trail, via the Bear Rocks trail. We returned via the Dobbin Grade Trail. The first day was a great hike - it was a Friday, so there were very few people around. We didn't see a single soul from 3PM on Friday until about 9AM on Saturday. The campsite way in the back is amazing - completely worth the trip, and better than all the other ones we saw. It only supports one tent, and has a fire pit. There are a few other ones around - there's one that looks good for a hammock, and a few randomly in the woods, but none of those have what I would call a safe fire ring.

The Dobbin Grade Trail, coming down, was really muddy and wet. It was disappointing since the other trail wasn't anything like that. It didn't rain overnight at all, so I'm wondering if it is always that nasty. I highly recommend skipping the entire Dobbin Grade Trail if you have any aversion to getting boot-deep in mud. The Bear Rocks trail is the exact opposite. Overall, it was great, and we'll be going back.

By: jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 21, 2011
First time hiking in WV and we were not disappointed!  Got a bit of a late start (11 AM), on perhaps the most beautiful day of the spring/summer thus far.  Probably about 70 and sunny, with a nice breeze to keep the air circulating.  About 20 cars parked at north end of FR75, but plenty of fresh air and solitude while hiking the loop.  Went out on Bear Rocks Trail, to Rocky Ridge Trail, to Dobbin Grade, and back.  It took us 6 hours and that was with 45 minutes for lunch.

Amazing views, such variable terrain and environments, and no bugs.  A few black flies at parking lot, but once we started hiking they disappeared.  Quite a bit up and down, so not an easy 6 hours ... especially for the occasional hiker.

Pretty wet in many places, with one full fording necessary (knee high).  Lots of bog/mud hole crossings along Dobbins Grade, but I imagine even within a couple days that will start to dry out some.  Saw a couple deer, snakes, and rabbits.

Looking forward to trying some of the other loops to the south next time.

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 15, 2011
Ricenpeas you can probably get to Dolly Sods even faster than that.... Your GPS may not have it in its updates, but when they extended route the 4 lane section of highway 55 past Moorefield it saves a lot of time. You just go to the end and turn left on the road that will appear on your GPS. The new route literally saves 20 minutes and it can be a striking drive if done during the right time of day.... 

By: rice n peas Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2011
living my whole life in VA, i'm a bit embarrassed that this was the first time i'd hiked in Dolly Sods.  i've heard about it for years of course, just never made it out.  the drive is actually faster than i figured from NOVA, was at the trailhead in roughly 3 hours.  i made this hike route an overnight trip and extended it by a few miles using the full Dolly Sods topo that HU so fantastically made available here.  the route as its laid out up to where the Rocky Ridge trail meets the Dobbin Grade trail is fantastic.  incredible vistas from atop rocks and hiking over sprawling meadows was simply reinvigorating, it was worth the trip just for that.  i camped in the little site just north of where these two trails meet, and it served me well in the wicked thunderstorms that passed through all night (phew!), though the weather broke long enough for a great sunset i caught by walking back north on Rocky Ridge trail a half mile or so.  not a great water source there, just used a runoff that crossed the trail 60 seconds north of the site (serviceable). 

on day two i went straight past Dobbin Grade until i linked with the Blackbird Knob trail and took a left.  after about 5 minutes on that trail i encountered the most washed out trail i've ever had the pleasure of staring in amazement at.  not the mud slog that others mention, but "pool" is a better description than "trail".  10 feet wide, 30 yards long, a foot deep, not a single rock anywhere, and ENTIRELY boxed in by mountain laurel up both sides.  hiking poles saved the day and got me through but it took a while to battle my way around. 

i made a left on Upper Red Creek trail and went through an impressive boggy area, really got my attention, despite the beautiful surroundings (i kept expecting to see a grizzly or bison in those big meadows.)  but once i linked back up with the Dobbin Grade trail and headed east on the return trip, i hit what everyone else has already cursed at length.  my big fun there....i had taken my hiking shoes off at the creek crossing just before the turn, waded across with my flip flop crocs, but it looked on the topo like i'd have another crossing before too long, so i just hiked in my crocs for a bit.  good thing, another creek crossing was only 5 minutes down the trail, so good news i thought.  but then i hit the bog area and was doubly impressed!  now THAT is mud.  figured i'd just keep on the crocs instead of mudding up my shoes, i was able to actually move a bit faster since i didn't care if my feet got wet....until i sank into the mud up to mid thigh.  after i stopped laughing, i realized that i need to pull my legs out real carefully or i was going to lose my crocs.  it's crazy how heavy that mud is, especially with the suction created by the water/mud combo.  managed to pull them both free, but had a not so sweet smell until i reached home. 

love this place!!!  i wonder, if i should bring the wife up there, should i just stick to the trails around the edges of the park as much as possible?  the interior meadow trails seem to require an ability to laugh off wet feet (so not including Bear Rocks and the northernmost section of the Raven Ridge trail in this description, those were delightful sections.)

can anyone recommend a trail or route in the mid or southern sections of the park?  and a corresponding camp site?

can't wait to get back

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2011
Took my mom and my Aunt here and to Spruce Knob on Saturday. Forest Road 75 is open. The plants are starting to bloom, but only some of the trees have actually done so yet. It will probably be a few weeks before it really turns colorful there.

By: userid333 Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 21, 2011
Just a quick comment to note that as of 4/21 the gate was still closed to vehicles at 1.2 miles from Bear Rocks. No snow.

By: Pete Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I had been trying to get up on Dolly Sods all winter, as I wanted to take snow photos of the area. Every time until this week I failed because when the snow melted in the sun, it refreezes on the shaded parts of the road and ices up and with no nearby available witdth in the road, it became to dangerous to get up there. This week, however, the warm weather melted the snow all the way up the mountain, and unfortunately everywhere else except for the road. Forest Road 79 was still blocked off at 1.2 miles from Bear Rocks, but you can park there and walk the road up to the top. Once there it was really desolate... it truly felt like no one was around for miles, and in a literal sense, no one was as well. I started hiking about 3-4 years ago, largely because I found out about the hikes through hiking upward. Dolly Sods in my opinion is probably the most beautiful area that I have been with easily the most variety in both landscapes, views, and plant life. The first time I went, (a little less than two years ago) in the late spring when everything was blooming I literally gasped when I saw it. Also, anyone, straight down to someone who just wants to walk or drive down the road can potentially see something unique to the area that you typically wouldn't see somewhere else.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 16, 2010
This was my first visit to Dolly Sods. I live in NJ so this was a long drive for me but worth it. It was alittle marshy in spots just like people have claimed but thanks to my trekkie poles I did okay. I ate lots of berries along the way and did my best to keep my feet dry. I hiked a loop of about 10 to 12 miles. Unfortunately I lost my trail guide about a 1/3 of the way in but remember which trails I wanted to use so was able to find my way. My only issue was with trail markings on a few of the trails. I would have liked alittle more. Occasionally I questioned whether I was on the still on the trail, especially when climbing over rocks but thanks to some previous hikers that left piles of rocks I was able to find my way. All in all a great day and a great hike.

By: Jack Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 15, 2010
This was not my first hike here, I've been coming back for almost thirty years. That should tell you how I feel about Dolly Sods North. I have hiked/backpacked all the trails in Dolly Sods and the north remains my favorite. My early experiences with Dolly Sods North were before the land became NFS. The trails were either nonexistant or old jeep trails, and the old logging railroad bed, Dobbin Grade. The excitment back then was, with compass and topo, to bushwack and see what was over the next ridge. With the NFS marked trails now life is more civilized. But the thrill of hiking the high country, of wind swept heath, of scattered stands of spruce or beech and of wide vistas over looking verdant valleys... it's still there.

By: Amanandhisdog Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 02, 2010

I went to Dolly Sods for the first time last Friday (4-2-10). I have to say that the road is very rough once you leave the paved area and hit the dirt road. However, I have to say that I never hit bottom in my car on any rock and I have a Scion XB, You just have to take it relatively slow and watch for rocks.

The last 1.3 miles before you hit Bear Rocks were closed, so I parked my car, grabbed my dog and my water, and walked there. There were no views along the road, save for nice waterfalls both on the left and right due to snowmelt. When I got to the ridge, the view was absolutely spectacular, and you could see for miles and not see a single building.

I found the first trail, Bear Rocks Trail, and that isabout 1/4 of a mile after the parking area for the rocks and Dolly Sods. I was limited for time so I used my GPS and figured out that there are many hikes, some short and some much longer. I took a series of trails (Bear Rocks trail and Beaver Dam trail) that took me in about a 4 mile loop. The scenery was absolutely spectactular and in some cases unequaled from what I have seen from other East Coast hikes, particularly once you hit the streams and the wooded areas. The last thing that I found kind of cool was the fact that it was 83 degrees and I was in shorts, yet when I returned to the road from Beaver Dam Trail I found out why it was closed. Apparently during the storms in February snow had drifted so high in the shaded areas that it was still 2 feet deep right in the middle of the road. How high that snow must have been to still be there even with the warm weather we had been having! There was no way around it, so I had to walk straight through it. It was really quite strange being hot and having your feet freezing cold at the same time.

The last thing I would say about this area, is that it is very marshy and at times downright wet and muddy, so I would recommend replacement socks/shoes/or boots. But to me that just added to the experience. I was not expecting to go on top of a mountain and find marshland. It really seemed kind of surreal.

If you like the feeling of peace and solitude, if you are willing to go beyond just the view at bear rocks and take the trails to find the true beauty of natural wilderness, this area is for you.

By: GaliWalker Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 07, 2009

In the wee hours of the morning, with rain hanging in the hills and AC/DC blaring from the speakers, I roared into West Virginia high country, here I come!

Sep 7th, 2009: Dolly Sods Wilderness

Mountains have been hard to come by, here in the Pittsburgh area. Loads of hills and other goodies, but the high country had remained elusive. A few people recommended West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest so, after some homework, I settled on the Dolly Sods Wilderness region. This high plateau (~2700ft-4000ft) promised nice hiking and especially open views, which had been relatively hard to come by in Pennsylvania's green hills.

I had an ambitious day planned so was out of the house by 2:30am. My first planned objective had been to catch the sunrise at Bear Rocks and its awesome views (not part of the hike). Rain and dark clouds meant that this was a bust, so I saved that for a non-rainy day. (Snafu #1.)

I only had a map with me (in Pittsburgh, West Virginia guide-books are hard to come by on short notice) so promptly drove to the wrong trailhead. (Snafu #2.) There was a trailhead sign and a fair number of cars parked, the location seemed to tally (somewhat) with what I could see on my map, and there was a wide trail heading off into the hills. Moron that I am, I took this one...a half-hour later I knew that I had made a mistake so back I went. Oh, did I mention that I first explored the correct route but abandoned it too soon.

Finally, after chatting with some back-packers who were finishing off their hike, I found out that the road ended little more than a mile shy of the trailheads. 15min later I was at the start of the Big Stonecoal Trail and on my hike. Right from the beginning the scenery was spectacular. With the light rain the colors of the ferns (both green and gold), mountain laurel, and even the ground, were turbo-charged. Almost unreal

The trail was easily graded by the surface, at times, was a rocky, rooty mess. A couple of miles into the hike I entered a creepy grove of previously burnt, dark trees. The branches were completely bare and stuck out like porcupine quills. Gawking at the weird sight I took a wrong turn and was soon happily squishing my way through a boggy area, where I encountered bear paw-prints, gravel bars and meandering Big Stonecoal Run. (Snafu #3, but not really, since the entire area was extremely scenic.)

My original plan was a longish loop, but with the various time-consuming snafus along the way this had to be cut in favor of a much shorter loop. So, once back on the Big Stonecoal trail, I turned left onto the Rocky Point trail. Think of the worst creek-bed style trail you can and that was the Rocky Point trail...ugh. A short way into the trail I took a  side trip up to Rocky Point. This was the best part of the hike. Meadows, ferns, flowers, autumnal colors, cool rocky outcrops with views of the surrounding mountains, and best of all, a trail that vended its way through an honor-guard of young pines.

After the side trip to Rocky Point, followed by another side trip down to a cascading waterfall, I put on the after-burners. The remaining ankle-twisting mess of the Rocky Point trail was dispatched quickly. After intersecting with the Red Creek trail, I motored along until I hit the Breathed Mountain trail, which would complete my loop. Quick progress slowed down here as I encountered gorgeous meadows and fern/boulder gardens. I was still able to maintain a 3mi/hour clip though and reached my car 9.5hr/14mi after starting.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 13, 2009
Did this hike on a Thursday and saw very few people... not a sole once we got onto Raven Ridge Trail.  Mid August is a great time to do this hike - there were billions (not kidding!!) of berries - blueberries and huckleberries.  We picked and ate so many berries that it took almost 2 hrs to reach Rocky Ridge Trail, and realized if we wanted to finish before night fall we would have to stop eating berries - still couldn't resist a big fat one occaisionally.  If you actually look up instead of down in amazement of all the berries, you are greeted with a variety of landscapes.  All awesome.  Grassland/Meadows, hardwood forest, dark spruce forest (near intersection of Raven Ridge and Rocky Ridge), rocky outcrops and of course the infamous bog on Dobbin Grade Trail.  In retrospect, I laugh at the difficulty we had through the bog (the section between intersections of Raven Ridge and Beaver Dam) but would probably avoid if I did this hike again.  At first we had some success at hopping from rock to rock, then tried to go around some areas (I know this is not accepted hiking ettiquette however, some areas looked capable of sucking you under - probably an exaggeration - but I was not willing to find out) - this tactic proved mostly unsuccessful as it felt as though you were walking on a giant floating sponge and you had to move fast to avoid sinking to unknown depths.  Had one moment of fear when I jumped from a rock onto what I thought was "solid" ground and my foot punctured the sphagnum moss mat and plunged calf deep into I'm not sure what.  I quickly pulled my foot out and moved on.  All in all, a great hike and would like to explore more in the Dolly Sods area in the future.  Thought we might see some evidence of bear because of all the berries, but did not.  In fact, no wildlife other than birds.  One other note - I actually drove a small motorhome (21 ft) up FR 75 - would not recommend doing this in anything larger or coming back down this way (no guard rails) - we took the other road down (near Bear Rocks) and it was not as bad.

By: J.R. Sacha Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2009
We followed the path laid out on this web site, and the first 8 miles of the hike were great.  However, the last 2.8 miles were no fun.  Other reviewers mentioned the "bog" near the end of the hike - which starts on Dobbins Grade Trail (#526), just after you pass the Beaver View Trail (#523) - but which gets truly horrible just after you pass the Raven Ridge Trail (#521).  This bog consists of soft mud and ooze, and it completely covers the trail and all possible ways around it.  There is no way to follow the trail (or try to forge a new trail nearby) without having your feet sink into the mud - all the way up to your ankles.  So, if you don't have truly waterproof shoes/boots that protect your feet all the way up past your ankles, then your feet will get totally soaked and full of mud, and the final hike out and back to Hwy 75 will be no fun.  My wife & I are laughing about this now, but we would have enjoyed the experience more if we had avoided the bog.

By: WyEast Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 21, 2009
Gorgeous hike! One of the most breathtaking places I've been out east. The Mountain Laurel were in bloom, spotting the landscape in pink and, in some places, taking over the landscape entirely. The views are terrific and the high meadows spectacular. I'd go again in a heart beat - only I would avoid most of the Dobbin Grade trail. Most of the trail (not just the part near the trail head) was a boggy mess. Especially the last leg before the Beaver Dam trail. I might make a larger loop next time in order to avoid most of the lower points on the hike. I also might pack more than one set of spare socks if I were to do the same loop.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 24, 2009
This hike will grow on you, and become a favorite.  At first get out of your car and try to shake your ass awake after the three mile drive up a dirt road.  Then you look out at the vast wilderness and think "boy, I hope something big doesn't eat me."

But soon you get acquainted with the idea of being dinner and life falls into place. 

After a short while you come out of the trees and get your first unobstructed view of the landscape.  It is truly amazing.  There is nothing like in the Mid Atlantic.  You cry a little... then you laugh a little... then you have a cookie.  After that you climb back up into the wilderness and it occurs to you... "God, I hope I brought toilet paper..."  But that fear passes as you come out of the trees and see the rocks line the mountain top.  For a moment you find the answer to life and everything makes sense.  You settle onto one of the large rocks for a quick lunch, admiring the complete solitude overlooking your domain and all is well.  Off in the distance there is a lake and you wonder "what lucky SOB has a home there?"

Then you see them.  These 'other' hikers wandering around your new kingdom.  You pull out your knife and consider going to war... but then you decide to eat a Cliff Bar and wave hello...

You continue on.  Downward now off the mountain.  The view is wonderful.  Suddenly a word starts to float in your thoughts "Water."  You cannot quite place why, just a feeling you have.  A trickle here... a small stream there... nothing to worry about though... after all you have water shoes and the best boots money can buy...

The first water crossing is easy.  You laugh at mother nature, not even bothering to take out your water shoes.  With the deft use of hiking poles and balance, you traverse the water without incident.  Then your thoughts float back to the couple you saw earlier... no hiking poles... they'll never make it out alive... Poor bastards should have shopped at REI more often.  Oh well.

Water.  Again this word starts to play in your mind.  You look out on the path before you see puddles here and there... still nothing to fret.  But you wonder.... in this beautiful place.... miles from civilization.... how much water can there possibly be?  Bah, you have it covered.  After all... you have lots of cool gear. 

Then you see the dead people floating by... or wait... was that Lord of the Rings?  Either way... there's definitely more water now.  You come to a crossing where you are damn glad you brought water shoes.  A quick check of the map.  Only a couple more miles.  No sweat.  Cross this stream, then it's a straight shot back.  After successfully negotiating the stream you put your boots back on and think to yourself "Ha!  No problem at all.  The bog wasn't so bad.  Just a few hundred yards before the stream.  No worries.  Those people on Hiking Upwards are obviously much shorter than me."

A few hundred feet later you discover the word "bog" has a very specific meaning.  Especially in the spring time.  It is roughly translated as "Oh my God, there cannot be that much mud, that deep, for that long of a time."  You start looking for a large animal to antagonize in hopes of being eaten.  In front of you is over a mile of mud.  There's a boy with a horse... the horse is sinking... the boy call out "Artex!  I won't give up, don't quit!" ... to the left is a sign "The Swap of Sadness" ... off in the distance you see a giant turtle.

After exhausting the expletives in the English language you turn to Spanish.. then French.  Then you think..."So this is what gaiters are for."

Still, soon enough you are free of the bog.  Another water crossing and you are back at the beginning.  At the end you are happy and content.  It's a great way to spend a day and you start thinking of people to take with you next time you visit. 

By: WyEast Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 29, 2008
We wanted to make a late fall/early winter attempt at this hike but arrived at the FR only to find that it had recently snowed, thawed, and frozen over making the last five miles to the trail head impassable for anyone without a 4WD/chains. We had neither. We will go back after WV thaws out in the spring. We'll be very excited to finally get this hike in. (Gave this hike a star rating only because the site forced me to pick one.)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2008
I hiked Dolly Sods over 2 weekends in October for the first time this year. The first time I turned around at the main ridge second time did the whole loop. The first weekend was at peak foiliage, and the colors were thrilling. The walk was great, but a little crowded from time to time with groups of hikers from colleges as far away as Baltimore. But Mother Nature has too much to offer at Dolly Sods to let a few people get in the way. The second weekend was almost as spectacular. My only issue was with the Dobbins Grade section of the trail coming down off the heights. Once you cross the creek and turn left, it was a wee bit more than a little "boggy". There was significant standing water on the trail, and trying to bypass it put you in knee deep "bog" or mud. Once, it almost sucked my hiking boot off! I know this place is slated for designation as wilderness, but the "boardwalk" type footing that's in place on the first leg of the trail over the marshy areas might be a good idea for the final leg as well. A very small issue that certainly gave me lots to regale folks about when I got home. A terrific hike for anyone, and well worth the effort.

By: Jeremy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 16, 2008
Makes for a full day coming from the DC area - 6 hours of driving, 6 hours of hiking - but worth it. Lots of great views, some nice variation in scenery, and a lot of trails so that you can adjust how strenuous your hike is. I did the route listed here but veered off the on the side trails a couple times for some additional views. The rocky ridge trail was definitely the highlight for me, as well as a number of interesting campsites I came across. It was a relatively secluded trip I didn't run across a single person on the trail until mid-afternoon, although by the end I had passed about a half dozen groups.

As another reviewer mentioned, the section of the Dobbin trail nearest the parking lot is a mess I hit a few spots where I sank into the mud nearly up to the tops of my hiking boots. Might want to avoid that portion if you don't want to get your feet wet. Also don't forget sunscreen if you burn easily - I had some, but forgot to do my neck and ended up with a nice sunburn.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 09, 2008
Well I'll begin my review here with news that Dolly Sods North is close to becoming designated as a Wilderness, to join the Dolly Sods Wilderness below it. Link

So why did I go here? Well I did Dolly Sods Wilderness on Memorial Day weekend, but was disappointed that the upper elevations in that area was still as dead as winter. So I've been waiting some months to see this place in all-out greenery. I was not disappointed!

I did a longer loop than this route, I traveled down to the Harman trail, and took Blackbird and Upper Red Creek to regain Dobbin Grade. Speaking of Dobbin Grade, that trail is a big mess. Next time I will travel back via the Raven Ridge trail in hopes of avoiding that mess. My route added about 3 miles of distance and 500' of ascent.

The views: nothing else compares.
Blueberries: everywhere!

The only negative is that it really isn't as "out there" as you think. On the northern edges of the Raven Ridge trail, there's a nice view of a couple smokestacks spewing out their healthy goodness. On the Rocky Ridge trail, you can see a nice fancy mountain home is being built on the side of the mountain right below Rocky Knob. I could hear a construction vehicle's alarm as it was driving in reverse from there.

There's also a wind farm just across Canaan Valley that you can just see. Not sure if that one is a positive or negative.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 13, 2008

What an amazing place!  Definitely one of the wildest areas in the east, it feels like you traveled a couple thousand miles north into the Canadian wilderness.  Lots of beautiful Red Spruce and bogs make this a very unique landscape for this part of the country.  A perfect place for viewing wildlife, todays count was 30+ deer and 0 people on the trail, good stuff!  Lots of rabbits and turkeys as well to keep you on your toes.

The ride from Arlington only took 2h 45m, a bit less than google maps had anticipated, nevertheless this is a bit far to travel for a day hike, but certainly well worth it.  Nearly all trails were wet, Dobbins trail was VERY wet, you will get soaked here, bring extra shoes and socks for sure.  After yesterdays rain, the 2nd Red Creek crossing on the return was ankle deep, brrr.  Snowed nearly all day today, easily 15-20 degrees colder than the surrounding valleys.

I'm sure someone else mentioned this, but the gates on Forest Road 75 are still closed, i guess they are opened in May?  Regardless, I ended up parking at the south end of 75 (follow Jordan Run a couple miles farther for alternate entrance) and making the 6 mile "warm up" hike up FR 75 to this loop.  I was gung-ho at the time....23 miles roundtrip made for a long day.

In closing i would recommend this hike to anyone, it is unbelieveable country....i can't wait to see it in the height of summer.  Trails are quite easy to follow, Rocky Ridge is a little unclear in spots, just look for the cairns.

By: B. Gordon Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 11, 2007

This is a little longer than I like to drive for a weekend hike, but I was not disappointed.  It took about 4 hrs from Richmond to get to the trail head.  The last 4-5 miles to the trailhead is a gravel road and fairly steep so just when I thought I was making good time, I had to slow down to 10-15 mph. The trail is not too far from Seneca Rocks so I camped at Seneca Shadows Campground after my hike and had Seneca Rocks in the background. What a great way to top off the day even after all the beautiful views on the hike.  As some of the other reviewers have stated, your boots will probably get wet.  This was especially true on Saturday due to some heavy rain on Thursday but it was worth getting my feet wet, the views just did not stop!!!

By: Steve from Hanover MD. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 03, 2007
The next time you think you want to take your favorite hike over again, think again and go west. You'll have to have waterproof boots but other than that make sure the memory card in your camera is empty before you start.  So many vistas, so little time. Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 17, 2006
I posted this with a bogus hike date for a reason. I normally don't like to tell folks 'I told you so!' but ......  I've hiked places in PA, MD, VA and WV over the last 9 years. The only place in this region I can honestly give 5 stars to is the Mon in WV. I think now you know why!

By: Andrew Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 02, 1998
Wonderful hike. Just be careful if you go in the spring or fall. The weather up there is very different from the lower elevation weather. I hiked on a high 60's day and woke up with about 5 inches of very dry, powdery snow on the ground. As I recall, snow was not predicted and I was not as prepared as I should have been. Obviously everything worked out, but the trail was gone and many trail markers were snowed over, even on the trees. I had some tense moments working to make sure I stayed on the trail. Fantastic area, just be prepared for more serious weather than you think you are likely to encounter!

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