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Hiker Comments for the Dolly Sods/Lions Head Hike - 1 to 42 of 42   
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By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 3, 2019
Haven't done the hike but was wondering if its possible for a fit, fast hiker to do it in a day (albeit a long one). Thanks in advance for the advice!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 10, 2018
A beautiful and pristine wilderness! I visited when summer was in full swing, which is the best time to go if you wish to taste the wild huckleberries which are found all over the place.

I can confirm that black bears call this place their home! Ensure that you hang your food/keep it in an NPS approved bear canister if camping overnight or for multiple days. And, do not forget the black bears are easily scared away by making a commotion (unlike grizzlies).

Practice Leave No Trace principles, and please do not cut down living trees for firewood. Better yet, pack in a camping stove for your meals (a great backup should you not find sufficient dead firewood).



By: Schnitzel Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 9, 2018
When reviewers or websites offer a hike as being a "must see" or "best of the area"... I wonder.

This trail deserves the accolades.

With variation of both scenery, elevation, and foliage with a mix of different challenges, this one is a must for anyone within a few hours of the trailhead.

I hiked this for three days with my father. We left on a Monday aware that there might be crowds which seemed the case as the lot had cars parked in various spots along the road hinting that this is a popular trailhead on the weekend. Animal report: Lots of deer, no bear (although a couple of hikers said they heard one in the middle of the night) and just a little snake. No real mosquitos which concerned me as we slept under a tarp only and with all the mention of bogs.

Worth noting: 1) Bring plenty of water, especially the first day as there is really no source except at the beginning and towards the end of day one. There a great place to stop at the view of Canaan with a rock wall created as a windbreak for those interested in either a out and back or stopping early - not much more room than for one tent. And there are indeed portions where there are rock outcroppings that one MUST look for the cairns to stay on trail -- many thanks to those that did that work. We didn't have too much trouble but I think we got off trail and ended up using a game trail that found its way back to the main trail. We camped (night one) in the sites on the left around mile 8 which, as seems to often be the case, the campsites just a mile or so further are much better and open -- creek runs through / near those sites we chose but the sites at 9 plus miles are much better. 2) The hike toward the top of Lion's Head is a real scramble. I recommend leaving your pack after you turn up at the pyramid cairn (on the left at the start of the spur). It certainly is beautiful at the top, but you'll work for it -- both in climbing and descending as well as finding the trail to get back down. NOTE: quite a rocky trail portion from the cairn for a couple of miles that had one grumbling about possible turned ankles. 3) Second night next to the creek offers a good deal of sites -- disappointing though that often campers forget to / don't think about bury their own crap from the many TP remains found at trails that spurred off from the creek. Otherwise no real trash to speak of at what looks to be a very popular spot. 4) The hike up from the creek and out saw plenty of ripe blueberries, but no hints of bear, 5) be aware of the bogs and their effect on keeping your shoes wet (even in the midst of the summer in which we saw no rain) -- we took the recommendation to not take the short cut back to the trailhead through what looked from a distance like a low lying beaver dam area. BTW another great camping spot around Mile 17 before getting to the creek that runs through an open meadow.

A great hike. Great scenery. Wonderful to hike across open balds -- a rarity in this part of the country. While cooler here than in RIC, definitely should have brought and drank a great deal more water (especially important on day one). Highly recommend this trail -- in fact any of the Monongahela trails have been spectacular that I have been hiked.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The previous reviews are excellent, but thought I'd share some additional thoughts that might be helpful. This loop is sheer awesomeness the scenery constantly changes and the terrain is incredibly unique for the East Coast.

A couple thoughts on getting there: if you're coming from the West (Pittsburgh, Morgantown, etc), using the northern entrance to FR75 off Jordan Run Rd. is a grind. To begin with, navigating the mountain switchbacks on Rt. 37 in the vicinity of Mt. Storm puts you at turtle speed, followed by a very steep rugged climb up FR 75 to Bear Rocks trailhead. On the way home, we exited the Sods by heading south on FR 75 to Laneville Rd. From there it's a easy trek on Rt. 32N into Canaan Valley and back to Rt. 219N.

We didn't have too many problems navigating the trail. The intersections are very well-marked. The most challenging spot was in the boulder fields along the Rocky Ridge Trail (524). There are a few cairns to follow through the boulders, but then they disappear and the trail appears to go into the woods to the left. Don't go this way. Be patient and continue to follow the ridgeline boulders and the trail eventually reappears and becomes obvious.

We camped at the preferred campsite at mile 9.4 along Stonecoal Creek and it's spectacular. Note that it's about 100 yards off the trail on the opposite side of the creek, so you'll have to go back to the original creek crossing again in the morning to continue south on Big Stonecoal Trail (513) through an incredibly pretty section of trail through hemlocks and rhododendron lining the creek.

We were stoked to find Lion's Head and had a great lunch up there on the rocks. Keep an eye out for a spur trail off of the Rocky Point Trail (554) that could be easily missed look for a little opening in the rhododendron on your left with a short rock scramble through the woods. At the top the trail hooks right and you'll pass through a pine forest and a couple of cool campsites before the trail leads to open boulders and massive views of Red Creek Canyon. You are actually standing right on top of Lions Head, so if you walk about 60 yards to the right you can look back where you were standing for a clear view of Lion's Head. To get back to Rocky Point trail, follow the boulders to your right and look for a series of cairns leading you through a very tight (but cool!) rocky descent through very thick rhododendron back to the trail. Hang a left when you hit the main trail again and continue north on Rocky Point Trail. NOTE: if you miss the first entrance to the spur trail, you may wind up on the trail we descended from Lion's Head. That's OK, you'll just take the same trail up and down from the summit.

We also scored the deluxe campsite at the Forks of Red Creek. Clearly, hiking mid-week has its advantages! Taking a dip in the creek is glorious after summiting Lion's Head and completing the punishing trek on Rocky Point Trail. Bring river sandals - they come in handy for swimming and getting out of your hiking boots at camp. A word of caution at Red Creek Forks - if there's a risk of heavy rain overnight, consider camping on the opposite side of the river so you can avoid a potentially treacherous river crossing in the morning. It rained hard nonstop overnight and the creek was a raging torrent when we woke up, forcing us to ford the river in our hiking boots and hike the remaining six miles to the car in wet boots. Also, when you cross the creek, stay to the left and look for the trail. The trail to the right only goes to campsites.

I can't wait to go back. The mountain laurel was in full bloom, though mid-June is too early for blueberries. We didn't see any bears, but lots of deer and a very curious snowshoe hare who greeted us at camp on day 1 and hung out at the edge of our campsite all evening. Lots of small harmless snakes spotted on the trail in the bear rocks area, including a cool bright green species I'm not familiar with.

Shoot me a note if you have any questions.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 27, 2018
We did the three day option for the Dolly Sods/Lion's Head hike and it is clear why this loop is so popular (we saw about twenty or so people a day, and there were probably about fifty people camping at the Forks when we settled down for day at around 2 p.m. 90% of the backpackers that we came across were doing this loop). The hike, while muddy and rocky at points, is overall an easy backpacking loop with big payoffs. The Lion's Head trail is easy to find and has great views, and the Forks is a beautiful place to relax and swim. The Meadows with the granite boulders were also very beautiful and made the first longer day worth it.

However, there were a few things that made this hike somewhat difficult.

Directions that were hard to follow: - Mile 3.8 on day one refers to a windswept boulder field that is tricky to navigate. We came to the view of Canaan valley and saw four or five cairns leading up to the boulder field. However, there were no cairns that we could see after that distance. We ended up taking another well worn trail into the woods and around the boulders, which it was clear that many hikers took despite the three cairns marking the top of the ridge. Unfortunately, the unofficial trail that we came across dead ended in a loop and a lot of bushwacking - if you come here, you need to head to the right, where the trail is eventually marked and then intersects with the official trail. New cairns need to be made for the boulder fields - we were sorry that we missed this part of the hike, but there were eight other hikers who also got lost and we all had to work our way out of the woods together.

- Mile 13.2 on day two says to "continue straight". You can't continue straight - the trail gives a right or left option. To head to the Forks, you need to go LEFT up the hill. If you go right down the hill you will come to several nice campsites next to the river, which makes for a nice lunch spot after summitting the Lion's Head, but it is the wrong way.

Unfortunately, the worst thing about Dolly Sods is the huge amounts of people. The Forks may have been "popular with the college set" back in the day, but the only people we saw were families and huge groups of men in their forties trashing the campsites (you can't burn beer cans guys). We also had a very uncomfortable encounter with three day hikers, all men, two of whom were openly carrying hand guns - one guy, who was rude to us, had his gun strapped across his chest and the other man had it on his hip with several magazines. There is no reason to carry a gun in a wilderness like this, and with such a prominent display of ammunition, it was an offputting experience, especially as the two of us were women hiking together.

Dolly Sods is a beautiful place, but I would suggest doing the loop in reverse to avoid the crowds, and setting off early everyday to get a good campsite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 7, 2018
Unique area, fantastic scenery, amazing hiking.  The only reason I knocked one star off is that I found it to be more difficult than rated.  The main challenges for me were the amount of water in the area and staying on the trails. 

Be prepared for multiple stream crossings, these are not lightweight.  Bring sandles or river shoes specifically for crossing the streams.  Be prepared for rapid weather changes, cool nights  Suggest hiking in gaiters, there is a lot of mud and water on the trails.  Might have been less wet if I had gone later in the season, I don't know. 

Regarding following the trails I did have some problems as others describe in their posts.   I had to back track a number of times and I was always able to get back on track but vigilance was required.  I had to resort to All Trails a few times to find my position relative to the path (my last resort).  All Trails saved my butt and got me back.  Sometimes I was maybe just 50 feet off.  Definitely need to pay close attention and be prepared for extra time backtracking. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 20, 2018
This is a spectacular hike, and worth a visit. Being early spring, our first night dropped into the low 20's at Big Stonecoal Campsite. There were a couple of occasions we lost the scent of the trail, but overall, trail intersections are well marked. Plenty of water sources, so don't pack heavy on the water. There are some places along the full loop where the trail becomes predominantly cobbles, so be prepared. The most lush and green parts of the trail were along the western edge, over by Big Stonecoal. Take plenty of pictures - you'll be surprise how beautiful they all turn out.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2018
I highly recommend this trail if you want to see a beautiful variety of scenery and don't mind that the trail is not always well marked. It is challenging - mostly for the length rather than the terrain. While there are some significant ascents and descents, they are short and most of the trail is relatively flat.

We did this as a 2-day hike, leaving Saturday morning and getting back around noon Sunday. We hiked nearly all day Saturday, arriving at The Forks and setting up camp under fading sunlight.

This trail is not always well marked and we found the directions to be confusing at some points. Take particular caution at the first crossing of Red Creek (mile 1) and around the rock scramble to Lion's Head (around mile 11). The rock scramble up to Lion's head is more of a spur trail so after you explore Lion's Head, you need to descend back down to Rocky Point trail.

Given the unusually cold spring season so far, most of the trees were still without leaves. We're looking forward to returning in the summer or fall!

By: Kilian Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Great hike, very unique. The Forks is one of the nicest campsites I've stayed at in WV and the views on the entire Rocky Ridge are pretty awesome. It was cold, windy, and snowy the first day but when the sun came out the meadows heated up quick. There's a few places where the path is tricky but with a few minutes of searching it's mostly easy to find.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 28, 2018
Forest Road 75 is closed 4 miles before the start of hike. The conditions were wet and boggy, but we didn't see another person from start to finish, so if solitude and a challenge is what you seek, do this hike in the off season. The route finding in a few places is tricky, especially early on 524. There is a spectacular view from the southern peak. I highly recommend, but be ready for rugged conditions.

By: Ash Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 17, 2017
I did this as a day hike and it was epic.  The amount of variation in the trail was awesome.  The trees had already changed color and the reds, oranges and yellows were just stunning.  What I believe was mountain laurel was blazing red.  This loop has a lot to offer from open meadows, to wind swept rocky areas, to almost jungle density, to rocky ridges that really punish your feet.  I didn't like the few miles of extremely rocky section, but overall it made the other parts that much more enjoyable. 

It took me 8 hours and 10 minutes total, including lots of pictures (which probably added over an hour due to the time it took to get the compositions that I wanted).  Moving time was 6 hours and 15 minutes. 

I will try this again, however I will try and route around the few very rocky miles to get back to the open areas.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 2, 2017
Dolly Sods is flat out amazing. The hike as described here hits most of the high points that you can see in 2 or 3 days and keeps you out of the muck on Dobbin Grade. I love the northern flora that abounds here.

I don't think this write up stresses highly enough how gorgeous Lion's Head is. It has arguably the best views in the entire Mid-Atlantic area and should be a priority for you to visit. Jaw dropping scenery. You should not think of this as something optional. It is a must do.

Trail finding can be challenging at times, but it's part of the adventure and I wouldn't let that deter you from going. Here are three spots where we could have used a little guidance:

1. First crossing of Red Creek on 522. The rocks that you cross angle to the NW. On the far bank, it is unclear where the trail goes next as there are lots of possibilities. Once across, head due west up a steep hill and find the trail climbing to the left in a SW direction.

2. 524 about halfway to 526. The trail is crystal clear until here. At one point, you come upon a rock scramble and the path is marked with two cairns. Just after this, the main trail seems to go left while a small trail heads to what is seemingly an overlook. The main trail is actually to the right and leaves the far left/southern part of the overlook and will be marked with a cairn just out of sight. See my blog for more details.

3. On 514 heading north, once you cross the Left Fork of Red Creek, you're in another situation where you can't exactly tell where the trail goes for a bunch of them fan out from here going to the various camp sites. The trail you want is due north, but you have to bear a little left to find it. A hard left and any of the trails going right go to camp sites.

Bear Rocks to Stonecoal Creek:

Stonecoal Creek to Forks of Red Creek:

Forks of Red Creek to Bear Rocks:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 30, 2017
Just got back from this hike and found a GoPro camera while hiking. Contact me with what model of GoPro and some info about the footage on it and I will send it back to you.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 8, 2017
We hiked in a mile on Bear Rock Trail Thurs eve and camped at Red Creek. Quiet w a little shower but cleared for next 3 days. It's cooler at higher elevation with a lot of wind at the western overlook but what a view. No trail finding difficulties except thru the lower portion of TR 524 where it's easy to wander off, no big deal, just stay heading south and west. The camp sites are all inviting. The must see's on this trail are a) Lion's Head and b) the campsites/swimming creek at TR514/511 and 509. Can be crowded but relaxing. Highly recommend this one.

By: Bahston Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 2, 2017
Amazing trail system with incredible views, incredible streams, waterfalls and just everything else you can imagine. Couple thing I would like to note. This can be very difficult at times. So I'd say at times its 4 if not 5 on difficulty. Rocky Point Trail name is very fitting it is nothing but a bunch of fallen rock on a ridge. May be doffuclt for a novice. LIONS HEAD- when following the directions as listed on this site don't wait to where they say to go up to lions head. After getting off Big Stone Coal trail continue south on Rocky Point and just shortly before the bend will be a marked Cairn trail going up take this. It is a much better trail than the one listed. If you travel and use the "cairn" app on your phone it will show you this trail.

Other than that beautiful place. Would most likely do it again someday

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 28, 2017
Amazing hike! All the reviews are absolutely true. I grew up in Maryland and have hiked all over the area and Dolly Sods is the most dynamic and interesting terrain yet. It rained, it poured, the sun shined -- Memorial weekend 2017 was a dynamic weather weekend, but still a whole lot of fun. One slight variation on the directions is that there are multiple unmarked turns up (left side of trail) to Lion's Head. What seemed like the main Lion's Head turn-off was before the view point, but we found another rock scramble up (which was a lot of fun!) after the view point. The second one was marked with an orange tie. Either way, go up to Lion's Head for fantastic 360 degree views of the area.

***Also after the hike was done I was so euphoric that I left my hiking boots, poles, gators, and socks at the trail head. If anyone finds them, please - please contact me:

Many thanks!

By: Travis Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 22, 2017
Amazing hike, we had a ton of fun. The first few miles are amazing too, you follow the ridge and just get the most amazing views.

Things I wish I knew before I did the hike -

- The trails are not blazed really but rather there are signs at each trail junction and then about 100 feet after the junction. Usually this would be enough but on some trails I feel like you need a little more.

- On 524 there are a lot of deer trails and the trail (at least I think) takes you over some boulders where you cannot see where the trail continues. Pretty easy to get lost up in that part but as long as you stick around the boulders you should be alright.

- There is a pretty spectacular mud pit on 526 on the section of it that follows the red creek. My girlfriend got sucked into it up to her hip!

- Just be aware there are sections of trail that are either flooded out or for whatever reason are not well passed. There are clear areas where hikers have been going around it for some time but sometimes these are deer trails and will not actually take you back to the trail. Also there are other times where there is another "trail" that looks just as well maintained as the actual trail but are not on the map and may eventually take you to a weird campsite a half mile away (totally not personal experience there).

- Be ready for cold! We left when Pittsburgh was 80 degrees and when we got to the Sods it was 55. Got down to 42 that night and didn't get much above 45 and rainy the rest of the next day.

Overall I loved the hike and after doing it once I think it will be more enjoyable the next time I go.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 16, 2017
We did the 3-day version April 16-18, 2017. Read our review and annotated H.U. directions (with lots of photos) here:

By: Dave Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 14, 2017
Awesome hike, beautiful scenery. Did the hike with my son as a 2 night hike. We did the hike pretty much as detailed, but stayed at one of the upper coal run campsites on the 1st night. On the 2nd day we got a decent start, playing around on lionshead and having lunch at the forks on Red Creek, then pushing to the campsite just past the junction of 521 and 526, across the stream. Made it there by around 2:30 PM, and leisurely set up camp, but had everything all set when a front rolled across Dolly Sands at 6:00 PM (awesome watching the rain and winds come across the fields and hit our tent:-).We pushed to there so we only had a 4.3 mile hike out the next morning.

By: Colin Smith Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 4, 2017
This area is incredible. The fire roads were all closed so the only access was the Red Creek Trail Head. It was 6 degrees and there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground when we embarked. We made it 514 to trail 510 and turned around at the river. We spent the night down at a camp site closer to the Red Creek Trail Head. There are many creeks to cross, not always the easiest in the winter. The rivers were all but impassable unless you wanted to de-boot and duke out the icy water (we weren't in the mood). I can't imagine how muddy this would have been had it not been freezing, there are COUNTLESS streams/creeks that go over/through the trail.

By: Dianam Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Beautiful trail. We made he mistake of taking Dobbin Grade route. Agree..don't do it! Boggy mess, no signage. We thought we were lost. The bogs are hard to avoid and I sank mid shin. A little scary.

By: Great Trip! Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 13, 2016
We visited Lions Head last month after exploring the southern portion of the Sods, so this month's outing was to visit the northern section. Spent Friday night in a spruce grove on Bear Rocks trail on the left just before the intersection with Dobbin Grade trail. Didn't bother with getting a fire going as finding firewood in such a well used site is nearly impossible. It was kind of nice to not have clothes smelling all smoky. Refilled bladder at Red Creek crossing in the morning and then continued on over to the west side. We lost the Rocky Ridge trail as we left the open meadow rock field overlooking Canaan valley in the first mile of the hike and spent a good hour trying to figure out where it went (we weren't the only ones). The trail looks like it continues straight after you pass the windswept giant 12' tall boulder on your right. Don't take the left fork. If you do, it looks like the trail but eventually gets tight and it become obvious it isn't but with so many side trails, we had to check every one. Follow the trail around the boulder, out to the rocks, and then swing a left and down the backside. We put up some rock cairns so others would not have the same issue we and others had. Once we found the trail we had no other issues. Camped along the Blackbird Knob trail at the water crossing. Lots of people camped here for a non-holiday weekend but we guessed it was due to the heat wave and others seeking some cooler temps. We headed back to the car the next morning via Blackbird Knob, Upper Red Creek, and Raven Ridge trails. We opted to cut our mileage by taking the unofficial dobbin grade bypass trail that comes in from the right halfway up the Raven Ridge trail and connects to Bear Rocks at the top of the climb up from Red Creek. It sees light use so it isn't as worn like other trails in the Sods but we had no issue following it to connect back up with the Bear Rocks trail. Lots of nice campsites along the way too and plenty of blueberries. We grabbed lunch and freshened up at the crossing before completing the last mile back to the car, where we saw a yearling black bear, our first bear sighting in the Sods since we started coming here yearly five years ago. I second others in not taking Dobbin Grade . We've done it a couple times, but we know what to expect. We saw a group of dayhikers coming down that trail and they were clearly having issues.

By: Wv girl Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 13, 2016
I have wanted to do the Dolly sods Circuit for a long time and after reading all the reviews it seem like quite the place to go. Instead of starting a bear rocks like hikingupward suggested I started up at the red Creek trailhead. My loop was red Creek Trail to breathe mountain trail to Big stone coal trail back to Redcreek. I did hit the Rocky point Trail for the .25 mile hike to Lionhead which was well worth it. There are tons of campsites right by Lionhead which looked quite amazing and I did not see a lot of people comment about that. There are a lot of campsites on Big Stone call as well even on the Sods. Saw a 5 foot copperhead snake in Redcreek which freaked me out a little bit but after it left went In for a dip. The cascascading falls on Redcreek are well worth the hike and time out of your day to just enjoy the beauty of the falls and the cooler water in the pool below. Counted about 60 hikers and backpackers in my first day and then just decided to lose count. Didn't need to worry about somebody not finding me if I hurt myself LOL. Trailheads are well marked and lots of really great diversity in this hike. Overall my hike was 15.9 miles, with an overnight at Big Stone Coal making this it a little shorter than the suggested hike but next time I will do the suggested hike and start up at Bear Rocks.

By: Emily Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 6, 2016
This was a fantastic hike!

We came from Baltimore, so stretched it out to four days to accommodate the long drive there & back. We camped the first night just after Bear Rocks joins the Raven Ridge trail, in a little evergreen stand where we were visited by many deer through the evening. The second night we stayed at Stonecoal run, and on the last night went a bit farther along Blackbird Knob, past the turn to the Upper Red Creek trail, where there are some lovely creekside sites--this made for a slightly shorter last day since we had to drive back, and only required a little backtracking in the morning. Some cheeky squirrels did nibble into our bear bags at this site, though.

This made for 2.5 miles on the first day, 6.9 on the second, 6.6 on day three, and 5 miles before leaving on the last day.

Everyone in my party of four was constantly in awe of the scenery on this hike. There is a great diversity of landscapes, and every bit of the trail is interesting and beautiful. The waterfalls were a highlight, as well as a quick dip in Red Creek near the forks, and the gorgeous rocky views and abundant berries. We had great weather with no rain, and the stream crossings were all done on stepping stones. I had brought sandals for wading, but I imagine that's only necessary in the Spring or after some wet weather.

It gets cold at night in Dolly Sods, especially in the high meadows, so bring along some warm clothes!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Hiked out with my fiancee Thursday afternoon and tried to make it the full 9 miles the first day. It was our first hike in a while, and first together in the mountains, so 9 miles in 6 hours was a bit ambitious. We may have done better if we had been watching the weather, but instead got caught in a thunderstorm between Dobbin Grade and Harman. We took cover and thought about waiting it out like previous showers, but instead, we got drenched to the bone, found a campsite and learned some lessons about waterproofing. Instead of continuing down Big Stonecoal the next morning, we cut across Blackbird Knob and out the 2nd day. Overall about 11.5 miles.

It's a beautiful area and we will be back to finish, but be sure you and your gear are prepared and be mindful of conditions at all times.

No bears spotted, but we had bells on our bags making noise. Mostly just saw deer. Also, lost the trail on Rocky Ridge along some rocks, found it and followed it until it dead-ended and had to pound some brush along what looked like a deer trail until we could find it again. Cairns were very little help in this area. I was almost tempted to follow the trail back to see where we went wrong but didn't on account of already losing about 45 minutes finding it again.

By: Jenny F. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 2, 2016
This is a question: I'm not familiar with this hike. What is the wildlife like and what kind of food storage should I be using? I typically just use a waterproof stuffsack and string it up if I'm not too concerned about bears.

From There are bears in Dolly Sods. You should use an elevated bear bag at least 50 yards from your campsite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 30, 2016
Hiked in about 3 miles on Bear Rocks Tr 522 to Raven Ridge Tr 521. Spent the night under the Red Spruce Grove which was cool but spooky at night by myself. Woke up about 3am to a doe standing about 10 feet away. Headed out in the morning for the views on Rocky Ridge Tr 524 but spooked a black bear on the trail half way there. I realized later that it was only because I was being too quiet on my own. Anyway, I turned slowly and hiked out to my truck. Really spooked me more than the bear. Going back again in late August this year WITH a partner and we WILL make noise. :) Other than the scare, which was my fault, it's a beautiful area with sweeping vistas. Definitely recommended.

By: Scoutmaster Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 10, 2016
We took our Troop out for two nights in the Sods and hiked the Blackbird Knob trail to Breathed Mountain Trail and back up Red Creek Trail. Sections of the Breathed Mtn trail were very boggy with deep mud, but otherwise it was a fantastic weekend of backpacking. Cannot wait to go again!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Definitely looking to do this hike, but in a shorter day trip, and I believe I have found the way. A couple miles further down FS75 there is the Wildlife Trail (google map it), take Wildlife Trail, take a right on Rohrbraugh Trail, then a left onto Fisher Spring Run Trail, follow that onto Red Creek trail and take that right, from there you will run into Rocky Point trail, take that left and it should guide you to Lions Head! Let me know what you guys think of this trailhead idea for the Lions Head! I will post here again once I've done it!

By: Syntax69 Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 13, 2016
This is a general question. Are there suitable drinking water sources along the hike? I have a Sawyer squeeze to filter the water but I'm not sure if the streams contain any mine run off or other toxic substances.

Answer: The water in Dolly Sods is general filterable and safe to drink, however it has red stain from all the spruce in the area.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 10, 2015
This was an awesome 2 day Hike with my dog. I'm not the fittest hiker, but I cranked out day one at FR75 down the Bear Rocks Trail TR522 to the great views stop Rocky Ridge, to Camping spots on Big Stonecoal with ease. However!! this trail follows the creek for MOST of the way. I missed the left turn where the trail vears to the highground away from the creek. I realized this on my GPS, and decided to bushwack due east and intercept the trail. this was a BAD DECISION! 12" bogs, along with the tight pine forest. I probably lost about an hour finding the trail. If this happens to you Turn back and stay on the trail [not to mention the buried munitions possibility]. Finnaly found a great campsite near the creek just before the Dunkenberger Trail. by nightfall it was very busy with ~20tents[expected in peak season weekend]. Day 2 started with a great view atop Lion Head. the remainder of the hike was expectedly wet, but manageable with WP boots and good footing. The raven ridge trail has some good open views as well across the valley. back up in the trees is where the colors come back to life. Made it back to the car near sunset. Needless to day, Day 2 was more strenuous than the first. may have been more enjoyable as a 2 nighter. *** Rain Jacket Found [10-10-15] *** let me know if you want it back

By: Stan K. Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 24, 2015
My son and I did this as a three day hike. There are lots of high meadows with spectacular views in practically every direction. We went on a Monday - Wednesday and didn't have any trouble finding prime camping spots. Most of the time we felt like we had the whole park to ourselves. The guide and tips that are provided are excellent. The first day we followed the guide and found the recommended camping spot. The second day we had lunch at the recommended camping spot but then hiked further, finding a great camping spot a few miles closer to the exit. We got up and got out of Dolly Sods on day three, allowing ourselves time to drive to Seneca Rocks a few miles down the road and do the 3 mile roundtrip hike there. Those rocks were beautiful but the observation platform was a little bit disappointing. It had a nice view of the valley but not the rocks. If you add on the visit to Seneca Rocks plan on eating at the Front Porch restaurant directly across the street from the park. The food was decent and very reasonably priced but the real reason to go is the view.

By: MV Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
My uncle and I had planned a packing trip out to Dolly Sods a couple months ago and we were almost deterred by the forecasted storms. I'm so glad we pushed through because this really is a truly breathtaking piece of the world. We did this in two very packed days, and the mud from the storm that had passed through did slow us down a bit. The one thing I can verify is to avoid the Dobbin Grade trail entirely. I thought it was just a portion to avoid, but I am here to tell you the entire thing is pretty rough. If it's been raining recently, I also recommend water shoes for the stream crossings/general mud. I was very grateful for my Chacos. All in all, however, a truly incredible experience.

By: Natasha Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
We did this hike over the Memorial Day Weekend. Started out Saturday morning and finished late Monday afternoon. This is one of my favorite places to backpack with the gorgeous scenery and water works to play in. The route was easy to follow, though we opted to go up Dobbin Grade and exit off on Beaver View trail to get back to the Forest Road 75 faster. We've done Dobbins Grade before and knew what to expect with the mucky trail. Be aware that if it is hot out, there are large sections of this loop without shade and it can get quite toasty!

Dolly Sods is no longer a secretive, rugged place for the brave few. We could not believe the crowds when we arrived on Saturday around noon. We barely were able to find a parking space on Forest Road 75 and had to walk a bit to the trailhead. We will not be doing Dolly Sods in the future over a long weekend if I had wanted to camp among a bunch of people and hear noise I'd have gone to a campground. We saw 3 or 4 scout groups and many other groups of people. The trails and campsites are really taking a beating from so many backpackers, many of them exceeding the 10 person limit for groups. At the last campsite we managed to find for the second night, someone left behind all their trash buried under rocks in the fire pit and didn't bother digging cat holes when they needed to relieve themselves. We took care to take out the trash with us and covered the waste to get rid of the flies in the area. People are resorting to cutting down green trees, leaving areas near campsites barren, and are trying to burn 10 feet logs because they don't want to bring a small saw. It is quite sad...

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
Natasha's review of the same date is pretty accurate. We were there the same time, however we did the loop in reverse. We managed to find decent campsites both nights, although it was definitely crowded and the spots marked on the map were all taken. As much as this is a bummer, I figured a holiday weekend with excellent weather would draw the maximum crowd to the area. Visit during the week, off-season, or any ordinary weekend, and I don't think the crowds would be an issue. There are plenty of places to camp, and the area is big enough. Doing the loop in reverse meant we were mostly encountering hikers coming the opposite direction, so we weren't hiking with a large crowd. If you do the loop in reverse, be prepared for an extended uphill from the intersection of Stonecoal and Rocky Point all the way to the northwest corner of the hike. It's not steep, just a consistent upgrade. I would definitely do this hike again, any chance I get, even on another holiday weekend. It's a must-do!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 2, 2015
I had the week off on vacation and a friend was interested in joining me for the Dolly Sodds hike, compressed to the two day option. We left from Tysons Corner, VA around 5:30AM on Thursday and arrived at Dolly Sodds around 9AM. We were in a Toyota Corolla that was just able to make it up the gravelly road to trailhead. Beware of dips and a rocky trench that could potentially cause issues on the drive up. We arrived at a time where the gate up to the actual trailhead was closed, adding an extra 1.5 miles up the rest of the gravel hill to the actual trailhead. As soon as you arrive at the top of the hill, the views are gorgeous. It's very cool to see the high fields and wilderness plateau above the horizon. I won't go into too much detail for the sake of length here, but this was a great hike and is now one of my favorites. Every mile or so it seems that the terrain, or 'biome', changes to something different, which keeps things interesting. High fields, streams, pools, windswept rock fields, a variety of forests, bogs, overlooks, and waterfalls are just some of the different scenery to be expected. The two of us were pretty ambitious and did the first two days of work on the Hiking Upward itinerary up to mile 14.6 (+ the extra 1.5 mile uphill hike from parking). The forks camping was awesome, even with a rainy night, and is very accommodating in the number available campsites and fire pits. Lots of streams and pools too in the event it's warm enough to go play in the water. The second day, we completed a muddy 'Day 3' on the itinerary back to the parking area. The pictures posted for this hike don't do it justice, and it's really something you need to experience for yourself. Compressing to 2 days will provide a bit of a challenge but if you arrive early on Day 1 it shouldn't be too hard to do. PLEASE LEAVE NO TRACE! Regulations in this area seem to be more lax but it's still no excuse to leave more than footprints behind. Some spots could have used some cleanup from human activity. All in all, this is a great hike and one of my new favorites.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 31, 2014
My husband and I made plans to do this hike several weeks ago for this particular weekend. We didn't plan on hiking in the snow, but it was quite the adventure! We didn't get started until 2pm on Friday. It was overcast and chilly, but we bundled up and started on our way. We've hiked Dolly Sods before, so we were ready to do some 'bog-hopping'. We didn't see anyone (only two people) until we got to the view of Canaan Valley on 524 where it also started to snow. The view is amazing! It was also very cool to see all of the rock formations on this part of the trail. We decided to set up camp right before the intersection of 524 and 526. This is a great place even more so because it offers a canopy of protection from the elements. We woke up Saturday morning to a covering of snow....not too much, just enough to enjoy the beauty of it, but we didn't have any on our tent which was tucked in under the pine trees. We started out at about 10am with low visibility, but were awed by the beauty and peace of it all. 513 is not as well marked as 522, 521, and 524, so at times we felt like we might have passed our next trail connection. It just seems longer than it should at times, but we were right on track. Now, a little tip about Lion's Head. There are several little rock-scrambling trails that will take you up the mountainside. The one that you are looking for is right at the end of where there are rocks covering the entire path. You will see on ahead that it changes into more of a wooded setting. This is where you climb up. We climbed up two other places before we found the right one because there were also rock cairns at those points. It snowed/sleeted/rained on us the entire day, but the views were still amazing. We arrived at the Forks of Red Creek at around 4:30. Let me tell you, it's not easy to find wood to make a fire when it has been wet all day. It was windy, cold, and snowing most of the night. We woke up to ice on the inside of the tent and 2-3 inches of snow on the ground. We did our best to get warmed up and packed up before we headed out about 945am. Although the weather was bad, I quite enjoyed the challenge and the beauty of the snow-covered landscape. The ice/snow made it easier in some spots to navigate the boggy areas, but the drifts offered a surprise of stepping into 6-8 inches of snow on occasion. The open meadows were the worst on Sunday because of the strong winds. Note: 521 is almost entirely uphill. On a good day, it probably isn't too bad, but a windy day could make it feel like more than it is. We finished at 1pm on Sunday. 47 hours. Even in the elements, perhaps because of the elements, this hike was truly amazing. We passed a few people on both Saturday and Sunday, but we still felt like we were the only ones out there. We did 5.5 miles the first day, 9.1 miles the second day, and 6.5 miles the third day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 25, 2014
My boyfriend and I hiked at Dolly Sods for the first time this past weekend - it was, true to the HikingUpward description, one of the most incredible hikes we've done. Even in fall, with a lot of brown (we were expecting a few more colorful leaves), it was still very beautiful. We parked at the Bear Rocks parking site, and had intended to take the recommended route but ended up adjusting - we wanted to instead take 522 - 521 - 526 - 509 - 511 - 514 (take a peek at the topographical map if you want to see the route we were going to take), and camp at The Forks since I'd read good things about the camping there. Instead, we accidentally ended up taking 522 - 526 **DO NOTE TAKE THIS ROUTE!!!!** I strongly suggest that you avoid 526 at ALL COSTS (at least the portion that comes off 522 and cuts down to 509) - like HikingUpward notes, it really is a ridiculously boggy mess - I ended up sinking almost up to my waist in one spot, and if my boyfriend hadn't been there to tug me out, I'd probably still be there! To get from the Bear Rocks parking site to our campsite near The Forks took about 4 hours (I tried to keep track of time but didn't do a very good job of it) - we moved pretty slowly while navigating through the bog, but we also had to stop several times to take in how pretty it was! The Forks has several great campsites, many of which have rings of rocks for campfires. Where we camped, the ground was very soft and easy to sleep on. Despite it being fairly late in the season, we met many people on the trail - for that, I would rate Dolly Sods a 2 on solitude. We shared our campsite with a very nice couple, however, so I wouldn't say downranking the trail to a 2 for solitude is a bad thing :) This was a very rewarding hike, even in the fall, so I can't wait to come back in the spring/summer when there will be more color variation, and when the water will be warmer at The Forks for swimming! We will definitely be back, and can't wait until then!

By: Jim Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 16, 2014
I can't believe how popular Dolly Sods has become! I haven't been there in many years and used to think of it as "my little secret in WV". The hike was so beautiful, most of the leaves were blown down from wind and weather but what color that remained was bright and vibrant in little pockets along streams and south facing hillsides. Campsites were still plentiful and clean and other than all the people I am happy to say The Sods looks better with age and wear than I expected. A pat on the back to everyone who hiked there. I did pick up some live shotgun shells along the trail near FS75, if you lost them I put them in a garbage can at the campground.

To see the Lions Head, From FS75 I take the Wildlife trail, #560 then a left onto the Rohrbaugh Plains trail, #508 for 0.8 miles until I come to a white sandstone rock outcrop and cliff. The lion shaped rock is one of the first cliff faces in the chain at the outcrop as you arrive. The hike is only about 2 miles from the parking area so bring some water and a lunch and your camera.

Keep on hiking!

By: Drewski Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 22, 2014
Planned this hike as a 3 day backback, following the suggested schedule listed. Unfortunately, I needed to do it in two because of the weather. Arrived on Friday at 2 PM and was on the trail by 2:30 PM. I hike with my Aussie, Bronson, and like any trail dog he just HAS to go once we get there, LOL. The first three trails of the circuit are mostly open meadows with some woods, several which are very pretty. There's a beautiful tree with soft grass sitting all by itself on the last section of 522 before 521 that's an ideal resting spot. We made the turn south on 524 by 5 PM. This is a long section with some very pretty views. There's an established campsite near one of them that's mostly rock, but if you have enough water it would be a great place to wake up at. The lower section of 524 gets pretty broken up over some rock scrambles and you really need to look for the cairns to stay on the trail. Don't do this section if dark, it's too easy to fall. We arrived at a campsite on 513 before 8 PM and got set up just before it started to rain. On Saturday morning it had cleared some and we continued down 513 at 9 AM. There's a pretty campsite on the banks of Stonecoal Run near the intersection of 558. We passed the Lion's Head section on 554 at about 11 AM but on and off rain made the rock slick, so I wasn't going to try it. We made it to the forks just after noon and had some lunch. As mentioned in the guide, it gets crowded early. It's a very pretty section of falls and streams. Bronson got to meet some new friends. We decided to push on and look for a more secluded campsite. Then it started raining again and everything turned to mud. I decided to try a campsite nearer to the exit but still had hours of daylight by the time we reached 511. When we reached 526, a thick and very wet mountain mist had settled in, with a light wind. The temperature had dropped to 60, so it was cold. Visibility was 50 yards or less. I tried the campsite on 526 but it was already occupied. At that point I decided to go to the car. 521 was mostly dry and not difficult. My last shot was the tree on 522 I mentioned earlier, but someone else had the same idea. I slipped and fell with muddy boots on one of the board walks, so be careful if they are wet. My very dirty and wet dog and I made the car at 7 PM. Regardless of the challenges, this was a GREAT hike, even if wet. A few things. I met a number of people who were lost, they didn't have maps or a GPS. Bad idea. I also met a couple that had run out of water on the northern section of 524, so they had a way to go for a drink. I was prepared for the change in weather, but several people I met were not. A wet t-shirt, shorts and sandals won't keep you warm in cold, windy and wet conditions that can be common at 4,000 FT.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 9, 2014
I hiked this today and really enjoyed it. The meadows are awe inspiring. It's a wonderfully people-friendly place. I recommend this as an outing to bring any non-hiking loved ones to. I'd also advise taking one of the camping sites along The Big Stonecoal Trail as the sites near the falls are at a premium.

It took 13 hours for me to complete with forty minutes for a good lunch. Awesome hike!

Happy trails.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 9, 2014
An amazing hike! After having Dolly Sods on my bucket list for many years, when Hiking Upward posted this hike recently, my friend and I made plans to go as soon as possible. The scenery was spectacular and very unusual for most hikes in this part of the country. The meadows were full of ripe blueberries and wildflowers. By mid afternoon, we arrived at the suggested end of day 1 camp spot at mile 9.4 we decided to keep going to get a few more miles behind us to make day 2 shorter. Even though we had passed many unmarked campsites along the trail to this point, except for 3 sites at the top of Lions Head (and you had to travel off of the main trail to find them), there were no others until just before reaching The Forks at mile 14.6. It was a long day, but the trails were generally easy with few steep sections. Trail 554, Rocky Point, in the area of Lions Head was slow going because of the trail being very rocky, however, once passed it, our pace quickened. The hike out on day two was only 6.5 miles and was just as enjoyable as day 1 because of the varied scenery and relatively easy grade. An alternative two day option may be to do this route in reverse by hiking 11.7 miles to the campsites at Stonecoal Run, and the remaining 9.4 on day 2. It is now one of my favorite hikes in the eastern United States and we're already thinking about going back again to hike some of the other trails at Dolly Sods.

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