The Greatest Hikes within the Dolly Sods

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Crumbling ledges overlooking deeply forested mountains, hidden gorges the place clear creeks tumble into waterfall spray, wild black bears–no, it isn’t the wet west coast of Canada or the sting of Alaska: It’s West Virginia. Within the Dolly Sods Wilderness, day hikers and backpackers can head into a powerful stretch of mountains, hardwood forest and upland bogs, leaving the east coast bustle behind for the hills. No want to move west for this life-list location. You’ve bought all the pieces you want proper right here.

Greatest Dayhikes within the Dolly Sods

Prepared for a style of the Dolly Sods Wilderness, however don’t have time for an in a single day? No want to worry: a dayhike right here will carry you thru almost each ecosystem within the area, plus nice views of the mountains and fields of berries good for snacking. 

Greatest Ridgetop Path within the Dolly Sods: Rocky Ridge Path

The Greatest Hikes within the Dolly Sods
Rocky ridge in Dolly Sods Wilderness (Picture: Pictures by Deb Snelson/Second through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 7.7 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 338 ft
  • Path kind: out-and-back
  • Problem: average

Catch a few of the greatest views within the Dolly Sods from this uncovered ridgeline, the place you’ll be able to look out for miles over the Canaan Valley and the hills of West Virginia. The meadows of the ridgetop are crammed with blueberries in late summer season and fall, good for snacking, and the trail connects with a number of backpacking routes.

Greatest Forest Hike within the Dolly Sods: Rocky Level Path

Hills of the Dolly Sods from trail
Hills of the Dolly Sods from path (Picture: Dennis Govoni/Second through Getty Photographs)

  • Size: 11.2 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 787 ft
  • Path kind: out-and-back
  • Problem: average

This path winds by way of spruce and aspen forests, with one massive stand of regionally uncommon pine timber. Although principally in peaceable, deep forest, the path additionally emerges onto the eponymous “rocky level”, the place forest offers approach to a broad clearing with views of the encircling canyon.

Greatest Creek Hike within the Dolly Sods: Crimson Creek

Red Creek, Dolly Sods
Crimson Creek, Dolly Sods (Picture: Chip Vincent / 500px through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 12.3 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 611 ft
  • Path kind: out-and-back
  • Problem: average

This all-day trek encompasses meadows, forests, and creekside boulders. The creek itself tumbles over sandstone boulders, with vibrant inexperienced foliage leaning in from both aspect. A number of meadows alongside the way in which open to the encircling hills; preserve an eye fixed out for black bears throughout berry season.

Greatest Peakbagging Dayhike within the Dolly Sods: Breathed Mountain

Looking out from the Dolly Sods at the Allegheny
Searching from the Dolly Sods on the Allegheny (Picture: Dennis Govoni/Second through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 11.3 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 1,571 ft
  • Path kind: out-and-back
  • Problem: average

Breathed Mountain seems like a little bit of the far northeast dropped in the midst of West Virginia, with open upland bogs, purple spruce, and blueberry thickets clustered round sandstone cliffs. Savor the panorama with a protracted lunch break on the prime of the three,840-foot summit, choosing your personal handful of berries for a candy mountain desert. 

Greatest Weekend Journeys within the Dolly Sods

Degree as much as an evening within the woods with a weekend journey to the Dolly Sods. Spending all of nightfall and daybreak will increase your possibilities of wildlife recognizing, plus these sunsets and sunrises are laborious to beat. 

Greatest Above-Treeline Weekend Journey within the Dolly Sods: Blackbird Knob 

Blackbird Knob Trail in Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia
Blackbird Knob Path in Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia (Picture: posnov/Second through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 17.3 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 2,991 ft
  • Path kind: lollipop loop
  • Problem: average

Loop by way of Breathed Mountain, Crimson Creek, and Blackbird Knob on this traditional weekend loop. The path begins in a tunnel of rhododendron timber (hit it up in spring for peak blossoms) earlier than heading to evergreen forest and the open upland bogs that give Dolly Sods hikes their open, views of the encircling hills and Canaan Valley.

Greatest First Backpack within the Dolly Sods: Rohrbaugh Path

Hiking across the ridges of the Dolly Sods
Mountain climbing throughout the ridges of the Dolly Sods (Picture: Dennis Govoni/Second through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 8.8 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 280 ft
  • Path kind: out-and-back
  • Problem: average

This brief journey is nice for households, first-time backpackers, or anybody on the lookout for a leisurely weekend ramble within the Dolly Sods. After winding by way of lush forest and occasional views of the encircling hills, the path heads as much as a secluded campsite 2.6 miles in that overlooks the Crimson Creek watershed, Breathed Mountain, and Coal Knob.

Greatest Excessive Plateau Hike within the Dolly Sods: Raven Ridge-Blackbird Knob Loop

Heading up to the top of the Dolly Sods
Heading as much as the highest of the Dolly Sods (Picture: traveler1116/E+ through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 13.7 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 1,695 ft
  • Path kind: loop
  • Problem: average

This loop packs a little bit of all the pieces into simply two days. From a secluded swimming gap to a profusion of berries (cranberry, huckleberry, and blueberry), plus windswept uplands dotted by stunted spruce that look extra like northern Canada than West Virginia, even the pickiest hiker will discover a life-list spotlight.

Greatest Multiday journeys within the Dolly Sods

Greatest Hike within the Dolly Sods for Solitude: Bear Rocks Loop

 Bear Rocks, Dolly Sods Wilderness
Bear Rocks, Dolly Sods Wilderness (Picture: Brett Maurer/Second through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 25.4 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 3, 317 ft
  • Path kind: loop
  • Problem: average

With little elevation achieve and nearly no different hikers, this loop nets hikers the solitude they crave with out the lengthy, laborious climbs typically required to seek out it round right here. Cross Crimson Creek within the lowland woods, then head as much as a boulder-scattered ridgeline and a campsite on prime of Harman Mountain that appears out on extra wilderness throughout.

Greatest Tour of the Dolly Sods: 9 Path Loop

Bear rocks sunrise, Dolly Sods
Bear rocks dawn, Dolly Sods (Picture: ablokhin/iStock through Getty Photographs)
  • Size: 22.7 miles
  • Elevation achieve: 3, 424 ft
  • Path kind: loop
  • Problem: average

Hyperlink collectively 9 completely different trails for a tour by way of half the wilderness space: Bear Rocks, Raven Ridge, Rocky Ridge, Blackbird Knob, Large Stonecoal, Dunkenburger, Little Stonecoal, Crimson Creek, Dobbin Grade, and again to Bear Rocks. Climb to the open uplands, cross precipitous forested ravines, and trek by way of fields of huge boulders in your method by way of the panorama.

 

Mountain climbing Safely within the Dolly Sods

The Dolly Sods are house to black bears in addition to smaller critters that like to get into backpackers’ meals. Grasp your meals cache, plus the rest scented out of your provides, each evening, and make noise when mountaineering by way of thick brush. The Dolly Sods have been additionally used for artillery and mortar coaching throughout WWII, and whereas the craters have grown over, some unexploded ordnance stays; for those who discover one thing, don’t contact it, again away, and let somebody know. You’re unlikely to come across this drawback on-trail, however keep conscious.

What to Pack for the Dolly Sods

Storms often blow by way of the Dolly Sods,particularly in winter and spring, which retains the forest inexperienced but additionally means hikers typically get caught within the rain. Make sure that to carry a sturdy rain shell (and perhaps rain pants, too). If you happen to’re staying in a single day, or headed out on a protracted day hike, carry alongside a water filter or purification tablets.