Dolly Sods Wilderness - West Virginia

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518
This high-altitude plateau is more reminiscent of Maine, not the Mid-Atlantic. Open meadows and bogs, big views, deep forests and cascading creeks make this a backpacking wonderland. I missed peak colors by less than a week thanks to the last dying gasps of Hurricane Delta but it was still magical. Wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Unique history here. The Sods have been logged, grazed and even bombed.
From the Forest Service...
"Beginning in August of 1943, the military used the area for maneuvers and mountain training for World War II. Many of the artillery and mortar shells shot into the area for practice still exist. In 1997, a highly trained crew surveyed the trail locations and known campsites for shells. They found 15, some of which were still live. All were exploded on site. Many more may exist and they are dangerous."
Good times!

I changed up my route at the last minute, and I'm glad I did. Instead of the 20 mile loop starting at Bear Rocks, I decided to basecamp up near Lions Head for two nights for expansive views and more relaxing, less humping around a big pack. What views they were! The colors were still spectacular. I had it to myself on the first day and night, then...the place exploded. Not literally due to unexploded ordnance, but with people. I lost count after 30 backpackers on a 7 mile day hike loop from camp...on a Wednesday.
Everyone was very friendly, but I decided to hastily pack up camp and hiked down to the confluence of Big Stonecoal Creek and Red Creek. Found a nice camp and enjoyed some solitude for the night after a very social day.

Confluence. Red Creek on the right, Big Stonecoal left
2A4A0807.JPG


Red Creek is typically a shallow crossing this late in the season, but not on this day. Almost waist deep, glad I threw in water shoes.
IMG_8278.jpg


Parts of Big Stonecoal Trail were like a pack of Skittles
IMG_8280.jpg


Lots of campsites scattered thru the pines near Lions Head
IMG_8302.jpg


IMG_8304.jpg


Lions Head is an area of rocky outcrops with great views
2A4A0823.JPG


2A4A0837.JPG


2A4A0852.JPG


2A4A0873.JPG



The next day I connected some trails for a 7 mile loop...
IMG_8313.jpg


IMG_8330.jpg


2A4A0875.JPG


2A4A0877.JPG


Lunch break on Big Stonecoal Creek
2A4A0879.JPG


IMG_8334.jpg


I returned to Lions Head and packed up, hiking 2 miles to the confluence of Red and Big Stonecoal Creeks. Campsite for the second night didn't suck either.
2A4A0900.JPG


IMG_8341.jpg


Gotta catch the Milky Way early this late in the season here. This was taken at 9:30pm. Red Creek in the foreground.
2A4A0904.JPG


IMG_8326.jpg
 

Nethos

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2017
Messages
71
Wow. Shocking how high Red Creek was. I was there last month and an easy rockhop. Thanks for the photos. Nice to see it in fall colors. And yes, lots of people. I camped back in the hardwood at Lions Head to get a little solitude.

Sent from my Pixel 4a using Tapatalk
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518
Wow. Shocking how high Red Creek was. I was there last month and an easy rockhop. Thanks for the photos. Nice to see it in fall colors. And yes, lots of people. I camped back in the hardwood at Lions Head to get a little solitude.

Sent from my Pixel 4a using Tapatalk

It dropped half a foot for the hike out but yeah I was surprised. I feel very lucky to have had the entire Lions Head area to myself for a night.
 

McKee80

Member
.
Joined
Feb 9, 2017
Messages
204
Thanks for the report! That whole monongahela national forest is special.
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518
Thanks for the report! That whole monongahela national forest is special.
I'm finding that out! I've only whitewater kayaked in WV, now that self preservation mode has kicked in as I age it's time to explore on foot...
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518

hikeer

Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
18
Literally in my backyard! Lucky to live only a few miles from the Sods. Been absolutely crazy up there this summer and fall - it's a great area but not all that big so it can get kind of crowded feeling. Lions Head is a cool spot, I love walking through those tall pines on the way out to the viewpoint. Really nice pics too!
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518
Literally in my backyard! Lucky to live only a few miles from the Sods. Been absolutely crazy up there this summer and fall - it's a great area but not all that big so it can get kind of crowded feeling. Lions Head is a cool spot, I love walking through those tall pines on the way out to the viewpoint. Really nice pics too!
Hoping to explore the Roaring Plains area just to the south, and Seneca Creek/Spruce Knob next year. During the week! I can't imagine some of these places on a weekend.
 

wsp_scott

Member
.
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
772
Hoping to explore the Roaring Plains area just to the south, and Seneca Creek/Spruce Knob next year. During the week! I can't imagine some of these places on a weekend.

If you go to the Roaring Plains, time your visit for when the FR70 is gated at the bottom. The one time I was there (weekend) the road was open allowing people to drive to the top of the ridge => tons of dayhikers
 

HalfTread

HalfTread
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
11
Enjoyed viewing your photos and reading the posts! I need to get back to that awesome place sometime soon. We did a two overnight trip in 2019. The wind in the high elevation areas and the mud in the low elevation areas made that trip very memorable.

WV DSW 2019-101.jpeg


Note: the fellow backpacker who volunteered to take this group photo kinda' had shaky hands (discovered after uploading the photos later at home).
 
Last edited:

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518
If you go to the Roaring Plains, time your visit for when the FR70 is gated at the bottom. The one time I was there (weekend) the road was open allowing people to drive to the top of the ridge => tons of dayhikers

Noted! I avoid weekends, it seems to be harder to get away from the masses lately.
 

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
518
Enjoyed viewing your photos and reading the posts! I need to get back to that awesome place sometime soon. We did a two overnight trip in 2019. The wind in the high elevation areas and the mud in the low elevation areas made that trip very memorable.

View attachment 93381

Note: the fellow backpacker who volunteered to take this group photo kinda' had shaky hands (discovered after uploading the photos later at home).

I've got a similar pic! Yep, mud and wind...seems to be the norm up there. Worth it though!
 

HalfTread

HalfTread
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
11
Noted! I avoid weekends, it seems to be harder to get away from the masses lately.
Yep, we went from Thursday to Saturday. Friday evening is when the other groups were searching for campsites. We were already settled in on our site when the other groups were came down to visit us along the water. Heading out on Saturday morning there was an almost endless stream of hikers and numerous vehicles parked along the forest road when we reached the trail head. Definitely a weekday place to backpack if possible.
 
Last edited:
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
mak1277 Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpacking 5
wsp_scott Dolly Sods and kids again Backpacking 2
wsp_scott Dolly Sods spring Backpacking 9
wsp_scott Dolly Sods (WV) with my kids Backpacking 8
McKee80 Dolly Sods June 2017 Backpacking 6
Flaminghog2099 Dolly sods? Trip Planning 1
Mountain Wanderer A smoky trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Backpacking 2
Yvonne Zion Wilderness Permits and Canyoneering permits opened up again General Discussion 11
S Conejos - South San Juan Wilderness Backpacking 2
C High Uintas Wilderness - Last minute plans Trip Planning 4
NorthwestWanderer 6 Day Eagle Cap Wilderness Odyssey | Cross Country Travel | The Highlight Highway Loop Backpacking 6
Mountain Wanderer Cedar Lakes Loop in Montana's Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Backpacking 4
balzaccom Ansel Adams Wilderness--smoke and mirrors Backpacking 8
ergelo Trail conditions in Arc Dome Wilderness (NV) Trip Planning 2
McKee80 Roaring Plains West Wilderness Backpacking 8
Titans Pharaoh Lake Wilderness- some much needed Vitamin W Hiking & Camping 5
Mountain Wanderer High Uintas Wilderness - Granddaddy Basin Backpacking 4
Curt Visiting (Part of) the Lake District of Cloud Peak Wilderness Backpacking 15
Miya 2nd Solo - Trinity Alps Wilderness - Wildflower Madness! Backpacking 50
D Recommendations in the Gros Ventre and Washakie Wilderness Areas Trip Planning 10
NorthwestWanderer Overnight Backpack to Louis Lake, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Backpacking 4
kwc Wiliam C. Whitney Wilderness canoe camping (Adirondacks) On The Water 9
J Grenadier Range, San Juan Mtns. Weminuche Wilderness, CO June 27-30, 2007 Retro Backpacking 9
westy Fishhawk Creek, Washakie Wilderness Area Trip Planning 4
J Mount Nutt Wilderness Cave Spring Area dayhike Nov 26, 2019 Hiking & Camping 0
UtahBrian Sids Mountain Wilderness November 2019 Backpacking 5
J Havasu Wilderness and NWR, AZ. Nov 27, 2019 dayhike exploration Hiking & Camping 0
Mountain Wanderer First trip in to the Eagle Cap Wilderness Backpacking 10
Jackson A Fall Foray into the Teton Wilderness Backpacking 13
NorthwestWanderer Backpacking the John Muir Wilderness : Humphreys Basin Backpacking 3
scatman Whetstone Creek, Teton Wilderness - October 11-14, 2019 Backpacking 19
TeamJenkins17 Fox Park Patrol Cabin-Teton Wilderness Trip Planning 1
TeamJenkins17 Thorofare/Teton Wilderness Trip Trip Planning 12
Curt Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming Backpacking 16
TeamJenkins17 Teton Wilderness July 2019 Backpacking 4
wsp_scott Citico Creek Wilderness (TN) Backpacking 4
Eugene Rawah Wilderness Backpacking Trip Backpacking 0
fossana Ruby Crest Trail (Ruby Mountains Wilderness) Backpacking 7
Mikjik86 8 Days Backpacking Dark Canyon Wilderness Backpacking 1
fossana Browns Point > Summit > Whipple loop (Pine Valley Mountains Wilderness, UT) Hiking & Camping 1
NorthwestWanderer Backpacking the Pasayten Wilderness : Harts Pass, PCT, Windy Pass, Buffalo Pass, Foggy Pass, Jim Pass, Hulman Pass & Rock Pass Meadows Backpacking 3
N Wallowa Mountains and Seven Devils wilderness September Trip Planning 3
Mountain Wanderer First Trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Backpacking 2
TeamJenkins17 Teton Wilderness Trip Planning 3
Mikjik86 Short Video: Backpacking/Packrafting Dark Canyon Wilderness, Utah. April 2019 Backpacking 0
NorthwestWanderer 6 Day backpacking trip in Glacier Peak Wilderness (3 days of off trail route) Backpacking 9
TeamJenkins17 Teton Wilderness Trip Planning 6
misSOULa Six days in the Bob Marshall Wilderness: The Chinese Wall and White River Backpacking 15
Pianomover Marble Mountain Wilderness. Backpacking 3
NorthwestWanderer Overnighter in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness : Ingalls Pass and Lake Ingalls Backpacking 9

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top