Sep 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm #1239003
Companion forum thread to:Sep 1, 2009 at 8:36 pm #1524435
Any word on if there are live mortars in the new sections?
I know most have been cleared from the areas near trails in Dolly Sods. It will be interesting to see if there are any new "finds" in the new sections.Sep 2, 2009 at 5:04 am #1524495
Dolly Sods (primarily DSN) is a great place to hike with children. Campsites are available every 3-5 miles (if not more often), water is everywhere to play in and the open areas make it easy for them to explore and still be seen. I've taken my kids there several times. They love it. If you plan to arrive late the first night you can camp at the Forest Service CG that is along the eastern boundary of DS located right at the trail head of Blackbird Knob trail. Or camp at the nearby State park CG. We stayed at the latter on our most recent visit as Dolly Sods was closed due to a SAR incident. I would be willing to bet that large pot was from hunters. DS, and in particular DSN, is easy to access by truck if you know which dirt roads to take. Making it very easy for hunters to drag in (and out) lots of gear. I'd avoid the area during deer gun season. FWIW, we have seen black bear, turkey and deer (of course) in DS.
I've shared these before, but here are a few photos from our family trips to DS…
Been to Cranberry Wilderness as well (without my children), it is a great place, though more wooded than DS. I've read it is a prime location for fly fishing for those looking for a place to tryout your new Tenkara rods. And I ran into far more black bear in the area (it is, or is nearby, a protected black bear sanctuary).
So, is Dolly Sods North now "wilderness"?
I have to check out Roaring plans on my next visit.Sep 2, 2009 at 8:32 am #1524531
I'll answer my own question now that I have more carefully read the above article…
"As I hiked across the boundary of the existing wilderness and into the new expansion, an area known as Dolly Sods North"Sep 2, 2009 at 9:49 am #1524551
How far a drive is this from Manassas VA?
We haven't done any thing in the "Mon" yet. This sounds like a good excuse to get out there.Sep 2, 2009 at 11:15 am #1524570
@ghost93Locale: Western MD
I would say your best bet is to go on I 66 to I 81. Take I81 S to Harrisonburg to US 33. Take US 33 all the way to a town called Harmen. Make a right onto Rte 32 toward the small small town of Dry Fork (unincorperated). Make a right onto Bonner Mtn. Road, Or as my topo map software says, CR 32 /2. (There will be a sign off Rte 32 to Dolly Sods). Take Bonner Mtn. Road all the way to Laneville RD. The Red Creek Trail Head is located just after Laneville Rd crosses red creek. The are a few cabins, turn into what fist may appear as a drive way and back to the trail head a few hundred feet. As a disclamier, look and take a map with you.
So is it my understanding that what was once the Dolly Sods national Senic Area is now a part of the Wilderness Area, sweet. Now to explore Roaring Plains and the Allegheny Trail.Sep 2, 2009 at 11:20 am #1524571
@kamperdaveLocale: VA, DC, MD
I live in Woodbridge, VA and it took just over 3 hours to make it out to Dolly Sods. It's amazing how similar my pictures are to those here. Of course, we were there in March and it was about 20 degrees and snowing as well. Quite an exciting place!Sep 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm #1524606
@trtlrockLocale: Blue Ridge
these directions are better IMHO…
I was there last week for 6 days.
66W to 81S to 55W through Wardensville, keep following 55W onto the new lightspeed Byrd thruway (still 55W), continue on 55W when thruway ends through Moorefield & Petersburg, pass through Cabins, take a R at Dolly Sods sign a few miles later, then a left onto Dolly Sods access road a mile or so later.
Six miles up gravel access road at constant climb, looking vigilantly for potholes & pointy rocks, often through washboard areas, at about 22 mph. Then you're at the top. Turn R for about 5 miles at same speeds on flat gravel road to get to Red Creek & DS North, or turn L a couple of miles to get to Roaring Plains & Laneville.
Two hours 15 minutes at speed-limit +5 mph from my driveway in Linden, VA (near Front Royal) to the trailhead at Red Creek Campground.Sep 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm #1524607
@trtlrockLocale: Blue Ridge
Nice article & pics Devin!Sep 2, 2009 at 5:14 pm #1524655
Thanks all! I know that Dolly Sods is favorite destination for many in the area, and I was excited when more of it was protected. I think that combining the Sods and the Plains in a loop as I did makes for a phenomenal trip.
To answer a couple specific questions:
Mortars – It's my understanding that the munition sweeps that have been done in Dolly Sods covered the North Sods as well. At least I hope they did!
Dolly Sods Scenic Area – I believe this area is still distinct from the wilderness. Dolly Sods North is the area that has been integrated. Let me see if I can find more…Sep 2, 2009 at 5:14 pm #1524656
@trailfrogLocale: Northeast/Southeast your call
It is about time to see these areas protected for all.
My hiking partners and I did a nice circuit in the Roaring plains area including the new wilderness (with a totally butt kicking bushwack to the top of Mt. Porte Crayon – new knowledge: Red spruce trees "bite").
I cut my backpacking teeth and honed them to a sharp edge in the Dolly Sods (south) wilderness and the Dolly Sods North area. Hard to believe you are still in the east when hiking in the north area. I hiked these areas before they became well known and well signed. Some folks think since this area is not far from civilization that it won't bite and that accounts for quite a few Search and Rescues. I have seen a nice day turn into dense, disorienting fog in a matter of minutes; and had thunderstorms literally form right overhead.
If I haven't mentioned it yet, I love this place and am very happy to see the wilderness designation.Sep 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm #1524658
I've been hiking this area since the late '70's. Very well worth the trip, and was glad to hear that DS north and a small part of Roaring Plains has been added to the mix.
Its a heavily used area. You'll see full parking lots on nice weather days, but don't underestimate it either. I spent the weekend before Labor Day and saw a total of 4 people on a short overnighter. It was great. Go mid week. Go well prepared, as the weather can be very 'interesting' when fronts move through. Expect tons of mud. Low cut cutie ultralight hiking slippers won't make it here. And please do use the already established camp sites. there are too many places getting trashed by people who insist on making their 'own' site with no knowledge of how to do so with no impact.
Take your time – its a remarkable place. One I've treasured for 30 years.Sep 2, 2009 at 6:23 pm #1524665
Great article and great pictures, Devin. This has been my "go to" place for several years, and I never tire of its variety and the different looks that the variety of weather and seasons can give. I hope you have a chance to go back.
When you do, in Dolly Sods North I'd recommend a trip down the Beaver View Trail. This follows a ridge that projects in between the headwaters of the Left and Right Forks of Red Creek, and give great views into the broad drainages, as well as to the back of Rocky Ridge. Large parts of this ridge are exposed and especially exciting during bad weather.
In Roaring Plains, do follow the "hidden passage" through rhododendrons to the edge of the ridge overlooking Roaring Creek and Long Run Canyons. This is a semi-documented route and not an official trail but it only requires a little bit of route finding. You can follow the rim all the way around, past Porte Crayon to Haystack on the opposite side of Long Run Canyon. Although it is surrounded by private property and there is no water, a night on top of Haystack is special.
Winter is a great time to go. Being over 4000 feet and at the junction of weather zones, it gets a lot of snow, very high winds, and bitter temperatures. I have used it for the last couple of years for a warmup for winter climbs of Mount Washington and the Adirondacks.
As TeleBruce pointed out, the Dolly Sods area can seem overrun at times. Avoid obvious holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, and go on weekdays if possible. Consider the offseason like late fall and winter. If you go in November, wear orange, for sure!
DaveSep 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm #1524673
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Very nice article. You make me want to get out again. I'm not an expert but my understanding was that trail and campsites had been swept for morters but that bushwacking was discouraged. I don't know about the new areas but I would assume the trails are okay.
LukeSep 3, 2009 at 12:45 pm #1524832
@vdealLocale: West Virginia
The following link gives full details surrounding ordnance at Dolly Sods:
I've bushwhacked all over the place up there. No problemos.Sep 3, 2009 at 1:42 pm #1524854
@cms432Locale: Along the AT in PA
I just did a trek through the Dolly Sods in June with our scout troop. What a beautiful area. We were really lucky to have great weather all week. I think the fog/rain/wind shown in your pictures is the norm however.
Link to my trip report with lots of picsSep 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm #1524879
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
Thanks for the article – I enjoyed the pics also. Being an easterner transplanted to the West, I enjoy the reminder of these beautiful places that have a seemingly more antiquarian personality, if you will, than many of the more geologically youthful places out yonder this direction.
Now I'd like to see an article on the Red River Gorge or Sheltowee Trace.
By the way, how are the 'skeeters (and other beasties) in them thar woods and when is the best time of year to avoid them in the DSN area?Sep 4, 2009 at 6:15 am #1525016
@vdealLocale: West Virginia
Mosquitoes are not really much of a problem in WV. I've never had much problem with them. We do have some no-see-ims and some biting flies but insects in general are just not a major issue here. Also, DSN and Roaring Plains are high windswept plateaus and that helps keep the bugs at bay.Sep 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm #1525144
I get out to Dolly Sods and/or Roaring Plains several times a year. In my opinion, it is the best hiking locale north of the Smokies and south of the Whites.
The Mon in general is superb. It's also huge. As the article author pointed out, its almost 1,000,00 acres in total and hosts over 800 miles of trails, including part of the American Discovery Trail. If you're a hiking enthusiast and within reasonable driving distance of eastern WV, do yourself a favor and plan a trip to some part of the Mon.
The West Virginia Highland Conservancy (www.wvhighlands.org) prints a regularly updated guide to the entire forest and makes it available on CD as well. It contains detailed trail descriptions of almost every area of MNF, including maps. Their website also has lots of additional visitor info and news.
Another awesome resource for hikes in MNF (and all over MD, PA, WV, and VA) is http://www.midatlantichikes.com, run by Mike Juskelis. He has dozens of hikes mapped out in the Mon, all with detailed info and most with GPS coordinates, including almost every trail in Dolly Sods and Roaring Plains.
Just a word of advice- despite the elevation of 4K and under, the Dolly Sods/Roaring Plains area can experience very harsh weather. Last year, an area ski resort reported over 18 feet of snow. Winter comes in early and is reluctant to leave. I can be cold, wet, and very windy on any day of the year, so prepare like you'd be hiking at 10K elevation.
As for mortar shells, well even though its disconcerting to rock hop across a talus field right up to a sign denoting the potential of live ordnance, the area has been swept and swept again. To my knowledge, the only are affected (and the only place where the signs exist) is the extreme northwestern corner of Dolly Sods North. I wouldn't be any more concerned about that than I would a bear attack- even less so in fact.
Oh, and if you hike Dolly Sods, your feet will get wet. Great place to test those fast drying trail runners!Apr 24, 2010 at 7:59 am #1601523
Could anyone comment as to a favorite 25-35 mile loop in Dolly Sods, in the new or old sections?
(Devin, I'm guessing cutting this loop down might be an option, but where to cut?)
ChrisApr 24, 2010 at 8:41 am #1601532
Hi Chris! How's the law school hunt going?
If you had to, absolutely had to, cut something out, I would probably suggest just hiking a loop through the Sods. Here's a good map and info: http://www.midatlantichikes.com/dst.htm.
I have to say, though, that this loop was a nearly perfect hike, with the exception of my choice not to go off-trail in the Roaring Plains. It starts out in dense forest, you hike up alongside a rushing stream and then emerge into the open north Sods. You then hike back down through the Sods and on to the ridge of the Roaring Plains. If take the off-trail route, it should give even better views in that section than I had.
But if you have to cut, hit the Sods, especially the north Sods. They're the most impressive.Apr 24, 2010 at 10:50 am #1601558
That sounds good. I'd push the whole loop but will likely be restricted by time and the people I'm going with.
Thanks for getting back to me so fast (during finals no less? I guess 3Ls don't worry about finals :) Still deciding between Rutgers and Lewis and Clark (aka cheap v. Oregon – a tough decision when I could potentially be seeing this sign every day:Apr 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm #1601619
I just teared up a bit. That is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I say go to L&C. I don't remember if you'd chosen a focus or not, put I presume you know they're tops in enviro law.
I'm actually finishing up the business school portion of my dual degree, so I just finished finals!
Enjoy the loop, even just hitting the Sods is a fantastic trip. My sister and I are definitely doing the SHR in July.
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