Dolly Sods is the highest elevation plateau east of the Mississippi River located along the Allegheny Front in West Virginia. Hosting some of the most spectacular scenery in the Mountain State, Dolly Sods is encompassed within the Monongahela National Forest and features a bountiful assortment of natural treasures. Northern hardwood forests and thick spruce plantings. Open glades, featuring bogs and miles of low-rise blueberry, mountain laurel and azalea. Steep canyons carved by a boulder-filled Red Creek. Rocky vistas that open up to the deep valleys below.
This breathtaking scenery is remarkable for the perils that plagued Dolly Sods not that long ago. Once prized for its old-growth timber, the region was extensively logged in the early 20th century. Repeat wildfires caused by sparks from passing logging trains left the soil depleted of any nutrients and depth. In addition, poor drainage led to little growth of native vegetation. To cap it off, during World War II, Dolly Sods was used as a bombing range.
In only a brief time, Dolly Sods has made a remarkable return. While the towering forests have not returned sans in the lower elevations and on the slopes of hills, they have been replaced by a stunning assortment of low-reaching flora that is more likely to be found in Canada and the extreme northern reaches of the United States. Flowering mountain laurel lines the trails and the vistas; blueberry and other edible bushes grace the wind-swept plains; and the scattering of leaning, stunted pines give clue that the area features adverse weather conditions on a daily basis. Winds frequently gust over 20 MPH across Dolly Sods, and temperatures can be over ten-degrees lower than the surrounding valleys. Snow is not unheard of at the peak, even in the dead of summer.
Over 40 miles of trails meander through Dolly Sods and the adjoining Roaring Plains. The southern half of Dolly Sods features steep gradients and a wide, boulder-strewn Red Creek, lined with towering second-growth forests and small pockets of bogs, while the northern half — encompassing the Dolly Sods Wilderness, is much more flat and exposed.
A featured hike is the 6.5 mile loop of the northern half of Dolly Sods, which offers spectacular views from Bear Rocks, a hike to the top of a knob and through the Dobblin Grade and across Red Creek. A shorter loop of 3.4 miles offers great views of the Red Creek valley and of Bear Rocks.
There is one primitive campground at Dolly Sods. Camping along the trails is allowed.
Red Creek Campground
The Red Creek Campground is a primitive, small campground that is on the Allegheny Plateau along Forest Road 75. The campground sites are on a first-come first-serve basis. From Petersburg, W.Va., travel south on WV 28 and 55 to WV County Route 4 (Jordan Run Road). Follow County Route 4 for one mile and turn left onto Forest Road 19. Follow Forest Road 19 for six miles up the mountain and turn right onto Forest Road 75. Follow Forest Road 75 for seven miles to the campground, which is on the left.
From Davis, follow WV 32 south to the junction of County Route 45/Jennkingston-Lanesville Road, 11.3 miles. Bear left and follow for 5.7 miles until Red Creek is crossed. The route becomes Forest Road 19. Dolly Sods begins at this juncture. Following Forest Road 19 to the top of the mountain, follow Forest Road 75 north to access Bear Rocks.
From Petersburg, follow WV 28/55 west for 10 miles and turn right at County Route 28/7 /Jordan Run Road. Follow for 1 mile and turn left at Forest Road 19. Take the route to the top of the mountain. Alternatively, follow County Route 28/7 for 6.8 miles and turn left at Forest Road 75, which leads directly to Bear Rocks.
The forest routes are gravel and dirt, and may be inaccessible during periods of west weather. Forest Road 75 is closed in the winter.