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The Dolly Sods Wilderness of the Monongahela has Nearly Everything!

Make this loop in the renowned Dolly Sods Wilderness. This slice of the Monongahela has nearly everything: rocky vistas, open glades resembling the western United States, thick spruce, northern hardwood forests and a deep canyon cut by Red Creek.

Dolly Sods Wilderness
Dolly Sods Wilderness

On this loop, walk some high country and camp up high by a great lookout, then swing west over Breathed Mountain, and drop in the Red Creek Canyon.

Your final day climbs back up. During World War II, Dolly Sods was a bombing range, and there are still shells lying around. If you see one, do not touch it! Mark the area, make a map, and report it to a ranger station. Chances are, however, you won't see one.

Dolly Sods
Dolly Sods Wilderness


There are some forty seven miles of hiking trials within the Dolly Sods Wilderness, many situated along the courses of abandoned railroad grades and logging roads. The premier viewpoint within the Wilderness, affording a vista of the entire Red Creek drainage, is at a set of rocky crags known as Lion's Head Rock. It is reached by an almost three mile climb from the nearest road.

Lion's Head Rock
Lion's Head Rock, Dolly Sods Wilderness

The last quarter mile is an eight foot wide bench (an old railroad grade) in the side of an otherwise steep slope. Like the cliffs constituting the eastern edge of the Sods at Rohrbaugh Plains, Lion's Head Rock consists of a mixture of sandstone and conglomerate. The Northland Loop Trail is a 0.3 mile interpretive trail just south of Red Creek Campground on FS Rt 75 which accesses Alder Run Bog, a typical, and much studied, "northern bog" or "southern muskeg".

Dolly Sods

The Dolly Sods Wilderness (originally simply Dolly Sods) is a U.S. Wilderness Area in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA, and is part of the Monongahela National Forest (MNF) of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

The Allegheny Mountains
The Allegheny Mountains, Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods is a rocky, high altitude plateau with sweeping vistas and lifeforms normally found much farther north in Canada. The distinctive landscape of "the Sods" is characterized by stunted trees, wind carved boulders, heath barrens, grassy meadows created in the last century by logging and fires, and sphagnum bogs that are much older.

The Sods
The Sods, Dolly Sods Wilderness

The name derives from an 18th century German homesteading family (the Dahles) and a local term for an open mountaintop meadow - a "sods".

A "Sods"
A Sods, Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods is the highest plateau of its type east of the Mississippi River with altitude ranging from around 4,000 feet (1,200 m) at the top of a mountain ridge on the Allegheny Front to about 2,700 feet (820 m) at the outlet of Red Creek. Prominent summits within the Wilderness are Coal Knob, Breathed Mountain and Blackbird Knob (3,960 feet).

Blackbird Knob Trail
Blackbird Knob Trail, Dolly Sods Wilderness

The highest point in the immediate area, just outside the Dolly Sods Wilderness area in the Roaring Plains West Wilderness, is Mount Porte Crayon at 4,770 feet (1,454 m). In the Canaan Valley to the west, the Wilderness is adjoined by the 16,000 acre (65 sq km) Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Deer In The Canaan Valley
Deer In The Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods Wilderness

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