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“A Unique Spot”

Dolly Sods Wilderness Area
Ranked #2 of 16 things to do in Elkins
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Located in the Monongahela National Forest, this 10,215-acre area is one of the few wilderness areas on the East Coast.
Reviewed March 18, 2014

Dolly Sods has no trees because it was deforested thru logging; then the humus caught on fire, leaving little soil to cover the ground. As a result, it is quite open, with only small trees, rocks and lots of blueberries in late summer, which brings bears.
It is a great place for star gazing, but there is little shade, so it can get warm in the summer. It is really worth going out of your way to see.

4  Thank SGJ1013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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138 - 142 of 202 reviews

Reviewed February 26, 2014

This is unique place, a geographical wonder. The flora is strange and foreign, reminiscent of Canada. Dolly Sods straddles the Eastern Continental Divide. The east side drains into the Atlantic Ocean watershed and the west side drains into the Gulf of Mexico.
This place is a geological wonder. And the wildflowers provide a beautiful distraction from fatigued legs.
Bear Rocks Trail often features a steady wind.
There's some boggy trail, big rocks to hop amongst, and a few stream crossings. The landscape changes and we're in dark and lovely woods carpeted with soft pine needles.
And suddenly we emerge into more big sky open meadows.
Why are you still reading this? GO!

3  Thank KiryC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2014

amazing view, easy access from Harmon's Cottages take your camera and enjoy nature I do think you need a 4wheel drive to go up. but it was worth it..

2  Thank Tab M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2014 via mobile

Before I start, if you plan on just riding down Forest Road 75 and think you are going to see anything, you are sadly mistaken. For those of you that love to hike and camp this is where you should go. Heres why:

1. The views. The overlook along Forest Road 75 are fantastic, but there is something about hiking on a plain and theres literally nothing, just you and the trees. Its a very different hiking experience than anywhere else on the east coast because of that.

2. The hiking is awesome, but wet in the spring, changeable in the summer, and bipolar in the fall. But if you are prepared for it the area has tremendous character and changes radically between the seasons. There are significant changes in the type of foliage that is predominant as you change in elevation, ranging from sods, to spruce and standard maple. Water flows out of the ground everywhere.

3. Camping- theres a pretty decent campground about 2 miles from bear rocks, with primitive restroom facilities. However the best campsites are out in the wilderness. The camping around red creek on the Bear rocks trail is particularly gorgeous, as the ground is soft and you are surrounded by giant spruce.

4. Purity of the night sky. Rare on the east coast, there is almost no light pollution. If you like stars or a place to see meteor showers this is the place for you. You literally cant see the hand in front of your face on some nights.

5. Summer weather. It almost never hits 90 degrees on the sods. Most of the summer its in the 70s to low 80s.

6. Animal life. It abounds if you know where to look. Something to take note. There are a lot of bears on the sods and even though I hike there a lot, I have yet to come across one. The only readon why I know is that last winter I hiked up in the snow, and near the parking area at bear rocks I came across numerous bear tracks.

7. Winter hiking. Its like hiking in northern canada at times. Pretty extreme, which is cool and dicferent.

It is ecspecially important to go to the sods prepared if you hike. This is why:

A. The area is huge, with miles and miles of trails, and due to the extreme winter weather, markings on trails get worn off, and signage gets blown down. Its pretty easy to get lost if you arent careful. Cell phones do not work up there, so make sure you have rations if you are doing a longer hike.

2. Be very prepared for the weather. Because its the edge of the allegheny front, weather systems can change greatly in a short period of time. For example, I did an 8 mile out and back. I left in 60 degree weather and returned in an inch of snow in a nightmare wind. Storms come up quickly. Be aware of weather conditions. If it looks like its changing, it probably is. Temperatures in dolly sods are frequently I the teens, but it can get a lot colder quickly.

Be careful, but its worth the care and effort you put into it. There is a reason why I return week after week. This place is amazing!

7  Thank booshkie1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2013

We hiked the north section of Dolly Sods October 19, and loved it. The area is really like nothing else in Virginia, but more like what you would see in Canada, or Scotland. In reading about Dolly Sods, I saw that it was classified as a sub arctic bog, but I have yet to understand how something in Virginia came to be classified as sub arctic.

The place is certainly popular enough—hardly room to park the car. We saw plenty of hikers and groups on Bear Rocks Trail. But after we got onto Rocky Ridge Trail, we were on our own. Great views, really amazing landscape. Even at this high point, the many rocks on the ridge were seated in water, and the heath was as damp as a wet sponge.

The directions were good, and the signage was better than I had expected. It can be a bit tricky to pick your way down the southern part of Rocky Ridge trail, as it is only rocks, and there really is no discernible path. There is the odd cairn here and there.

Red Spruce Grove was a fabulous campsite—large, sheltered, near water. My only complaint is that is very popular, and that in the hollow, sound carries *very* well. We thought another group had camped only a short distance away, but when I went to get water, I saw that they were actually at least twice the distance we had thought—yet we could here every word and laugh at their camp.

The next day, things got…interesting. We enjoyed hiking along Blackbird Trail and Upper Red Creek. We were prepared for boggy areas, with waterproof boots and gaiters. What we weren’t expecting was nearly a solid mile of trail that was bog.

I don’t know if forces of nature had conspired against us, or if it is typically like this. Hiking through boggy sections was at first run of the mill, then as they stretched out and got longer and wider, more difficult, and just plain annoying.

When we had covered more than a mile and still weren’t leaving them behind, they began to mar the enjoyment of what would otherwise have been a very pleasant hike. I am still wishing I had taken the turn at the Raven Ridge Trail, although I have no way of knowing whether this would have been better.

We met several hikers coming from the opposite direction who had given up on the trail. Some had their shoes off, and were in the process of draining. One fellow had gone into the bog up to his knee. All of them were turning around.

Disappointing as this section of the trail was to me personally, my greater concern was for the trail, and the landscape itself. Most hikers, when faced with a boggy section of trail, were going around. This meant that the trail was widened, and the natural landscape given way to numerous boots wishing to stay dry and mud free. I can’t help but think this will have a extremely negative impact on this section of Dolly Sods.

I really loved the hike in Dolly Sods, and would go back there again in a heartbeat.

4  Thank LauraRW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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