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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 4501 | TRs | Pics
Location: Pittsburgh
GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostSun Jun 19, 2016 12:49 pm 
June 18, 2016: Dolly Sods traverse

Route:
- Going out: Red Creek Trail > Blackbird Knob Trail > Upper Red Creek Trail > Dobbins Grade Trail > Beaver View Trail > Raven Ridge Trail
- Coming in: Rocky Ridge Trail > Blackbird Knob Trail > Big Stonecoal Trail > Rocky Point Trail > Lion's Head > Rocky Point Trail > Big Stonecoal Trail > Red Creek Trail

Stats:
- Distance: 22.5mi
- Elevation gain: ~3,550ft
- Hiking/photography time: 11hr 40min
- Total trip time (house-house): 19.5hrs

With summer almost upon us it was time to make a Dolly Sods visit. So what if I'd hiked all the trails on my loop in the past? The forecast was for a beautiful sunny day, and there would be plenty of daylight hours available to take my time and linger through the entire area.

I left Pittsburgh at 2:30am, already licking my chops at the opportunity to spend the entire day photographing and hiking. I got a bit of a surprise when I reached the Red Creek Trailhead: even though it was a little shy of 6:00am the parking lot was overflowing. I'd never seen so many people at a trailhead in West Virginia before. Pretty soon I realized that I had picked the day of the Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run, and that I would be combing ultramarathoners out of my hair in Upper Dolly Sods. (Thankfully, the ultras had to head up Flatrock/Roaring Plains first and by the time I met up with them they were well strung out and no real bother.)

A quiet start beside scenic Red Creek was the complete antithesis of the mob scene at the trailhead. Within the first 10min I was in another world, with only the beautiful stream and lush green forest for company. The creeks and dense forest are the defining features of the lower Dolly Sods region. The lonesome hiking continued until I reached the first crossing of Red Creek. Numerous backpackers were camped here, as expected, but it remained quiet and serene. I made the short side trip to Red Creek Falls first, before embarking on the ford of Red Creek.

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The sun dappled forest was really beautiful. After a rock hopped crossing of Red Creek at the Forks there was a particularly beautiful spot, which was quite magical. June is a fantastic time for Dolly Sods' mountain laurel display. From this point onwards a sustained showing would entertain me throughout my upper Dolly Sods ramblings.

9- Magic spot
9- Magic spot
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After the Forks a short climb took me out of lower Dolly Sods, to deposit me in upper Dolly Sods. I feasted on the dramatically open terrain and views galore. Upon hitting Raven Ridge I began to run into the ultras I had conveniently forgotten all about. However, it was such a gorgeous day and they were strung out enough that it wasn't an issue at all.

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12- GaliWalker, checking out his next move
12- GaliWalker, checking out his next move
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14- Ultras

The 3mi long Rocky Ridge section is one of my favorites in Dolly Sods. Interesting rock formations, sustained views and a mountain laurel extravaganza kept the enjoyment level in overdrive.

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On the return via the Big Stonecoal Trail, I was pleased to see that despite taking my time and not letting my photography take much of a back seat to the hiking, I still had enough left in the tank (both time and energy level wise) to tuck in the 1.6mi side trip to Lion's Head, for one final set of views.

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After Lion's Head, it was a steep descent alongside Stonecoal Run, a final crossing of Red Creek, and then a level walk back to the car. What a magnificent day!

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani
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wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 9275 | TRs | Pics
Location: Wenatchee
wildernessed
viewbagger
PostSun Jun 19, 2016 4:46 pm 
up.gif

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Living in the Anthropocene
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6951 | TRs | Pics
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostSun Jun 19, 2016 5:21 pm 
Thanks for stirring up memories of a great family vacation in the Canaan Valley. Dolly Sods is the only wilderness area I've been in where there are signs warning about unexploded military munitions  eek.gif

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 4501 | TRs | Pics
Location: Pittsburgh
GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostMon Jun 20, 2016 5:36 pm 
I saw something once, although I can't remember if it was a old shell or something else... Going off trail there (which I've done once) is a bit nerve wracking. paranoid.gif

A few more photos from the day:

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--------------
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani
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lanzscape
Member
Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 74 | TRs | Pics
Location: youngstown, ohio
lanzscape
Member
PostTue Jun 21, 2016 6:38 am 
Thanks for posting this trip report, Gali, and the excellent photos. I was down there (from Youngstown) the previous weekend, hiking in and camping for two nights down at the Red Creek confluence. We day hiked all day Sat and hit some of these same trails, including the sidetrip up Lion's Head. We were about a week early for the mtn laurel, so I'd guess you hit it about right?  Dolly Sods has such an amazing diversity of terrain and flora.  Just wish it was a little closer and not so difficult to get to. If so, I'd be there a lot instead of the once a year I average. Of course, so would a lot of other people, and it gets pretty crowded as is.

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