November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
New Wilderness! Dolly Sods North & Roaring Plains West
Display Avatars Sort By:
Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
New Wilderness! Dolly Sods North & Roaring Plains West on 09/01/2009 21:14:27 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

New Wilderness! Dolly Sods North & Roaring Plains West

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Mortars on 09/01/2009 21:36:01 MDT Print View

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.

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Great place for hiking with kids... on 09/02/2009 06:04:13 MDT Print View

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...

June 2007

Fall 2007

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.

Edited by tlbj6142 on 09/02/2009 10:18:34 MDT.

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Asked and answered... on 09/02/2009 09:32:16 MDT Print View

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"

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Asked and answered... on 09/02/2009 10:49:59 MDT Print View

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.

Kyle Hetzer
(Ghost93) - F

Locale: Western MD
To MNF from the greater DC area. on 09/02/2009 12:15:33 MDT Print View

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.

Edited by Ghost93 on 09/02/2009 12:17:41 MDT.

David Stapleton
(KamperDave) - F

Locale: VA, DC, MD
Re: To MNF from the greater DC area. on 09/02/2009 12:20:04 MDT Print View

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!

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F

Locale: Blue Ridge
better directions? on 09/02/2009 14:36:11 MDT Print View

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.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F

Locale: Blue Ridge
Nice! on 09/02/2009 14:36:48 MDT Print View

Nice article & pics Devin!

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Nice! on 09/02/2009 18:14:26 MDT Print View

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...

Patricia Combee
(Trailfrog) - F

Locale: Northeast/Southeast your call
RE: DSN and Roaring Plains Wilderness on 09/02/2009 18:14:43 MDT Print View

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.

Tele Bruce
(TeleBruce) - F
Great place to go for 30 years on 09/02/2009 18:40:57 MDT Print View

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.

David Johnston
(dsjtecserv) - MLife
Great article! on 09/02/2009 19:23:13 MDT Print View

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!


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Dolly Sods on 09/02/2009 20:02:32 MDT Print View

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.

Edited by Cameron on 09/02/2009 20:03:23 MDT.

WV Hiker

Locale: West Virginia
Ordnance Survey on 09/03/2009 13:45:25 MDT Print View

The following link gives full details surrounding ordnance at Dolly Sods:

I've bushwhacked all over the place up there. No problemos.

christopher shive

Locale: Along the AT in PA
Re: New Wilderness! Dolly Sods North & Roaring Plains West on 09/03/2009 14:42:15 MDT Print View

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 pics

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: New Wilderness! Dolly Sods North & Roaring Plains West on 09/03/2009 16:07:22 MDT Print View

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?

WV Hiker

Locale: West Virginia
Skeeters? on 09/04/2009 07:15:16 MDT Print View


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.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Dolly Sods on 09/04/2009 17:41:58 MDT Print View

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 ( 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, 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!

Edited by rswanson on 09/04/2009 17:48:03 MDT.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Dolly Sods Loop on 04/24/2010 08:59:32 MDT Print View

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?)


Edited by ChrisMorgan on 04/24/2010 09:04:06 MDT.