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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Our Backyard: Dolly Sods Wilderness

See the wild side of West Virginia's best backcountry.

by: Christopher Keene


5. Best Campsite
The readers’ choice: a hidden tent site overlooking the Red Creek watershed and across to Breathed Mountain and Coal Knob. Hike to it: Go 2.6 miles up the Rohrbaugh Trail.

6. Best waterfall
The Sods’ busiest trail traces the banks of Red Creek—and shuffles hikers right past this off-trail secret. Johnson sneaks downstream .25 mile from The Forks (5.4 miles from SR 45), to the third set of falls, which overhang rock terraces. “You can walk underneath the cascade,” he says.

7. Coolest plant
The Drosera rotundifolia, aka the common sundew, ensnares insects by secreting sweet-but-sticky mucilage on moving follicles. Find tiny sundew trailside along beaver bogs on the Dobbin Grade Trail, three miles from the junction with the Bear Rocks Trail.

8. Best backpack
Circle the Sods on this
three-day, 24-mile grand tour. “You’ll pass giant boulders, open glades, and cross deep ravines,” says Johnson (below). Trail sequence: Bear Rocks, Raven Ridge, Rocky Ridge, Blackbird Knob, Big Stonecoal, Dunkenburger, Little Stonecoal, Red Creek, Dobbin Grade, and back to Bear Rocks.

9. History lesson
From the Raven Ridge or Bear Rocks Trails, scan the plains in any direction to spot craters made when the military used this area for artillery training during World War II. Trail signs warn of unexploded shells out there. Be careful off-trail.

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