Raven Ridge - Blackbird Knob Loop Dolly Sods Wilderness, WV

See a Great White North south of the Mason-Dixon.
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See a Great White North south of the Mason-Dixon.

“It has a wild, untouched feel,” says Michael Juskelis of this 15-mile tour of Dolly Sods’s high, windswept plains. “It looks like you’re hiking in the Canadian Shield.” In fact, its recipe of elevation (4,000 feet), frequent harsh winds, bogs, stunted spruce, and snowshoe hare population mirrors the conditions found much farther north.

Day one From the parking lot just north of the Bear Rocks trailhead, cruise west 1.5 miles on an old doubletrack to the Raven Ridge Trail (crossing Dobbin Grade Trail and Red Creek on the way). Pass large boulders and small conifer stands dotting an open heath barren. From here, wind west along the wilderness area border to the Rocky Ridge Trail. Turn left and head one mile to an ideal rest spot at 4,430-foot Rocky Knob. Continue south on the ridge to a left onto the Harmon Trail. In another 1.5 miles, turn left onto the Black Bird Knob Trail and cross Red Creek. There you’ll find a copse of red spruce on the left, sheltering a handful of inviting campsites.

Day two Continue on the Black Bird Knob Trail, soon passing 3,960-foot Blackbird Knob and its open views east, and meeting the Red Creek Trail in just under a mile. Juskelis recommends ditching your pack here to head downstream one mile to a hip-deep swimming hole. Once back at the junction, hike east .3 mile to the Upper Red Creek Trail. Turn left and climb up and over a grassy hill, proceeding 1.2 miles to boggy Dobbin Grade Trail, where huckleberries and cranberries ripen in late summer and early autumn. Turn right to hike just over a mile, crossing flat, shrubby terrain as the trail veers north to views of the Canaan Valley’s verdant farmland. From here, rejoin the Bear Rocks Trail, turning right for a one-mile stroll back to the trailhead.

PLAN IT
Driving From Petersburg, take WV 42 12 miles north to Jordan Run Rd. Turn left and go five miles to FR 75. Turn right and head 4.7 miles to a parking area. The trailhead is 100 yards south.

Map and Guide Download a free map at midatlantichikes.com; Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide, by Allen DeHart and Bruce Sundquist ($18, wvhighlands.org)

Contact (304) 257-4488, fs.fed.us/r9/mnf