After meeting up we will drive the 4.5 to 5 hours to the Sods. Upon our arrival we will park at Bear Rocks and hike 1.02 miles along the Bear Rocks Trail (522) till it crosses Red Creek where we will make camp for the night.
Saturday we will head west on the Bear Rocks Trail (522) to the Raven Ridge Trail (521) to the Rocky ridge Trail (524) and finally to the Black Bird Knob Trail (511). We will camp Saturday night where the Black Bird Knob Trail (511) crosses the Left Fork of Red Creek. (8.7 miles)
Sunday we will continue on Black Bird Knob Trail (511) to the Upper Red Creek Trail (509) to Dobbin Grade (526) then back to Bear Rocks Trail (522) back to our cars for the drive home. (5.25 miles)
This is a moderate 15 mile backpack through the scenic Dolly Sods North. You’ll walk through areas of breath-taking beauty. The entire trek is one big photo op. There are some deciduous forest along the way but you’ll spend most of your time walking through heath bogs on Dobbin Grade, grassy plains sprinkled with Spruce groves along Raven Ridge and the rocky, tundra-like ridge of Cabin Mountain. There will be views in every direction. Although there are suitable campsites throughout the area this description has you camping in a Red Spruce grove along the Left Fork of Red Creek.
There are some wet spots, especially along Dobbin Grade so have some dry footwear waiting for you back at the car. Also remember that mountain top weather can change with a wink of an eye and in many instances you might be totally exposed to the elements so pack accordingly.
Dolly Sods is well known for its often extreme and mercurial climate. Sun, rain, snow, and fog are all possible within an hour. Cool, wet weather prevails throughout the year. Although summer temperatures can reach the 80s or higher, frost is possible at any time of the year in higher elevations (above 4,000 feet) and winter temperatures can dip below zero. Yearly precipitation is more than 55 inches. Precipitation is heavy because rising air masses cool as they hit the higher mountains and deposit moisture. Snowfall is impressive and may reach 150 inches in a year. This heavy snow breaks down trees and shrubs. Heavy glazes of ice and deposits of rime frost also break down trees and shrubs, giving them their characteristic forms and gnarled appearance. Prevailing winds are from the west and blow almost constantly. The effect of these winds can be seen in the flag-form red spruce trees; their branches grow on one side, away from the wind. Frost and snow effects also contribute to the flag-form shape of the trees. Because of the drying influence of the wind, no branches are produced on the west side of the tree above the protective shrub layer. Stunted branches on the east side give the trees a twisted appearance. Where spruce are protected by a shrub layer, luxuriant webs of branches extend for a radius of a dozen feet, giving a mat-like look to vegetation.
The explosive collision of air masses attendant upon the Allegheny Front dumps many tons of snow on Dolly Sods each winter. During the winter of 2003, 290 inches (7.3 m) of snow fell in the area. Humid and warmer air from the Potomac River Valley to the east and south meets colder Canadian air blowing off the Great Lakes. This churns and produces the locally severe weather that can sometimes rival that of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
This section of the Allegheny Front is one of the windiest spots east of the Mississippi, a fact responsible for the wind farming that is now so highly visible just north of Bear Rocks. Wind recorders in the Wilderness have been known to blow away in the gusts that can exceed 100 miles per hour. Just to the west in Canaan Valley, temperatures of 40° F below zero have been recorded.
I have encountered snow here before the first week of October and others I know have also, most recent 3 years ago, 2' fell.