Rohrbaugh Plains/Dolly Sods Shuttle

 

U-Tube Video by Blaine Martin

Description: This is a 10 mile moderate shuttle hike through some of the best that Dolly Sods has to offer: a mixture of deciduous and evergreen forests, a breathtaking view of Red Creek Valley, open meadows and heath bogs, thickets of wild flowers, swimming holes, Rhododendron and ferns and waterfalls. There are 5 water crossings. One Red Creek crossing is quite wide and can be deep at times. Here's a photo. Water levels can be at the boot tops to butt high depending on the season and the latest heavy precipitation.Since this is probably the widest part of Red Creek the overall velocity of the water is greatly reduced and will be lower than at other narrower parts of the creek.

 

The hike starts across FR19 from the Dolly Sods Picnic Area.

 

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Printable/Downloadable Map

Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map!

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users

 

Trail Notes: Because of itís wilderness designation all trail signs had been removed but in recent years the forest service realized that less damage was done to this fragile area when the trail intersections were posted. The signs have returned. Still take care as signs are often destroyed by bears, hunters and deer in rut. Some intersections are also marked by cairns.

 

Starting at the parking area cross the forest road and look for a narrow footpath in the trees. A few yard into the woods youíll see a forest kiosk. This is the Rohrbaugh Plains trailhead. First climb and then descend a small hill. Cross an old woods road at 0.49 miles. Youíll cross a couple of small part-time streams and pass through a beautiful fern meadow. Little side trails will go off in every direction but the main trail should be pretty obvious.

 

Come to ďThe Un-named VistaĒ 1.55 miles from the woods road. The only other vista that is this good in the area, the Lionís Head, can be seen on the other side. There is a great camping spot nestled in the Rhododendron here and a spring a couple of yards further north on the trail.

 

The footpath will turn into an old woods road as it enters a hardwood forest. At 0.75 miles from the overlook watch for cairns and a sign on the left marking a footpath that leaves the woods road at a pretty sharp angle. Itís easy to walk by regardless of the sign and cairns. This is the continuation of the Rohrbaugh Plains Trail. The woods road becomes the Wildlife Trail (Shown as the Nature Trail on my map). Take the Rohrbaugh Plains Trail. This will soon become a rocky rail road grade. The Rohrbaugh Plains Trail ends at the junction with the Fisher Spring Run Trail in 0.37 miles. The way back up to FR75 is marked with 2 large cairns on the right. You want to go straight (left) and away from the cairns.

 

Fisher Spring Run Trail will descend a bit and then switchback sharply, crossing Fisher Spring Run and ending at Red Creek Trail in 0.93 miles from the last trail junction. (Just before coming to Red Creek Tr there is an unmarked trail on the right that descends to a railroad grade that follows Red creek with several good camping spots. Explore it if you wish. Going upstream on the grade takes you to Fisher Spring Runís

confluence with Red Creek. A nice water fall further upstream can be seen from here. Going down stream takes you past the lunch spot waterfall and more good camp sites, finally arriving at the Red Creek ford youíll use after lunch.) If you did not partake in the above adventure turn right onto Red Creek Trail at that junction and descend to the creek.

 

Turn up stream on one of a couple of unmarked paths and find your way to the railroad grade that follows the creek. In less than 0.25 miles arrive at the lunch spot waterfalls. This falls can range in ferocity from a mere trickle to a rapid on a #1 kayak run. (See photos linked to other Dolly Sods hikes described on this site.)

 

After lunch and a refreshing dip/soak return to the ford (at a 3 foot tall narrow stump and usually marked with cairns) and cross Red Creek. Itís usually best to cross on a slight downstream angle with a large rock and sandy beach on the opposite shore as points of reference.

 

The next part is probably the hardest. After the ford turn right onto the continuation of Red Creek Trail. Climb up the side of Breathed Mountain for 0.5 miles to a railroad grade. Rocky Point Trail comes in from the left. Note that several small logs are laid across the continuation of the rail road grade. Do not turn that way. Instead cross the grade and, following cairns, climb another 100-200 yards or so to another railroad grade. This was the steepest climb of the outing! There is more uphill towards the end but it is more gradual.

 

In 1.49 miles from the Rocky Point Trail pass Breathed Mountain Trail on the left and soon arrive at the Forks of Red Creek. Iím sure the falls, swimming hole and scenery will be quite compelling. Take a break and explore this wonderful area. Once youíre ready to travel again, cross the left fork of Red Creek. The trail will follow the north bank a few yards upstream before turning right and climbing up to an open meadow and the scenery that Dolly Sods has become famous for: open grassy meadows, dispersed clumps of Red Spruce taking back the land, Blue Berry and Huckleberry bogs and St. Johnís Wort thickets.

 

Near the crest of the hill re-enter the woods and in 0.93 miles from ďthe ForksĒ arrive at the junction of Black Bird Knob Trail. Turn right here and in about 0.42 miles pass newly signed Upper Red Creek Trail on the left. Descend to and cross Red Creek at the island. Youíll cross another stream and weave in and out of Red Spruce forest and open tundra-like plains with azalea, berry bushes, wild flowers and exposed rock; scenery more common in the Canada Shield. Take note that parts of the trail along this last stretch can be quite muddy and nearly impossible to avoid. Attempts to fill in the wet areas with rocks and logs have proved fruitless. The mud is so relentless. We refer to it as Dolly Sods Peas Soup! Thankfully this mess soon gives way to a boardwalk that soon delivers you to your awaiting vehicles!

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique this outing!

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Name: Tristan (Adirondackiteer)                                                                           Hike: Dolly Sods Wilderness Via Rohrbaugh
Date: 7/29/10                                                                                                           Rating: 4.5

Critique: Let me start by saying our trip was a hybrid between this trail map (Dolly Sods Wilderness Backpack) and Rohrbaugh Plains/Dolly Sods Shuttle. What we did is start on the Rohrbaugh Plains Tr and then a loop around Red Creek, Breathed Mnt Tr, Big Stone Coal, Rocky Point Tr, back to Red Creek, back to Rohrbaugh Plains Tr. My friend was familiar with the Rohrbaugh Tr so we started there, and it was a fairly easy (it was late in afternoon when we arrived) hike in to the great overlook for the first nights camp. I think this is a great view and too bad it is only incorporated into one of the hikes on this website and not more. On a Thursday night we had the place to ourselves.

Red Creek was great and even at the low water levels there were still swimming holes in a few spots.

My favorite night's camp along the route was at The Forks, even though according to my friend we didn't get the best spot right on the fork. Our site was just upstream of it and still right on the edge of the bank of Red Creek. The Forks was the first spot we saw other hikers.

Breathed Mt Tr was a nice change of scenery and lots of blueberries everywhere. The ascent is pretty steep and rocky.

The campsite on the 'beach' of Big Stonecoal was nice but unfortunately the water was very low. There wasn't barely a trickle noise to be heard. It would be beautiful at higher water levels though.

As others have said Rocky Pt Tr is incredibly rocky. And mainly little rocks, I was not expecting that part. I can handle climbing over boulders and such but these are smallish rocks like softball to cantaloupe sized and nearly impossible to get a good footing anywhere without sliding of the sides of them and such. Not recommended for those with bad ankles! That part of the trail we didn't do as an out-and-back, but rather as part of our main loop back to Red Creek. The Lions Head was nice but I still like the un-named vista the best. We did not come across a large cairn on the left to guide us up to the Lions Head, we did come across a small one on both sides but kept going looking for just a large one on the left. After gps showed we were at the big point on the trail we decided just to climb up.

Overall we didn't keep up nearly the pace of the hikes here, averaging 5mi per day, for a few reasons. But it was a nice pace, we slept in, played around in the creek for a few hours a couple of different days, etc. There was no need to rush, especially with the rocky areas of the trails. It was a fantastic trip, and in 5 days (2 of them being very short trips in and out) we still covered ~19mi, 2 vistas, and the wonderful Red Creek. This was actually my first hike in WV and also the first in a 10+ year absence for me.

Also, if there are any Amateur Radio Operators out there we were able to talk clearly on the Davis repeater both times we tried, from the beach campsite on Big Stonecoal and the un-named vista. This was a big relief to us, since neither of us had cell phone reception.

A special thanks to MrHyker for putting this all together. The information and trail maps, notes, and gps info were invaluable.

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Name: Mark                                                                                                                Hike: Rohrbaugh Plains/Dolly Sods Shuttle
Date: 6/13-14/2009                                                                                                Rating: 5

Critique: We made roughly the same hike as the other reviewer, making this hike into a 2-day loop hike by camping at the un-named overlook. This is great hike as an introduction to Dolly Sods and backpacking, as we took my brother-in-law for his first trip out. I think the climb up Fisher Spring wiped him out, but the view made up for it. Plus we met some fellow campers at the Fisher Spring trailhead and they gave us a lift back to my truck at the Blackbird Knob trailhead. I didn't use the GPS on this one as we have hiked almost all these trails before, so I was familiar with the intersections. The overlook was spectacular as usual, we watched it rain all around us Saturday evening but never felt a drop. The only disappointment was I wish there was a trail connecting Fisher Spring to Blackbird Knob on the east side of red creek so road hiking wouldn't be necessary, but I guess getting a lift makes that easier. After the hike we had another great pizza dinner at Sirianni's Cafe in Davis.

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Name: crazyone                                                                                                         Hike: Rohrbaugh Plains/Dolly Sods Shuttle
Date: July8-9                                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: As a new bper and wanting a challenge, I chose this route as a weekend adventure. My buddy and I arrived in Red Creek campground late Friday night and set up our camp and went to bed for our early trip. Saturday was a beautiful day. We started at the Black Bird Knob trailhead and worked our way to the end trailhead at the picnic area (hiking the route in reverse). We were pleased at how well the GPS coordinates were right on. We did get confused at a couple of trail junctions but we figured out our mistakes and went on. We spent the night at the overlook area (Un-named Vista) and went back to our car which we left at the Blackbird Knob trailhead. We had a nice 5 mile hike back to the car by the way of the road. I do highly recommend this trail for anybody who likes a little challenge and the scenery along the trail is awesome.

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