Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike

NOTICE: As of Oct 1, 2004 the Forest Service has officially assigned names and numbers to the trails in Dolly Sods North. These names do not coincide with that found on other maps previously posted here or on other web sites. Also beware that as of Oct 9, 2004 all of the signage has not yet been put in place further adding to the confusion. Go to Dolly Sods North Master Map for a full trail inventory and an updated color-coded map of the area. The following information is based on the latest data obtained from the USFS.

U-Tube Video by Blaine Martin

Description: This is a moderate 10.8 mile circuit 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 throughout the course of the day.

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.

Google Custom DirectionsFR

FR75 is a gravel road with some nice bumps but passable for most cars. The parking area is at the top of the Allegheny Front right were the road makes a sharp left turn. It is unmistakable.



Printable/Downloadable Map

Printable/Downloadable Map!

View 3-D Map!

A "MUST READ" before entering Dolly Sods North!!!


Trail Notes: First I need to thank Trudy and John Phillips and Jonathan Jessup for sharing their maps with me. Their insight has made my exploration of the North Sods quite enjoyable. To get more info visit Trudy and John's site. I’ve hiked most of these trails 3 times now and carried my GPS unit the last time.


From the cars walk south on FR75 for about 100 yards and turn right onto an old jeep trail named Bear Rocks Trail (Tr522) and blocked by boulders. You will gradually descend to Dobbin Grade, passing a seriously eroded section of the jeep trail (A footpath to the left gets you around this.) and a mini-bog sheltered in a hollow. You’ll climb out of the hollow and descend to Dobbin Grade (TR526) at 1.02 miles from the start. The jeep trail is also badly eroded here. There are optional trails on either side.


Cross Dobbin Grade and descend further through a grassy area to Red Creek. There are a few good campsites here. Cross the creek. Climb to the first rise. You’ll end up on an old ATV trail. Do not take the ATV trail but turn right onto a footpath at the USFS Trail marker. As you enter the woods you’ll pass through a small wet area. Cross a drainage and immediately turn right (uphill). Follow the drainage for about 15 yards and turn left. Walk through the woods until you pick up

another trail that goes uphill. Turn right. Soon you’ll arrive at the grassy slopes of Raven Ridge although, at this point, you are still on Bear Rocks Trail. Follow the Trail stakes for another 0.4 miles until you arrive at the junction of Raven Ridge Trail (Tr521). Turn Right here.


It may be possible at certain spots to climb to the northern edge of the ridge for views of Dobbin Slashing and distant ridges. At about 0.2 miles from the last trail junction pass Beaver View Trail (Tr523) on the left. Soon reach a large grove of mature Red Spruce to your left (South). As you look at it there is a lone deciduous tree to its left, possibly a fruit tree. This approximates an opening in the grove and the front door of a fantastic campsite protected from the elements.


Continue west passing an unsigned trail on the left that eventually connects with Beaver View Trail that you passed earlier. At 0.86 miles from the Spruce Grove turn left onto a footpath cut through some small Red Spruce. In another 0.44 miles arrive at Rocky Ridge Trail (Tr524). Turn left here. From this ridge you can get sweeping views of Dolly Sods and much of what you just hiked.


Continue south on Rocky Ridge Trail. At about 1 mile the trail veers slightly to the right and crosses Rocky Knob. Weather permitting this is a great lunch spot with views of Canaan Valley and Mountain. You have to rely on several cairns and short patches of footpath to get through this area.


In about 0.3 miles from Rocky Knob you’ll pass a trail intersection in a wet area with a large boulder. The trail to the left is marked with cairns and leads to a dead end and a possible small emergency campsite should a backpacker need to get off of the ridge. By-pass this trail and in another 0.1 to 0.2 miles arrive at a jeep trail. This is the junction with Dobbin Grade Trail (Tr526). Turn left here. Parts of this jeep trail are extremely eroded and serves as a part-time stream. There is a footpath on the right bank. The track of this trail is mostly easterly. You’ll descend at first, then climb the left side of a gentle knoll and descend again to the Left Fork of Red Creek. Cross it and climb to the top of the bank to find another 3-way intersection. Going left will take you back to the campsite in the Spruce Grove. Turn right and in 0.6 miles merge right onto a railroad grade. To the left will be Beaver View Trail which you passed earlier on Raven Ridge.


Continue on Dobbin Grade Trail. At first it hugs the side of a hill and then descends to a huge open bog. It turns south here following the drainage for a tributary of Red Creek. In places I think the stream and the trail are one and the same. As the grade begins to turn left (East and then North-east) pass Upper Red Creek Trail (Tr509) to your right (south) and, in a few more yards, Raven Ridge Trail (Tr521) to your left (North).


As Dobbin Grade makes it’s gradual turn to the left (North-east) cross Red Creek. For a great view of the bog and points west climb up a grassy slope to an exposed campsite and turn around.


Return to Red Creek and turn right. If you did not climb up to the view turn left immediately after crossing the creek. At about 1.16 miles from the crossing arrive at Beaver Dam Trail (Tr520) on the right. This trail takes you out to FR75. In another 0.65 miles reach the junction with the Bear Rocks Trail. Turn right here and retrace your initial steps back to the cars.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Read about our scouting trip to DSN.

Read about our scheduled outing.

Critique this outing!



Name: Ed. S                                                                                                                             Hike: Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike
Date: August 27, 2012                                                                                                          Rating: 4.9

Critique: A very good hike, in a very scenic area. The numerous large meadows make this trip one with a near endless variety of views, and also a unique area for the Mid Atlantic. The meadows are dry and windswept in the highlands portion of the hike, interspersed with lone trees. In the lowlands the meadows are significantly more open and are boggy in areas. The views are especially good along the Rocky Ridge Trail, where you can look into Canaan Valley. This area also sports intriguing wind carved rock formations. The meadows are often punctuated with spruce forests, with obviously lower temperatures, refreshing on an otherwise hot day. Three crossings of the two forks of Red Creek give nice stream views. A fair amount of wildlife, saw a weird albino spider, a green snake, a ribbon snake, and a fair number of grouse. In general, the trails are easy to follow. The only exceptions are the Red Creek crossing on the Bear Rocks Trail (if going west, hang left when ascending), and on the Dobbin Grade Trail after the Left Fork crossing, where you need to hang a right onto the old Dobbin Grade RR bed at a four way junction.

The only negatives, which account for the not-quite-highest rating, are three mucky bog crossings on the Dobbin Grade Trail, where your feet will sink no matter how you cross, and also one short section of the same trail which is fully grown in with head high grasses and weeds. The eastern half of the Bear Rocks Trail is highly threaded, but only a minor complaint.

Finally, if you do this on a hot, sunny day like I did, remember that you will be exposed to the sun for at least half of the hike, so prepare accordingly.


Name: Mark Skidmore                                                                                                           Hike: Dolly Sods North Circuit Hike
Date: 6/29-6/30/12                                                                                                             Rating: 5

Critique: We hiked this in the reverse direction and made it into a backpacking trip staying overnight at the campsite where Dobbin Grade cross the Left Fork of Red Creek. Very nice campsite back in among the trees (it kept us safe and sound from the massive storms that swept through the area) plus there are several more in the area. Hiking in on Dobbin Grade was the driest I've seen it with minimal detours, but after the heavy rains I'm sure it is worse now. The forks of red creek were running with plenty of water even with the dry conditions, but water elsewhere looked pretty stagnant.

Again, many thanks to Mr. Hyker for the great descriptions and directions!


Name: Chitra Sundaram                                                                                                       Hike: North circuit Tr 522-524 and back
Date: April 8, 2012                                                                                                                 Rating: 5!

Critique: Hi All: I just wanted to drop a quick note on Dolly Sods for all of you. We did go to DS Wilderness area. Since it was early april, we had to park part way thru Fireroad 75 and walk the gravel road to the parking area. no problem with that. Then we did trail 522 to 524, and then after a viewpoint on 524 we retraced our steps. In total 13miles including the 3 miles up to the parking area. couple points for all future walkers:

a. Utterly magical. We had bright blue skies, two snow flurries two rain with some hail and it was all magnificent :) especially walking thru the meadows on trail 522.

b. the signposting was great!! contrary to some of the previous reviews on this and other boards/trail discussions. It was quiet and we only met one other couple all the way, but it was not difficult to find our way at all. reminded me of a mix of Scotland and Wales and Maine and everything else in between.

So completely recommend walking there :) we were 2 adults and 2 hardy kids (9 and 12) and I had been a little worried of getting lost, but staying on the clearly defined trail - clearly defined by so many previous hikers - we were totally fine and really enjoyed it.


Name: TG & BZ                                                                                                                        Hike: Dolly Sods North
Date: 3/18/12                                                                                                                        Rating: ???

Critique: Hiked this one today. Or tried to...

First up, I should say we're experienced hikers and one of us is a trail-runner. We are not novices.

After the first three-quarters of a mile or so, the trail was imperceptible. It petered out after one large rock pile (not exactly a cairn, just a rock pile). From that point on, this hike should be considered a bushwhack.

Despite having maps, a compass and a GPS, we could not find any of the first several trails, and just happily wandered around a bit.

Also, FR 75 is closed about 1.25 miles from the trailhead because of minor water damage that has caused minor erosion to the road, so add a bit to the length of this one until/if USFS repairs the road.


Name: Marshall McCoy                                                                                                         Hike: Dolly Sods North Circuit
Date: July 28-July 30 2011                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: Two friends and I hiked Dolly Sods North this Thursday evening through today (Saturday, July 30, 2011). I had actually planned on doing the 15 mile Dolly Sods North BP, but after a long Friday hike and being totally out of shape, we decided to cut our hike short and take Dobbin Grade Trail. This is my first time visiting the Sods since a Boy Scout trip here almost 15 years ago; and my first backpacking trip since then as well.

The spring coming out of a black hose on Dobbin Grade Trail was flowing well. The water was crystal clear and very cold. We weren't sure of the water quality, so we decided to pretreat it anyway. Regardless, it tasted great!

We were treating water with Potable Water because we ran into some difficulty boiling water due to recent showers and most of the ground wood being rather wet.

I used your site almost exclusively in planning our trip, and your descriptions are excellent. I will definitely return to your site in planning our next backpacking trek!

By the way, Dobbin Grade Trail was quite squishy. We all ended up with some bog in our boots. At one point my friend Tim dropped almost knee deep into a bog. This trail is very difficult to navigate and forces you to spend lots of energy detouring around bogs. I'm wondering if the slight shower we had the night before contributed to the additional sogginess.

This hike for us was a huge learning experience. How to maintain hydration, pack weight (I packed much more than I needed), and hiking pace are more important than I originally anticipated. A nice water filter system is definitely on my shopping list for our next trip.


Name: Dave                                                                                                                            Hike: Dolly Sods North
Date: 8/17-8/19/2007                                                                                                         Rating: 4

Critique: Warning! As of last weekend the rangers are warning people not to camp in tents in the sods due to a "nuisance" black bear that actually charged + attacked more than one person and tore into a sleeping camper's tent! I only found out when I arrived and laminated signs were hung from all trailheads. I did the north of the sods as a day hike and saw fresh bear scat all over the Bear Rocks trail (tr521). The place is the blueberry capital of the USA so it is easy to see why so many bears. Almost unheard of for one to become aggressive like this though. Otherwise the Dolly Sods is one of the most beautiful places in the country!


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