View Full Version : Dolly Sods this weekend

10-14-2009, 10:16
I'm looking for a little bit of advice concerning a trip I had planned for this weekend (Fri-Sun). I was planning on doing a 25 mile loop in the Dolly Sods area of West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest, but the weather forecast is steadily getting worse as the week goes on. The forecast now looks like this:

Friday...Rain likely. Near steady temperature in the upper 30s. North winds around 5 mph. Chance of rain 60 percent.
Friday Night...Cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Lows around 30. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.
Saturday...Cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Lows around 30. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.
Saturday Night...Cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Lows in the upper 20s. Chance of precipitation 40 percent.
Sunday...A chance of snow in the morning. Cloudy. Highs in the mid 40s. Chance of snow 30 percent.

Of course everything clears up by Monday. If I could shift my trip to the beginning of next week, I would. But such short notice for taking those days off work isn't possible. If it were just going to be cold with some snow this weekend I would be fine. It's the high chance of rain and combination of highs in the 30s that worries me.

Does anyone have any opinions on this or have more experience with Dolly Sods (this is my first trip there)? Would you still go if you were faced with this forecast, or would you try and find another hike with a lower chance of rain and possibly higher daily temps? Does anyone have any suggestions for other hikes with similar mileage in southern or soutwestern VA? It looks like the rain there has a slightly lower chance of happening along with slightly higher temps.

Thanks in advance!

10-14-2009, 11:25
I wouldn't do it this weekend, to be honest. That place can get downright cold and nasty in bad weather. I'd do it in mid summer. Nice places to swim.

If you want, check out my trip report on my hiking blog (under "my journals"). We did it in August. I actually have 2 trip reports as we have done it two summers. In August is tons of blueberries.

10-14-2009, 11:37
it will be slot colder up there and I am willing to bet the wind will be more than 5mph. It's gets so windy up there. I love Dolly Sods but I wouldn't go with that forecast. You have got to go up there during blueberry season.

Gray Blazer
10-14-2009, 11:38
I've heard that it is bad there when it's real wet. Muddy and soggy and all that.

10-14-2009, 11:58
yeah. it will be real soggy since it's supposed to rain for the next few days including the weekend. does anyone have any other suggestions for this weekend? i'd drive as far as NC. not sure what the weather is supposed to be like down that way.

10-14-2009, 11:59
I'm a big fan of Dolly Sods but faced with that forecast, I'd wimp out. I agree with Blissful that summer is the best time. I hiked it in July of 08 when I lived in Frostburg and really enjoyed it. Yes, autumn can be nice but look at it this way: in the mid-Atlantic, most summertime hiking is yucky hot and humid but Dolly Sods' high elevation make it an exception. So save it for the summer when you'll appreciate leaving the sultry Baltimore weather for the refreshing coolness of the Alleghenies.

So where to go? Keeping in mind you want a 25 mile or so loop, I suggest Shenandoah NP where you have bailout options if the weather is really nasty and shelters (thus bringing howls of derision from the anti-shelter purists!). I don't think the Shenandoah backcountry will be as crowded as Skyline Drive in October but another option for you is the Great North Mountain area (http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj/lee/recreation/hiking/popular_hikes.shtml#north)of George Washington National Forest on the VA/WV border. A network of trails there including the Tuscarora allows the possibility for a loop. The weather will likely still be less-than-ideal but it shouldn't be as cold as Dolly Sods. If you have time beforehand, check out the PATC guidebook (http://www.patc.us/store/PB135.htm) or get on theri website/chatroom to get firsthand info.

Good luck!

10-14-2009, 13:35
there is a great 30 mile trail just out of Huntington WV called the Kanawha Trace Trail. I love this trail, it is where I do all of my conditioning for my AT thru. It's worth checking out. It has a couple shelters and is well mantained.

10-14-2009, 13:36
If I wasn't going to be in Gatlinburg this weekend I would join you on the Kanawha Trace.

10-14-2009, 13:38
thanks for all the info and advice. I usually do go to Shenandoah but wanted to branch out a bit and go further west. I still might hit up Shenandoah since it's familiar and in bad weather I will know my way around better. And I'm not opposed to using the shelters.

Thanks again. I'll keep Dolly Sods in mind for next summer.

10-14-2009, 13:39
I'll check out the Kanawha Trace Trail as well. Thanks

Don H
10-14-2009, 13:47
Our Scout troop is still doing the AT in MD this weekend despite the weather. Some have wimped out but the hard core hikers are still going. Safety precautions will be in place.

10-14-2009, 14:10
The only time I don't wimp out is a planned section hike over a number of days that's been in the works. In bad weather you can learn lots of things. Unfortunately mine this week ended early with foot issues or I'd be out in the rain tomorrow. Had all my gear for it.

But if we are planning a weekend getaway to a place like the Sods, there are exceptions. Why be miserable. And that place gets nasty and miserable.

10-14-2009, 14:20
i've had this hike on my mind for several weeks now, which is why i'm still holding on to doing it. but i know i should do it another time given the forecast. i'll either go on an alternate hike or stay home and work on some brewing some beer or something.

10-16-2009, 11:46
The Kanawha Trace is a nice trail. With the exception of about 7 miles on public road, the rest is on private property. The trail is 47 years old this year and hosts an "Anniversary" hike every five years. The next one in in 2012 (usually in early October). There is a new shelter near the 10 mile marker. It was an Eagle Scout project and has water (cistern) and a privy (I think). Contact the local Scout Council for more info - 304-523-3408.

I've hiked it a lot over the past 15 years. Our Troop helps with trail maintenance.

10-16-2009, 11:53
Bring the extra gear you need and stick to your plan. Some times it rains and some times it shines.

10-18-2009, 01:30
I ended up bailing. The friend I was going with got sick. I'll definitely be out somewhere next weekend for a few days.

10-18-2009, 10:59
Dolly Sods Webcam (http://www.fsvisimages.com/doso1/doso1.html)

10-18-2009, 14:00
lol. i checked that a few times over the weekend and saw nothing but fog. then i saw snow out there on the radar last night. now i see that snow on the ground. i'm sure it's beautiful out there but wet and cold at the same time.

10-18-2009, 20:19
You won't regret waiting for the summer and the blueberries. :)

10-23-2009, 17:18
josh where is the start of the trace trail?

10-24-2009, 11:35
QUOTE=GrubbyJohn;910860]josh where is the start of the trace trail?[/QUOTE]

Barboursville, WV


The Kanawha Trace Trail begins near the junction of Merrick
Creek and Mud River. For the first 1.5 miles, the trail follows a paved road.
The eastbound route is marked by a yellow blaze with a white rectangle above and below it. The westbound blaze is white with yellow rectangles.

The best starting place is where the trail exits the right side of the road and
enters the woods, beginning a short, steep climb to the crest of a small ridge.

Hikes with a stick
04-05-2010, 18:45
Just came across this thread... My wife and went to Dolly Sods on the weekend you were going to go last year, and it was awesome! It did snow, maybe 4" or so. But due to the ground being warm, the snow melted off of the trail, but it stayed on all the leftover vegetation and trees. It made it look like a winter wonderland, but the hiking was easy because the snow melted off the trail by early the next day. We were not the only ones out there either...

04-05-2010, 20:01
Bring the extra gear you need and stick to your plan. Some times it rains and some times it shines.

That's me too. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night...

Though I did get a bit freaked out in NY this past December. :)

07-10-2013, 10:35
Just resurrecting this thread because we had a similar situation last week (weather forecast-wise). Our meetup group had planned to go to Grayson Highlands on July 4th, but they had flash flood warnings, and high chances of rain for the whole weekend. We ended up going to Dolly Sods as an alternate. The forecast was for a 40% chance of rain each day, and we had one shower for 10 minutes on July 4th when we first started hiking, and again that night. On Friday and Saturday, no rain, and on Sunday, it rained right after we finished our trip. So it just shows how the forecast never seems to be correct for the Sods!

Beautiful spot, muddy in places, but the blueberries were just starting to ripen (we got some ripe ones in areas where the sun heated the bushes more). We had great campsites, and swam in Red Creek one day with our tents pitched on the banks.

My favorite place to go so far in my short backpacking career!

08-24-2013, 16:09
What's the camping situation like at Dolly Sods? I want to go out there for a weekend next month to watch the hawks migrating through. I see Red Creek, but it's pretty small. Can I camp anywhere in the wilderness itself? That may be a really stupid question...

08-24-2013, 19:56
You can camp anywhere in the Sods. If you go to Midatlantichikes.com and poke around his WV section, he has all the camp sites marked on his maps

08-24-2013, 21:11
You can camp anywhere in the Sods. If you go to Midatlantichikes.com and poke around his WV section, he has all the camp sites marked on his maps

Thank you!

12-10-2013, 01:40
Watch out for the bombs