Most West Virginia visitors know that Dolly Sods is great for its extraordinary sights and blueberry picking in the spring and summer, but this section of the Monongahela National Forest isn’t just a destination for the warmer months. With over 17,000 acres to explore, Dolly Sods’ vistas usher in the cooler weather with breathtaking views of scarlet covered spruces lining the horizon. As the days inch closer to the winter solstice, these brilliant colors are replaced with bare branches, heavy with snow, creating a winter wonderland that appears untouched by man. Beyond simply admiring these views, Dolly Sods offers many activities visitors may indulge in, whether dressed in shorts and sneakers, or parkas and boots.
Bear Rocks Preserve
Perhaps one of the reasons why West Virginia is considered “almost heaven” is because Dolly Sods visitors are able to walk among the clouds that float within reach of the edge of the Allegheny Plateau. If you follow the 2 1/2-mile trail to Bear Rocks Preserve, you’ll find the most spectacular spot to view all of Dolly Sods’ pristine beauty, from cloud tips to stream beds. This popular vista offers flat rocks for a lunch break or a peaceful moment of meditation among the tops of the spruces and hemlocks.
Northland Nature Loop
For those that prefer to be closer to the ground, or love to learn about the flora that surrounds them, the Northland Nature Loop takes visitors through a leisurely, half-mile walk through the trees. Lined with annotated plaques, the trail reveals historical and scientific information about the trees, rocks and wartime events that all helped to create the well-loved forest.
Outside of Dolly Sods, but still within the Monongahela National Forest, hides a scarlet secret found along the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk Trail. The best time to walk this pathway happens to be in late October to mid-November, when cranberries tend to flourish. The boardwalk traces a half-mile trail that reaches into a peculiar ecosystem that hosts rare birds, mammals, and plants that are otherwise not found in the National Forest. The “glades” created a natural atmosphere for cranberry bogs to thrive, turning a typical shrub-lined trail into a field freckled with scarlet berries in autumn. Although the sight is breathtaking, visitors are asked to stay on the boardwalk to avoid disturbing the bogs.
After a brisk and refreshing day spent at 4,700 feet in elevation, there’s no better way to end the day than in front of a rock fireplace in one of Harman’s Log Cabins. Or, for those that prefer to still be immersed in the wilderness as they relax, each cabin comes with an outdoor hot tub. The resort is bordered by Dolly Sods, the Potomac River and Seneca Rocks National Recreational Area, ensuring the best views from any side of the cabin. Surrounded by turning leaves, or the first flakes of the winter season, there is no better way to rest body and mind after a full day of adventure and discovery.