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Dolly Sods Wilderness and Bear Rocks

The name Dolly Sods is a corrupted reference derived from early settlers.  The Germanhomesteader was named Dahle and they referred to their farm as a “sod”, meaning an open mountaintop meadow.  Today’s Dolly Sods Wilderness is a part of the Monongahela National Forest and spans approximately 17,800 acres in central West Virginia.  47 miles of hiking trails stretch across the area, providing plenty of hiking over a wide variety of land types including bogs, hardwood groves, laurel thickets, stunted trees and boulders.

The Northland Trail ends in a boardwalk over a large bog which has numerous colorful mounds.  These mounds appear to be clumps of plants which may be red, pink, yellow, or green. Combined with the small white flowers dotting this area, the make a dramatic scene.

Colorful mounds dot the bog on Northland Trail

Colorful mounds dot the bog on Northland Trail

One of the regions carnivorous plants, the sundew, could be found throughout the bog.  The leaves are covered in hair-like tendrils tipped with a sticky substance that traps unwary insects.  Once detected, the leaves fold around the insect and digest it for nutrients.

Sundew plant is carnivorous, but only threatens small insects

Sundew plant is carnivorous, but only threatens small insects

I’m not sure what flower this blue one is, but it certainly added to the rainbow of colors we found in the bog.

Blue Bog Flower

Blue Bog Flower

The high moisture content of the bog area causes growth of moss on almost anything.  One example is this stump which is rapidly being taken over by other plants.

Moss covered stump

Moss covered stump

At the northeast end of the Dolly Sods Wilderness is a separate area called Bear Rocks Preserve, which consists of a white sandstone outcrop on the Eastern Continental Divide that overlooks the South Branch of the Potomac River and the Shenandoah National Park.

White sandstone forms Bear Rocks

White sandstone forms Bear Rocks

We visited Dolly Sods on Labor Day, and found lots of others enjoying the Wilderness.  I suggest you go, but try to schedule your visit on some other day than the last vacation of the summer!

References:

Dolly Sods Wilderness – Wilderness.net

Dolly Sods Wilderness – US Forest Service

Dolly Sods Wilderness – Wikipedia

Bear Rocks Preserve – The Nature Conservancy

Bear Rocks Preserve – Wikipedia

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Mark Bobb

Mark Bobb loves to travel and do photography in his free time.

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