by Ann Devine-King, Outings Leader |
A beautiful, fall day loop-hike in the Dolly Sods Wilderness: life don't get much better!
October 19 proved to be gorgeous day for an 8.3 mile loop hike in Dolly Sods. The air was cool, crisp, and rich with deep woods aroma. We were visually stimulated with the contrasting colors of blue sky, yellow, orange, red and brown autumn foliage, and the sparkling waters of Red Creek.
Seven of us; Lori Meuller, Barb Brown, George Dasher, Sarah Hicks, Tom Bowman, Bob Thompson and myself, set out from the Laneville parking area and followed Red Creek Trail. Careful watch for cairns helped identify the true trail from the several off shoots that led to camp sites or false trails. After .5 miles, George’s keen eye helped us find the easy to miss Little Stonecoal Trail. Taking this trail north, we crossed Red Creek,most people keeping their boots dry. We began our steady ascent along the stream valley of Little Stonecoal Run for 1.8 miles until meeting Dunkenbarger Trail. Following Dunkenbarger, we were rewarded with exceptional scenery and easier hiking conditions along the higher mountain plateau.
Barb Brown and Lori Mueller descend the Stonecoal Trail in the Dolly Sods Wilderness:
Lunch was along Dunkenbarger Run, also a camp site. After hiking 1.6 miles on Dunkenbarger, we came to Stonecoal Trail. Turning south onto Stonecoal Trail, we descended the stream valley, crossing Stonecoal Run once and pausing at a cascading waterfall. After 1.9 miles on Stonecoal Trail, we came to Red Creek and made our final stream crossing. Red Creek Trail is marked by a cairn just after fording Red Creek. Due to erosion of the trail along Red Creek, the trail has been rerouted up a rocky hillside. We followed cairns that led the way up a switch backing trail and then followed it to the original railroad grade trail of Red Creek. 1.5 miles on Red Creek Trail brought us back to our cars in Laneville. Total hiking time was six hours. Hiking difficulty was moderate to strenuous based on elevation changes, stream crossings, and rocky conditions along some of the trail.
It’s not hard to get lost in the Dolly Sods Wilderness. The trails are not blazed. Most trail intersections and trailheads are marked, but not all of them. Keeping along our intended route included using a good map, compass, GPS, being attentive to cairns, and reading our surroundings to stay oriented.
2009 should be a good year for more outings with the Sierra Club. For the latest postings, check our web site at http://westvirginia.sierraclub.org/outings/index.html