Camp at Bear Rocks

    4.7
    11.9 miles 1050 ft gain  - Loop Trail

    Added by Christin Healey

    With grassy meadows, giant boulders leading to sweeping vistas of the Allegheny Mountains, heaps of rhododendron in the springtime, crystal clear rivers and streams, and winding paths through the Monongahela National Forest, Dolly Sods Wilderness is, in my opinion, a true gem of a hiker's paradise on the East Coast. There are campsites as close as 1 mile into the hike, but you can hike the whole 11.9 mile loop. 

    This particular hike is great as there are multiple camping sites, both established and backcountry, and views for miles around almost every bend. Still not convinced? This high-altitude plateau has characteristics typically found in Canadian landscapes. so you can travel north without leaving your backyard below the Mason-Dixon Line -- high five y'all!

    From the parking area on FR75 (go to the second entrance for Dolly Sods for Bear Rocks, GPS: 39.06352, -79.30326) take the Bear Rocks trail, TR522. After the first mile, you will reach a wooden walkway to cross your first bog, then cross Red Creek. There is a great campsite to the right here, with a fire ring and plenty of hammock space. If you wanted to set up camp and explore with a lighter load, this would be the place.

    The trail continues to the left, then makes a sharp right once you hit the fern field. Walk over another wooden footpath, through a little forest, and reach your first meadow with mountain views. At mile 2.3, it will intersect with Raven Ridge Trail TR 521 -- continue straight on TR 521. At mile 3.8, turn left on Rocky Ridge Trail TR 524. Shortly after this, you will reach the windswept boulders with the most amazing views and tons of photo opportunities. I camped here (there is a spot to the right with a fire pit) and explored the area with just a camera in hand and dog on leash.

    Feel free to continue on the trail, just follow the small rock cairns as this section can be a little tricky. To finish the loop in the morning, at mile 5.5 turn left on Dobbin Grade Trail TR526 as it descends in the valley, follow until mile 8.1 where you will turn left uphill on the Raven Ridge Trail TR521, then finally at mile 9.6, turn right again on Bear Rocks Trail TR 522 and retrace your steps to the parking lot. There are no blazes on the trails here, so bring a map so the trail numbers make sense. Happy exploring and feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the area!

    Read More
    Camping
    Fishing
    Photography
    Backpacking
    Hiking
    Dog Friendly
    Easy Parking
    River
    Scenic
    Wildflowers

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    Reviews

    Rate this Adventure

    An amazing place on the East Coast

    This was a last minute decision to go to Dolly Sods. I’m so glad we did. You often hear about how awesome this place is but always think it’s further away than it actually is. It’s a unique place that reminds me of West Kerry, Ireland. It’s marshy and muddy in lots of places. We ended up hiking to Lions Head which was a decent view. Trails are relatively low-lying. Don’t get the impression that this is an “out and back” backpacking trail. It’s a system of trails that allows you to create your own route.

    🥇Top Contributor

    4 months ago

    Limited light pollution, bring a camera

    Amazing opportunities for astro photography (and photography in general), so plan for the Milky Way season and you can get some incredible shots. Camped here a few times and there's almost always been rain, so don't forget to bring a rain fly!

    Marvelous!

    Your review is spot on, with helpful tips, trip details, interesting facts, and fun read! Thanks! I am headed to Dolly Sods in a few weeks thanks to your description and photos!

    Awesome

    Just a couple hour drive from the DC area, this hike, and the Dolly Sod wilderness in general were amazing. Saw a great variety of terrain, vegetation, and wildlife, including a black bear.

    Great Adventure

    I loved to doing this! It is what I was looking for. It was a great family experience. We had a clear night for the most part. What a view! I did take trail 526 out, and the last leg of it is all bog. There are places where you just have to trudge through. I probably would take a left on the Raven Ridge Trail (521) and exit that way instead if I did it again.

    Leave No Trace

    Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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