Rohrbaugh Trail: Dolly Sods

  • Highlights: Views, Dolly Sods Wilderness
  • Distance: 7.2 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 844 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt (and mud) with numerous rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Rohrbaugh Plains Trailhead, Dolly Sods Road/Forest Road 19; near the Dolly Sods Picnic area. A small parking area holds 6-8 vehicles.
  • Trail Markings: trail signs at junctions, no blazes
  • Website: AllTrails and US Forest Service
  • Beer Pairings: Hellbender Burritos, Davis WV—Logger Lager Pils & Halleck Pale Ale

Trail Map:

The Hike:

Dolly Sods puts the wild and wonderful in West Virginia. This unique wilderness is home to bog and heath ecosystems more commonly found in southern Canada. This area is a true wilderness. A trailhead sign warns: “Don’t expect cell phone service and be prepared to navigate unmarked trails and cross waterways without the benefit of bridges”.

Dolly Sods is a high-altitude plateau famous for rugged wilderness, sweeping vistas, heath barrens, grassy meadows—and muddy trails. The area gets a considerable amount of rainfall and many hikers have found their shoes engulfed in ankle-high mud. In late July, this trail had several muddy sections, but we were able to easily navigate through and around the mud. This is not a trail for flip flops.

From the trailhead parking area near the Dolly Sods Picnic Area, follow the sign for Rohrbaugh Plains, trail number 508. This trail is unmarked. The path is fairly obvious; however, we suggest downloading the AllTrails trail map as there are a few unmarked spur trails near the rocky overlook. There are signs at trail junctions.

The Rorhbaugh Trail winds through some of Dolly Sods most spectacular scenery. Backpacker Magazine called this hike the best first backpack in the Dolly Sods. We certainly agree.

The trail passes through multiple rhododendron thickets—some were still blooming in late July. A variety of wildflowers, moss, ferns, colorful mushrooms, and fungi dotted the trail floor. This area reminded us of the Pacific Northwest. Several small stream crossings were easy to rock hop in July. However, in the spring or after heavy rains, stream crossings could involve wet feet.

Rohrbaugh Cliffs

At 2.6 miles reach the first of several spur trails with amazing views from Rohrbaugh Cliffs. From the top of the rocky cliffs, great views open up across the valley to Lions Head and the Red Creek basin. Check out each viewpoint. Fall foliage must be spectacular here.

Some hikers take in the views from the cliffs and return from here making this hike a little over 5 miles. AllTrails continues this hike past the cliffs and so did we. The trail passes through several meadows, more rhododendron thickets, and several stream crossings before reaching a junction with the Wildlife Trail (trail #560) at 3.1 miles. 

Bear slightly left here to continue on the Rohrbaugh Trail. The trail begins a short steep descent before leveling off and then crossing yet another small stream. The trail ends at the perpendicular junction with the Fisher Spring Run Trail (trail # 510). There are a few rock cairns here are a Forest Service sign. Retrace your steps past the cliffs to the parking area and your vehicle. 

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Hellbenders Burritos in Davis WV is about 30 miles from the trailhead. Named after the largest salamander in the east, this “West Virginia Burreatery” has eight taps of WC craft beer, wine by the glass, and indoor and outdoor seating. They also have some amazing burritos to please both meat-eaters and vegetarians. 

Pete opted for the Shovelhead Burrito (pulled pork in barbecue sauce with horseradish coleslaw, rice, & cheddar jack cheese) and a cold Logger Lager Pils (5.2% ABV • 35 IBU) from Big Timber Brewing. It doesn’t get much better than this. 

Kathy was very pleased with the Admiral Burrito (chicken, bacon, black beans, peppers & onions, cheddar jack cheese, guacamole, & choice of salsa) and a pint of Halleck Pale Ale (6.0% ABV • 50 IBU) from Chestnut Brew Works. She respectfully disagrees with Pete: this combination was heaven in a glass and on a plate.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.