Exploring Bear Rocks at The Dolly Sods
We've been doing a lot of traveling lately exploring the Potomac Highlands. In an effort to get some of our findings to you sooner, I'm enlisting the help of my wonderful wife, Jamie, and my equally wonderful father, Lem, to help me put pen to paper. This is the first post from my wife on our exploration of the Bear Rocks Preserve…
My husband and I love this place. The drive from the Golden Anchor Cabins to Bear Rocks Preserve at the northern end of The Dolly Sods is an hour long drive over a
bumpy gravel road. Drive slow - you really don't want to go fast anyway - look around and enjoy all that this area has to offer. Leaving from the largest and last parking area on the mountain range, we climbed up and across the rock cliff to the highest points and just were mesmerized by its beauty. It's a nice place to go relax, take in some fresh air and enjoy the view. With our packed lunches in hand we chose a nice flat rock and enjoyed being together in such a beautiful wilderness.
I was so shocked that while hiking multiple trails I saw no litter. It's refreshing to see that in this area hikers and tourists alike respect this wilderness area that has seen so much
disrespect in its history. At points in this protected area's history it has suffered deforestation which left the area barren, forest fires so hot the ground itself was burned away exposing the rock formations we see today, and WWII artillery practice that left unexploded mortars in the woods to this day. David Sharp's article at www.patc.us/hiking/destinations/mortar.html is a good write-up on the WWII legacy in the Sods.
My advice: Wear good shoes. There are so many areas you can go out on the rocks that are accessible as long as you're wearing something you can feel confident in. Be aware that this is a wilderness area; there is nothing here but nature. I suggest backpacking a few supplies. You never know when nature calls so be prepared.
We also wore long pants to hike the trails because I am petrified of snakes. If I am going to see one on the trail I want to at least have a paper-thin wall of fabric between a snake and my skin. I would also carry my weed-eater with me but Daniel doesn't think it's appropriate for hiking. We never fail to see a deer or other wildlife but we try NOT to see the bears! Dolly Sods is full of fun history (read the billboards) and various habitats, and if you go at the right time make sure to pick some blueberries and huckleberries to munch on.
Check out Ken Greenwood's stunning Bear Rocks Preserve time lapse here
The video captures what it feels like to spend an afternoon on top of the world.
Here are a few more pictures we took on our trip. Enjoy!