img_20161005_0001Dolly Sods

This may be my favorite place in all of West Virginia.  The Dolly Sods Wilderness area is part of the Monongahela National Forest.  Its 17,371 acres straddle the county lines of Tucker, Grant, and Randolph counties, and it is the highest plateau east of the Mississippi.

I have visited twice and want to go back.  Because of its altitude, plants are found in Dolly Sods that you would expect to find in Canada.  Dolly Sods is the southernmost edge of their range.  I took a dirt road up to the plateau, and once up there, I felt like I must have traveled to Canada because the plateau has so little in common with the valley below.  The plateau has a rolling, wavy look as huge boulders break up the ground cover.  I climbed out on the boulders to take my photos.  The most interesting characteristic of the Sods are the one-sided trees.  The wind blows so strongly up there that branches can grow only on one side of the trees.  Those trees alone give you a feeling of being some place wild and special.

Another interesting characteristic that you  won’t find in many national forests are unexploded shells.  During World War II, soldiers training to fire artillery and mortars used the area as practice range, according to Wikipedia.  Even though work has been done to find and detonate left over shells, there are still warnings to stay on existing trails and only camp at existing camp sites.

To learn more, visit this site of the USDA Forest Service.img_20161005_0002img_20161005_0003img_20161005_0004img_20161005_0005