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In West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest, the Dolly Sods Wilderness features sweeping vistas, spruce and aspen groves, beautiful meadows, beaver dams and rolling creeks. The area is also home to several intersecting trails, offering a selection of loop options for multi-day hikes of varying levels of difficulty.
The Red Creek Trail begins in the south at Laneville Cabin, right off of Forest Road 19. Extending east, the trail winds through lush, green meadows and forests as it meanders along the channel of Red Creek. This part of the trail was built on an old logging railroad corridor that serviced the once-bustling timber industry in this area. You will have one major stream crossing along this section. Be aware: stream crossings can be dangerous, especially after periods of severe rains and snowmelts.
After crossing this difficult channel, the trail meets up with the Little Stonecoal Trail. Bear right to stay on the old railroad grade along Red Creek. Where Stonecoal Run feeds into Red Creek, the Big Stonecoal Trail extends north on another former rail corridor. Continuing east, you will arrive at a wide area of the grade, where you have the option to bear sharply left onto the aptly named Rocky Point Trail. That trail features lovely views of the canyon around Breathed Mountain.
As a good choice for a multi-day hike, you can continue hiking uphill for approximately four miles along the Red Creek Trail after passing the Rocky Point Trail junction. Here you’ll find sub-alpine terrain and areas covered in moss, and all throughout the Monongahela National Forest there is the possibility of spotting typically recluse wildlife such as black bears, coyotes and grouse.
Roughly halfway to the trail’s northern endpoint, the Breathed Mountain Trail extends west. Instead continue farther north along the Red Creek Trail to its end at the Blackbird Knob Trail. Both the Breathed Mountain Trail and Blackbird Knob Trail meander through spruce forest and rocky terrain to the northern trailhead for the Big Stonecoal Trail. Head south on that trail to complete a big loop and ultimately reemerge at Laneville Cabin.
To reach the Red Creek Trail’s southern end from the Canaan Valley, follow State Route 32 south to Laneville Road/County Route 45. Turn left and follow Laneville Road, which turns into Forest Route 19, for 10 miles to the Dolly Sods Wilderness. Just after crossing the bridge and entering the area, you will notice plenty of parking available on the left.
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