High to low, rocks and roots, meadows and forest. This route has something to experience for everyone.
Plenty of stream access to filter water.
Start at the highest point Bear Rocks Preserve. Make your way down Bear Rocks Trail
to the intersecting trail of Dobbin Grade Trail
. Do not get confused at the sign and stay straight on Bear Rocks Trail
down the path that appears washed out. Avoid this section of the Dobbin Grade Trail
as it reminded me of the Bog of Eternal Stench. Continue on and merge right onto Raven Ridge Trail
. Meet at the intersecting trail of Rocky Ridge Trail
. This was a nice peaceful area.
Start south on Rocky Ridge Trail
and enjoy the various rock formations. You'll merge into Blackbird Knob Trail
and take it to the right down the hill. You're on the right path if you reach the point where three trails meet with an access trail to a parking lot to the west. There will be a larger informational posting board. Hop on Big Stonecoal Trail
. We stopped at an awesome campsite with a stone fire pit and five lounging stone chairs under some pine trees on the left which is clearly visible from the trail.
Continue on Big Stonecoal Trail
to Rocky Point Trail
. Drop your packs and find your way up to the Lion's Head viewpoint. Awesome viewing and there are several cairns marking the easier trail up on your left. If you want to scramble on the rocks push on and then start up the rocks. The rock jumping was quite fun. Get back to your packs and backtrack slightly to the Dunkenbarger Trail
. Nothing really different to see on this trail and I would probably cut it out if I did it again. The alternative would be the Big Stonecoal Trail
down to the creek. Either way, be prepared to go downhill for what feels like forever.
At the bottom of Dunkenbarger Trail
, cross the creek to Red Creek Trail
. This part of the trip pretty much sucked. After several hours of hiking, you finish with some very steep grades up and down until the trail meets the creek again. My legs had a good burn after this section. Prior to crossing, our group veered right and found another cool campsite. Start of day three and our group was going through some moleskin. Push up Red Creek Trail
past the waterfall that you can hear but not really see from the trail.
Meet Blackbird Knob Trail
and hang a right to where it meets Upper Red Creek Trail
. Take the left and march on. We were all starting to have get-done-itis at this point. Not very hard hiking here. Take a right on Dobbin Grade Trail
for a short distance to Raven Ridge Trail
. Motor up the slight grade on this trail and into the trees. Pop-out of the trees again just in time to meet up with Bear Rocks Trail
again. Enjoy your last approximately two miles back to your starting point.
Don't forget to look around and enjoy your adventure. This is an awesome three-day trip and it offers a great challenge!
Tons of large beautiful Rhododendrons.