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It was gorgeous and peaceful, right on the creek. So many stars!!
Campsites are first-come, first-served. We stayed one night with no permit. You get to them by a dirt road, park, and then the campsites are a little ways in. No amenities other than cleared level ground and a spot for the campfire.
A couple of friends and I traveled to the Monongahela National Forest in search of some free camping. Unfortunately we had gotten there late on Labor Day weekend so we drove pretty far in to find a campsite. All of the campsites seem to be along the river and have a fire ring. Although our neighbors were across the river from us, the sound of the river blocked out any noise they had made. It was perfect! We also took a ride up to Spruce Knob in the morning, for two reasons. One because we wanted to see the view. Two because on top of the Spruce Knob tower was the only cell reception we were able to find in order to find our way out of there.
Just camped there with two of my friends this past weekend, really cool site we were lucky enough to get a site next to the river! Get there early as it’s first come first serve! That being said just park somewhere and walk 300’ from the road!
If you want a great spot for hiking, fishing, and star gazing, get to the Gandy Creek Dispersed Camping area of the Mon National Forest. Most sites are creek side, have multiple fire rings, and room for a couple of tents. The rhododendron/laurel make it cool in the spring/summer. One of the best times to go is late July through August (although the creek will be low). The road is well maintained, and there is a vault toilet at the Johnny Meadows site. Pack in/pack out rules apply.
These sites take a while to get to but they are awesome. Each site is secluded and creek front. We stayed at the last site with the cliff over hang and it was magical. We took our car but the roads were a bit rough and I wouldn’t recommend anything too low to the ground. Several spots along the creek are deep enough for swimming.
The sods are a truly wild and remote place in an increasingly crowded East coast. For years Dolly Sods has been my go-to backcountry destination, even for chilly winter stays. Many places carry the “wilderness” moniker in the East, but this place lives up to it. No cell service, no car camping, no trail markers, no toilets, and no running water. It’s the real deal. During the off season you can hike for days and not see another person. There are some opportunities to camp closer to the trailhead for those only looking to dip a toe into wilderness travel, but you could hike for miles to a remote site as well. Be advised, a good physical map and compass, the skills needed to use them, are vital here. There are no trail marks and the path can be confusing. Come prepared and have a great adventure.
Many of the spots were taken when we arrived, even on a Tuesday night, but about 3-4 remained. We lucked out with a very spacious site right at the creek's edge. Towering pines lined the sight, and provided a gorgeous backdrop for the stars and fireflies at night.
This site I believe was two sites down from the one at the gigantic cliff carved up by the bend in the creek. That was my top choice, as the scenery was stunning, but it was taken. Our site, though, had a hidden waterfall across the creek. If you listen, you can hear the loud falls over the normal creek sounds. I noticed it as I was collecting firewood on the opposite shore, and felt some water about 20 degrees cooler than the creek joining from the mountains. I've included a picture of this waterfall.
The fire ring was wonderful. There are no toilets, so bring your shovel. Also, the sites are so spaced out on the road that each is very private, though you see an occasional car drive by.
We hiked up the Lafe Elza trail, about a 5 minute drive down the road. It was a perfectly nice hike, with options for days worth of hiking, though we turned back after 2 hours, not having seen much to note.
Dolly Sods is a wilderness area within the great Monongahela National Forest. I backpacked here in early March a few years ago. Definitely be prepared for high winds and rain. We hiked in in warm weather and once we reached the top of a long entrance road (where one trailhead was) we found snow. A lot of the snow had melted making the ground very soggy and oversaturated in some areas. Despite this, our short Dolly Sods backpacking trip was an amazing first trek for myself and a fiend. Dolly Sods is absolutely gorgeous and is a completely different and unique ecosystem than the surrounding area. I also have friends who have camped here later in the year - mid to late summer - and have highly, highly, recommended that I go back during that time.