October 12, 2018
We were anxious to take a drive in our new 2019 Subaru Forester. It was sitting in the garage with only 30 miles on it.
Early/Mid-October is prime time for fall colors in West Virginia. We decided to load up the car and head to
Blackwater Falls and Dolly Sods up in the mountains.
(From Wikipedia) : The "Great Falls" of Blackwater River drop about 62 feet at the head of Blackwater Canyon. The major ledge is composed of Connoquenessing Sandstone of the Middle Pottsville Formation. The Falls are usually cited as the highest above-ground falls (there are higher cave falls) in the state. A rocky prominence near the center of the Falls divides its waters into a distinctive formation, rendering its images instantly recognizable. In winter, the Falls often ice over completely. A broad trail descends about 320 feet from the Falls parking lot to a wooden walkway and overlook, while a much steeper trail extends beyond to the basin below the Falls. On the opposite (east) side of the river, a longer trail ("Gentle Trail") also accesses the Falls from a higher vantage point.
Today, the falls were overflowing due to the heavy rain the day before. We could hear the "thunder" as soon as we opened the doors in the car up in the parking lot.
We got our fitness workout today on the steps down to the falls and back up to the car.
Our favorite photo spot at the falls.
After taking in all the beauty of Blackwater Falls, it was time to head south about 20 miles to Dolly Sods.
(From Wikipedia): Dolly Sods is a rocky, high-altitude plateau with sweeping vistas and lifeforms normally found much farther north in Canada. To the north, the distinctive landscape of "the Sods" is characterized by stunted ("flagged") trees, wind-carved boulders, heath barrens, grassy meadows created in the last century by logging and fires, and sphagnum bogs that are much older. To the south, a dense cove forest occupies the branched canyon excavated by the North Fork of Red Creek.
The name derives from an 18th-century German homesteading family — the Dahles — and a local term for an open mountaintop meadow — a "sods".
Dolly Sods is the highest plateau east of the Mississippi River with altitudes ranging from 2,644 ft. (806 m) at the outlet of Red Creek to 4,123 ft. (1,257 m) at the top of the eastern edge mountain ridge on the Allegheny Front. Much of the high plateau section lies at nearly 4,000 ft.(1,220 m) elevation. Prominent summits within the Wilderness are Coal Knob (3,766 ft (1,148 m)), Breathed Mountain (3,848 ft (1,173 m)), and Blackbird Knob (3,960 ft (1,210 m)).
In 1943 and '44, as part of the West Virginia Maneuver Area, the U.S. Army used the area as a practice artillery and mortar range and maneuver area before troops were sent to Europe to fight in World War II. Cabin Mountain and Blackbird Knob served as designated targets. Some of the artillery and mortar shells (60 mm and 81 mm rounds) shot into the area still exist there.
Red Creek is one of many passing through the Dolly Sods area.
You can see here that many of the trees that did change color lost their leaves, and many have not even changed yet.
Still - a beautiful area!
Soon, we turned onto FR75 that heads north to Red Creek Campground and Bear Rocks.
The Forester was not even breaking a sweat. Lots of ground clearance and AWD made us comfortable.
This road reminded us of back-country travel in Alaska.
Soon, we pulled off to the overlook facing east towards Petersburg.
Somewhere out there is Virginia.
Next stop was Bear Rocks. (Barely visible to the upper right)
After a short hike we were rewarded with this spectacular view from Bear Rocks.
OK, we had to pose for a photo to prove we were really here.
What you can't see is the cold, strong wind that was trying to blow us backwards over the cliff!
The vegetation and view take you 1,000 miles north.
Since it was about 2:30 and we still had over a hundred miles to drive yet, we decided to head down off Dolly Sods.
Next was a quick stop at Seneca Rocks Discovery Center.
Seneca Rocks. Looks like the fall colors haven't arrived here quite yet. Maybe in a week or two.
For those of you not familiar with Seneca Rocks, it is what they call a "Razorback".
Even though it looks large from here (900 feet high), from the side, the top is only about 10-20 feet wide.
As we were looking at the rocks, we noticed two climbers nearing the summit of the 900-foot face.
Look closely at the center of the photo and you will see one in red pants and red helmet.
The other is hidden in the shade of the crevasse.
Little closer view of the climbers.
I prefer the 1.5-mile trail, thank you.
Well, we didn't see as many fall colors as we were expecting. Seeing so many trees at higher elevations that were totally bare of leaves, we guess that they may have turned, but the storm the previous day may have blown all those leaves off. The trees at lower elevations were still mostly green and just beginning to change. Maybe they will be ready in a week or two. Oh well - that's a good excuse for another road trip!
We also enjoyed the maiden voyage of our new 2019 Subaru Forester. Even though it's just the base model, it had all the nice features (and more) that we need. It was quiet, smooth, solid, and comfortable. It has over 8-1/2 inches of ground clearance, so the gravel roads were no worry. We also averaged 30.5 MPG on the trip.
Very happy so far!
See you on our next road trip!!!