Our Dolly Sods Mapping Project: High Plains
See Map Conventions for an explanation of the map features.
Updated August 2005
This area begins with the Blackbird Knob trail on the south and extends north
to Raven Ridge and Bear Rocks. The area is a mixture of open grasslands, bogs,
and isolated forests. With the open grasslands, there are a large number of trails
that cross this area. Most of the trails are stitched together sections of old
railroad grades, old jeep roads, and animal trails. All names listed are the new
Forest Service names as shown on the newly installed signs.
It is our hope that people will attempt to use existing trails and minimize the
creation of new trails. Just like high alpine areas, the vegetation does not grow back quickly after being walked on.
- Blackbird Knob Trail (No. 511) [4.3 miles]
The Blackbird Knob Trail crosses the entire Dolly Sods area from the Red Creek
on the east to Cabin Mountain and the junction of FR 80, Big Stonecoal Run Trail, and
Breathed Mountain Trail on the west. It provides
connections to Upper Red Creek
Trail, Red Creek Trail, Harmon Trail, and Rocky Ridge Trail.
The western end of the trail is an old jeep road running north from FR 80 and Big
Stonecoal Run Trail. Shortly, the trail turns east at the junction with
the Rocky Ridge Trail. Make sure to follow the route shown and
don't turn off on
one of the side jeep trails. Each of the branches is properly noted with a brown, fiberglass-wand, "trail" sign. The jeep trail becomes a path as it leaves the open
and descends toward Harmon Trail and Left Fork of Red Creek.
When ascending from
Left Fork of Red Creek, Blackbird Knob Trail veers to the left at the Harmon Trail
sign. As of August 2005, Harmon Trail is marked, but
Blackbird Knob Trail is unmarked except for a cairn.
- Upper Red Creek Trail (No. 509) [1.3 miles]
This trail from Blackbird Knob Trail to Dobbin Grade Trail is easy to find at the
but more difficult to follow in the middle and southern portions. Coming from the
north, look for the Forest Service single post trail markers as the trail enters
the saddle area north of Blackbird Knob. At this point
jeep trail (which you do not want) heads west over the ridge toward Left Fork
of Red Creek. The Upper Red
narrows and heads
straight toward Blackbird Knob and then turns abruptly left (southeast). The
trail then descends below a beaver dam and shortly intersects the Blackbird Knob
The Forest Service has installed plenty of single post trail markers
at all the questionable points along this trail.
- Harmon Trail (No. 525) [1.4 miles]
This trail is the former core hole road constructed and then "obliterated" for
the Nature Conservancy. The cores were drilled to determine the value of any
at various points under Dolly Sods North. The Forest Service has used the name
historically given to the old jeep road on the crest of Cabin Mountain, so be wary
of which Harmon Trail is being used on maps and in communications. Since this
trail was recently constructed by earth movers, it is easy to follow.
- Rocky Ridge Trail (No. 524) [3.0 miles]
This trail runs from Blackbird Knob Trail to Raven Ridge. Find more description on
- Dobbin Grade Trail (No. 526) [4.3 miles]
Dobbin Grade is the historical name for the old logging railroad grade that starts
in the Mount Storm Lake area, crosses Dobbin Slashings, and curves around to Left
Fork of Red Creek. The current trail runs from Rocky Ridge Trail on the crest of
Cabin Mountain, crosses Left Fork of Red Creek, climbs and descends to Red Creek,
and then follows Red Creek north to Bear Rocks Trail. Beyond this point, the
railroad grade enters private property. Since this trail is railroad grade and
jeep road, it is very easy to follow.
- Bear Rocks Trail (No. 522) [2.4 miles]
The first part of Bear Rocks Trail is an old jeep trail which runs from just south
of the Bear Rocks parking lot
to Dobbin Grade Trail. From here west, the trail is much narrower and less obvious.
It crosses Dobbin Grade and then crosses Red Creek. The trail
ascends the first part of the ridge on a prepared trail with waterbars. Right at
the top of this shoulder, Bear Rocks Trail turns abruptly right, leaving an ATV
track which continues straight ahead. As of October 2004, the Forest Service had
erected a single post trail sign at this corner. The path through the woods is
relatively obvious, but goes through two very wet areas. At the deep, but relatively
dry drainage, the trail
turns abruptly uphill, paralleling the drainage for a short distance, and then
diverging left. Shortly the trail becomes more obvious and crests Raven Ridge with
spectacular views in all directions. Once on the ridge, this trail is easy to follow.
The trail ends at a saddle on Raven Ridge Trail. There is a sign at this intersection.
- Raven Ridge (No. 521) [about 2.9 miles]
This jeep trail follows Raven Ridge and leads to multiple trails in the center-north
high plains area. As of October 2004, neither end of this trail has a trail sign. The
Forest Service plans to build a trail on their property to replace the western end of
the existing jeep road on private property (perhaps 0.5 miles of trail).
The western end of the trail is a jeep road which gets less and less traffic
the further east one travels. Shortly after the intersections with Beaver View
Trail and Bear
Rocks Trail, the jeep tracks are fading and replaced with narrower ATV track. From
Bear Rocks Trail south to Dobbin Grade Trail, the trail is just an ATV track.
There are signs for both Bear Rocks and Beaver View Trails.
To find the southeast end of Raven Ridge Trail, look for the single, small
cairn on Dobbin Grade Trail approximately midway between the Upper Red Creek
Trail sign and the Red Creek stream crossing. Depending upon the season, the
ATV track going up the hill toward the lone aspen tree is also visible.
- Beaver View Trail (No. 523) [1.2 miles]
This trail is a fairly recent ATV track (perhaps 10 years old). It leaves Dobbin
Grade Trail next to a tree partially blocking Dobbin Grade Trail (with a sign) at the crest
of the ridge. As of summer 2005, a section of the trail near Dobbin Grade Trail seems to have lost two single post trail signs. As indicated on the map, the trail stays up on the ridge and does not descend to the drainage to the northeast.
- Beaver Dam Trail (No. 520) [0.7 miles]
This trail is another fairly recent ATV track. It leaves Dobbin
Grade Trail where the beaver have built a massive pond using the railroad grade as
the dam. The trail climbs the hill following a stream to FS 75.
- Left Fork Red Creek Railroad Grade
This railroad grade (shown in red) is an extension of Dobbin Grade. It dead ends in
the boggy area
north of the
Dobbin Grade Trail. The railroad grade continues south through boggy areas toward
Knob Trail. There are
extensive hunting and camping paths north of Blackbird Knob Trail at the Left Fork
to the railroad grade.