Dolly Sods Wilderness: Dolly Sods North Loop Day 1 – Part 1

My husband and I enjoyed our first trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness so much, we were itching to go back and explore the area more. Since we had been to the southern half, we decided to go to the northern part of the area where all the picturesque sandstone boulders are – the Dolly Sods North loop.

It was late August and there were many wildflowers blooming. There were more varieties than there were in early August.

Spotted Knapweed

Spotted Knapweed, or Centaurea maculosa, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms in fields and along roadsides from June to August. Native to eastern Europe, it was introduced to North America in the 1800s, likely through contaminated seeds. It grows throughout North America now and is considered an invasive species and noxious weed in many places.

When researching this flower I was shocked to read this because it is so pretty.


Silver-rod, White Goldenrod, or Solidago bicolor, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms in thin woods and clearings from July to October. A native plant, it grows throughout the eastern half of North America.

Flat-topped White Aster

Flat-topped White Aster, or Doellingeria umbellata, is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae). A native flower, it grows throughout eastern North America and blooms August to September. It favors moist thickets and meadows, as well as swamp edges. They can grow 2 to 7 feet tall. I was able to identify this Aster from others because (1) the color; (2) the flower cluster is relatively flat on top; and (3) the elongated flat leaves with smooth edges.

These Asters were common throughout Dolly Sods North.

Closed Gentian

Closed Gentian, Bottle Gentian, or Gentiana andrewsii, is a member of the Gentian family (Gentianaceae) and blooms in sandy, coastal areas, as well as saline to freshwater marshes from May to October. A native wildflower, it grows throughout north eastern North America.

We found these growing in a couple places by freshwater streams and marshy areas.


And all these flowers were found within the first mile or two from the trailhead! As you can imagine, our going was a little slow as I was snapping away all these pictures, but that was fine. The goal for the day was to hike 6 miles to the campsite just over halfway along the loop. We had time.

Continue to Part 2

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