There was much more nature to enjoy along the Dolly Sods North loop. About a mile in, there was a lovely field filled with different kinds of Goldenrod wildflowers.
Tall Goldenrod, or Solidago altissima, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms in thickets and clearings August to November. A native plant it grows throughout most of North America. These Goldenrods can grow to be two to seven feet tall. Tall Goldenrod grows in large colonies.
Just after the field of Goldenrods, we crossed a creek that had the characteristic reddish-brown color that most rivers in Dolly Sods have. I expect this tributary feeds into Red Creek.
There was one campsite next to the water here.
For the next two miles or so we passed through open meadows with some great views.
There are two different campsites that you can find – one along Bear Creek Trail between the junctions for Dobbins Glade Trail and Ravens Ridge Trail, another one after on Ravens Ridge Trail. Neither of these campsites have access to water, nor wood to make campfires, but they do have wide open sky views. We noted these places as useful in the future for when we want to take pictures of the night sky and Milky Way.
About four miles in, after turning on to Rocky Ridge Trail, we came across the beautiful vistas full of sandstone boulders that Dolly Sods is famous for.
It was lunchtime by the time we arrived at the area and there were many people around. It seems like most people come for a day hike – no one we saw there had camping gear.
Even through it’s busy, there are plenty of boulders and the area stretches for some distance, meaning you can find some boulders to rest on or take pictures from, in any case.
In some places you can see down into a valley and the mountains beyond. It’s a unique and memorable location. I highly recommend a visit!