Roaring Plains Circuit

 

 

Summer Photos

Fall Photos (Day 2 of Trip)

Sept/05 Photos

Description: This is a 12.5+ mile strenuous circuit hike on the Roaring Plains, Monongahela National Forest, WV utilizing portions of the South Prong Trail, Boar's Nest Trail, the Roaring Plains Trail, the Hidden Passage and the Roaring Creek and Long Run Canyon Rim Trails. The first two trails are established, maintained forest trails. The others are either bushwhack routes shown to us by Jonathan Jessup or discovered on our own.

 

Caution 1: This circuit is for experienced hikers only. Knowledge and use of a topo map, compass and/or GPS units are recommended.

 

During this trek you will walk through a variety of mountain environs ranging from deciduous to boreal forest with heath, sphagnum and grass bogs in between. You'll cross the south prong of Red Creek four times (It may be high and dangerous at times.), traverse numerous rock fields and view some of the most breathtaking landscape in WV.

 

Allow a minimum of 9 hours, including lunch and breaks, for this trip.

 

Caution 2: The weather on the Roaring Plains can change in the wink of an eye, even in the summer months. Be prepared for temperature extremes. During parts of this outing you will be totally exposed to the elements. High winds can be a dangerous issue at times.

 

Trailhead is on the south side of FR19 on a gravel road.

Google Custom Directions

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Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map!

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users

 

Trail Notes: From the parking area walk past the forest gate and follow the grassy road down to the South Prong of Red Creek. Cross the creek at 0.35 miles and turn left on an old RR grade, passing the first of many blue diamond blazes. Soon turn right, following the blazes, and climb steeply up a footpath to a higher RR grade. Turn left onto the grade and continue on. You will by-pass sections of the RR grade a couple of more times in this manner until you reach a long stretch of RR grade near the top of the mountain.

 

At about 2.8 miles from the first creek crossing, the trail crosses the creek again an follows another RR grade in the opposite direction. Turn right onto a footpath and arrive at FR 70 at 0.5 miles from the last stream crossing.

 

Cross the forest road and continue up the South Prong Trail for another 0.59 miles.

 

In a small meadow at the top the South Prong Trail will continue straight. There are two right hand turns here. The first leads to a nice campsite along a stream. It continues to intersect the second right turn after crossing the stream. If you take the second right turn the trail splits but comes together again in a meadow. Follow the Cairns. You are now on Jonathan Jessup’s “Hidden Passage” to the Roaring Plains. This is an unofficial trail but the tread has become more obvious with more frequent use.

 

Continue in a southerly direction toward a Rhododendron thicket on the other side of the meadow. There you will find an obvious path through the thicket, crossing a small stream as you go. On the other side of the thicket you will find yet another meadow. Look for the faint trail and cairns. You will still maintain a southerly course but you will be favoring the right side of the meadow until you enter a woods comprised mostly of birch and black cherry. The trail will bend to the left for a short distance until you are almost to the rim and then straighten out again. At 0.85 miles from the turnoff from the South Prong Trail arrive at the base of the ever popular “Meadows”. Cairns will direct you to a nice but dry and exposed campsite with partial views of the valley below.

Beyond this campsite is an obvious grassy jeep road. Follow this to the intersection with the Pipeline Swath. This is about 0.7 miles from where the “Hidden Passage” ended at the base of the “Meadows”.

 Turn left onto the Pipeline Swath and descend about 0.33 miles, cross a small stream and arrive at the remains of an old road that intersects the Pipeline. This is the beginning of Jonathan’s Canyon Rim Trail. If you feel up to a side trip stash your packs here and proceed down the Pipeline for another 0.2 miles or so until you see a cairn on the right directly across from a Forest boundary sign on the opposite side of the swath. This marks a trail out to a pretty nice overlook.

 

Return to the intersection of the old road. And turn left (if going up the swath) onto the old road. There is a dead tree with a blank sign mounted high on the trunk. This is the “iffiest” part of the hike.

 

Proceed down the road a short distance than turn right and cross a small stream. Skirt the edge of a small bog to your right. From here to the next overlook it is mostly an open woods bushwhack. Keep the rim or edge of the hill in sight and to your left and avoid any thickets to your right.

 

You will eventually arrive at a very large oak tree with multiple trunks near the beginning of another meadow/bog. Turn left here and head towards the rim. You will find a footpath that leads out to the canyon and another fantastic view. You’ll pass another multi-trunked tree on your right. From here to the turn-off at the Tee Pee Trail the path will be more obvious with cairns marking the way through several boulder fields. Stay close to the rim and you can’t get lost.

 

At about 0.6 miles from leaving the Pipeline you will cross Roaring Creek and pass red forest boundary blazes and a survey marker. Continue following the rim. Almost any side trail to the left is apt to lead you to a view of the surrounding area. At 0.6 miles from the creek crossing arrive at “The Point”, the intersection of Roaring Creek and Long Run Canyons. This is just about the mid-point of the hike and a great place for lunch. A quick excursion to the rocks out on the tip leads to the best views of the day: Smith Mountain, Four Knobs, North Fork Mountain, Shenandoah Mountain, Chimney Rocks, Champe Rocks, Seneca Rocks, Spruce Mountain, Hay Stack Knob and more can be observed from one spot by simply turning your head.

 

From “The Point” travel north-west along the rim, crossing more boulder fields and passing through alternating Rhododendron and heath thickets and stands of Red Spruce stopping for the views along the way. If you’re backpacking, there’s a nice established campsite with a fire ring sheltered by Red Spruce about 0.3 miles from “The point” but it is dry. There is one or two sites suitable for a tent or two just before this without fire rings. In another 1.1 miles arrive at the junction with the Tee Pee Trail at another established dry campsite with a fire ring. Turn right here and search for a faint hunter’s trail. It's not obvious at first since some unknowing hiker(s) used the markers to build the afore mentioned fire ring. Poke around in the Rhododendron until you find the trail. Proceed down the trail (North-east) until you reach a campsite with fire ring. Be wary of any side trails. Some are old deer trails while others were hacked out with machetes by lost hikers! The continuation of the trail is to the left of the campsite. Continue on until you reach a large heath thicket. The trail seems to disappear here but it is slightly to the right. As you push through the brush you can see the trail at your feet.

 

In about 0.54 miles from leaving the canyon rim you will arrive at a large flat rock with a cairn on top of it. In front of it is a wet sandy trail which is actually the headwaters of Roaring Creek AND an old RR bed. Turn left, walking upstream through the dense laurel, and quickly come to the intersection of the Roaring plains Trail. You are now back on official forest trails.

 

Turn right on the Roaring Plains Trail and travel 0.91 miles to its eastern terminus at the Pipeline Swath. FR 70 is just a little to the right. Walk down FR 70 for about 0.34 miles to the Boar’s Nest Trail. Turn left on the Boar’s Nest Trail and cross the South Prong for the third time. Climb a short distance to the top of Flat Rocks Plain and continue north on this well worn and sometimes very wet and muddy trail. Just as you start to descend there will be a rock outcrop to the left which offers fine views. On a clear day you can see Dolly Sods in the distance.

 

At about 1.3 miles from the last trail intersection you will descend steeply on what I like to call the Sliding Board. There have been a few switchbacks added but the going is still hard on the knees and feet. Towards the bottom the trail joins a railroad grade that follows the drainage of Camel Run to the final crossing of South Prong (about 1.2 miles from the start of your descent). Cross the creek and climb the bank on the other side. Pass through a small meadow and cross a RR grade. Climb steeply up the hill for 0.3 miles to your cars.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Read about our latest trip there.

Critique this outing!

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Name: Ben                                                                                                                    Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date: 05/25/14                                                                                                           Rating: 5

 

Critique: Over memorial day weekend I led a trip in Southern Dolly Sods and Roaring plains. We intended to take the hidden passage trail and hike all of the Canyon Rim, stopping at the large campsite where it meets the Roaring Plains Trail. Because we weren't making great time we decided to stop at the campsite at the Tee Pee trail. The Hidden Passage Trail was easy to follow. The canyon rim was generally not too difficult either. Having the GPS waypoints on my GPS helped. We took the Tee Pee trail back to the Roaring Plains trail. It was quite overgrown but somebody has put cairns along most of it so we were able to follow it without incident and get to the Roaring Plains Trail. The views along the canyon rim are just spectacular. If you bushwack to some rocks near the Tee Pee trail campsite you can get a great view to watch the sunset. The Tee Pee trail campsite itself was well sized and easily held 8 tents.

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Name: Bill                                                                                                                      Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

05/09/14                                                                                                                      Rating: 4

 

Critique: We followed the trail notes and they were quite helpful. This had to be one of the best hikes and worst hikes I've ever done in summer. The worst part was loosing the trail 1/2 way on the Tee Pee and ending up bushwhacking thru thick laurel to the pipeline. The trails are just not marked well. The rock and bog on the trail seemed to never end either. But the rest of the trail made up for it and more. There was truly a full range of experience and the views on the rim were fantastic. Campsites were all inviting and I am looking forward to doing it again. A map, compass and even a GPS are a must for this trail, this is not for novices. I would rate this trail very highly, thanks WV.

 

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Name: Bill Thomas                                                                                                      Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date(s): 08/11-13/13                                                                                               Rating: 5

 

Critique: What an amazing hike! Thanks for the trail notes and GPS route waypoints. Could not have done it without these two critical pieces of information. We left the parking lot mid afternoon and were at the nice campsite by the stream way before dark. What a beautiful place to spend a peaceful night. The next day we took our time and enjoyed the many excellent views on our way to the Tee-Pee campsite. We just about lost the trail just after getting off the pipeline swath -- "iffy" indeed! We filled up all our water at Roaring Run as a precaution, and good we did, as Tee-Pee was dry (until it rained late that night!). A nice campsite, but no views. Next time I will stop at the campsite just down the trail from “The Point”. Tee-Pee trail and the subsequent Roaring Plains Trail were very wet - basically like walking a stream all the way to the swath. Boar’s Nest Trail was also quite wet -- only dry part was on top! Last view is great, then a very steep descent. The last ford was wet, as we couldn't find any rocks to hop across. But after all that downhill, the water actually felt really good. And our cars were still there!! A great hike! But would have been much more challenging without the tools on this site. Thanks!!!!   

 

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Name: Tasha                                                                                                                Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date(s): 07/05-06/13                                                                                               Rating: 5

 

Critique: These directions were great and guided myself and 2 adventurous girlfriends almost seamlessly for an overnight backpacking trip. The "unofficial" trails are pretty well trodden by now and currently marked with cairns often enough for experienced hikers to follow fairly easily. The rocky terrain and steepness hiking down Boar's Nest Trail were rough on the knees, feet, ankles; however the views from the canyon rim were worth every step! Our trip was over a holiday weekend and we didn't see anyone else on the trail over the 2 days....a great alternative to the traffic in the Dolly Sods. Thanks so much for sharing the info!

 

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Name: Tom O'Donnell                                                                                                 Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 09/22/12                                                                                                           Rating: 5

Critique: I've got to say this is, hands down, the best hike on Roaring Plains. The trails are all in excellent shape except there is currently a large blow-down on the South Prong trail that requires a hands and knees crawl to get under with a pack.
The infamous Tee Pee Trail is becoming more distinct with each passing year and I had little difficulty following it this time. There are some strategically placed cairns that help a lot. The trail is hemmed in close with laurel, but the footway is pretty distinct. However, it still requires attention to stay on the trail.


Thanks to someone who cut out some bad blowdowns on the Canyon Rim Trail. Those would have been some bad spots to negotiate! The really rocky footway on this section is probably the most tiring part of the hike, but the views make it all worth it.
I had previously done all of the pieces of this circuit at different times, but had never done it as a complete hike. Total time on the trail was almost exactly 9 hrs.


Surprisingly I had the most trouble of the day finding the path to the rocks for the view of the South Prong, the rhododendron wall is really thick there. Look for the many-branched tree.

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Name: Jeff                                                                                                                     Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 10/21/11-10/23/11                                                                                        Rating: 5+

Critique: Amazing hike, I appreciate all of your hard work putting this page and hike together.  I won't lie and say it was easy but my buddies and I found all the trails, including the infamous tee pee trail. Your directions were invaluable and the trails were just as you described.   We put an extra cairn in the campsite where the tee pee trail intersects the canyon overlook trail at the campsite as we had a little bit of difficulty finding it for a minute.  My only regret for the whole trip was when we walked out on the canyon overlook trail, it was fogged in, I can only imagine what that must look like on a clear day.  When my knees forgive me for this trip, I definitely plan to go back.  Thanks for everything, it was probably the best trip I have ever been on and certainly an amazing adventure.

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Name: Steve Appler                                                                                                    Hike: Hybrid - Roaring Plains Circuit-modified
Date: 10.8.11                                                                                                                Rating: 5

Critique: October 7th 9th, 2011

My brother Greg, my son Austin and I just enjoyed a backpacking trip using mostly the trail described here as the MNF-Roaring Plains/Hidden Passage/Canyon Rim Loop, but we didnt turn off at the Tee Pee Trail, but instead followed the Canyon Rim Trail all the way to its junction with the Roaring Plains Trail before returning on the Roaring Plains Trail route.

This was an arduous backpack trip and for those who would prefer to enjoy the spectacular views without the chore carrying a heavy pack through some very difficult terrain I would suggest setting up a base camp as described in Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike and make the Canyon Rim Trail a day hike. M.R.Hyker suggested that to me, but I had to try it.

We reached the western end of the South Prong Trail (also the FR19 end of the Boars Nest Trail) about 5:15pm on Friday and started hiking down the South Prong Trail at 5:35pm. I had not thoroughly read the hike description on this site. Don't make that same mistake. Instead, I followed the trails that came with my Garmin GPS. We got into big trouble. We turned left before reaching the South Fork of Red Creek (this was the mistake) and followed what we thought was the South Prong Trail for some time before it disappeared. (Disappearing trails was to be a frequent theme for this whole weekend trip). We knew we needed to eventually ford the creek, so we bushwhacked our way down a very steep slope through very dense laurel thickets until we reached the creek, crossed without much difficulty and then had to contend with even more dense thickets on the other side. Eventually, we struggled up that steep slope and found a very faint South Prong Trail. By now it was getting dark and we donned our headlamps. We crossed FR70 in the dark and found a group of cars parked there. Ive backpacked there numerous times over the last 20 years and have usually found the gate to FR70 to be locked at FR19, so dont count on driving down this road for a short-cut. We climbed the steep slope up to where there is a great streamside campsite (as described in MNF-Roaring Plains/Hidden Passage/Canyon Rim Loop) and we kept moving on. Very shortly after that we located (actually, my GPS located it and I was damn happy about that) the intersection with the Hidden Passage Trail. I had downloaded the trip coordinates from this site which were extremely helpful throughout the trip since trails were constantly disappearing. (We ran into some hunters training their dogs to hunt bear who said that there were 9 of snow up there the week before and that had obscured many trails by beating down grass and foliage over the trails).


We followed the Hidden Passage Trail (generally) for awhile until we simply lost it. By this time it was about 9:00pm and we decided to give up on the trail and just walk straight to the waypoint of our campsite destination. That wasnt easy since theres a lot of spruce in the way, but we emerged into a semi-meadow area where we found a trail and finally a spectacular site with moonlit views of about 180 degrees. We set up camp and we collapsed. It was about 10:30pm.

We woke to an extremely beautiful scene. Mountaintops far below us rose above mists in the valleys. The leaves were near their colorful peak. The cranberries and blueberries were fiery red and the sunrise lit this spectacular scene magnificently. In my 30+ years of backpacking this was among the most impressive campsites I've experienced. My thanks to M.R. Hyker for bringing this (among many other great trips) to my attention.

We packed up in the morning and enjoyed an easy hike through very Dolly Sods-like plains cranberry & blueberry low-growing brush with grasses and low laurel thickets interspersed with spruce groves until we arrived at the pipeline where we turned left. We delayed making our turn onto the Canyon Rim Trail so that we could enjoy the overlook we found at the top of the pipeline rise. Then we turned back and turned left into the Canyon Rim Trail. Or, so we thought.

If you read the trip description here you will read that the Canyon Rim Trail is the most difficult trail to find. That is VERY true. First, do not follow the obvious trail through an established streamside campsite and down the mountain. Its seductive, but its wrong. We only missed doing that because my son, Austin, pointed out that going down just didnt match the topo there. We then widely and systematically scoured the area looking for any sign of trail and found nothing. (There was another hiker who was looking for that dead tree with a sign in it as described on this site that tree must have fallen down. We met him a long time later coming in from the other direction because he could not find the trail). We had just decided to give up finding the trail and to simply bushwhack our way from GPS waypoint to waypoint starting with a small meadow when the aforementioned hunters came through the meadow towards us. We asked if they knew where the trail was and they responded that we were on it. That's when we learned that the previous weeks snow had caused many mountain trails to be obscured. Once we made our way across the meadow we found and lost the trail numerous times in the dense laurel thickets. We followed the advice of the hunters and MidAtlanticHikes.com and kept the canyon rim close on our left and this worked fine, though the hiking here with packs was exceptionally difficult in the brush and with the constant, though gradual ascent.

There are spectacular overlooks all along the Canyon Rim Trail. The Point is especially beautiful and wide ranging. There were so many views that we started to pass some by and others provided wonderful excuses to remove our loads and to spread ourselves on the cool rocks in the warm sun. It was glorious weather.

We passed a couple nice campsites along the rim, too, though none had the open views of our first nights site. We came across a long section where we had to jump from rock to rock to stay on trail. Thank you to each of you who placed the cairns along that path or we could possibly still be there. That section seemed endless and the trail promptly disappeared again on the western end.
We never noticed where the Canyon Rim Trail met the Tee Pee Trail, but we found the dry campsite that was mentioned there. We knew we were nearing our destination for the night at the junction of the Canyon Rim Trail and the Roaring Plains Trail and since that area was said to be dry we chose to pump water from a small spring under a rock near the dry campsite. We could actually hear the water running behind the rocks. M.R.Hyker had warned me that the water was dirty there, but it looked clear. Of course, he was right and it clogged my filter even through my pre-filter. I found the same thing back in June when I pumped water out of Red Creek down near The Forks. There's some kind of mineral in that water that just clogs filters badly. We got enough water to get by, though, and kept on going.

We collapsed on one more rock outcropping and not long after leaving there stomped through a bog at the edge of some clearings in the spruce and followed the trail up a gentle grade until we finally made it to the trail junction where we found about 20-30 tents already set up. Apparently there was a Washington Backpacking club who came in via the Roaring Plains Trail. There was plenty of room for us, though, and we set up on the edge of the camp with a nice overlook of the valley to the southwest.

The wind howled all night. Over the years Ive found that is typical of most of the Dolly Sods and the Roaring Plains area. We camp in hammocks, so we got a nice rocking motion all night. That is, when we didnt feel like we were being blown out of the trees. We packed up late Sunday morning, doubled back to the Roaring Plains Trail which was our first clearly marked trail of the weekend. It was well blazed and wide open. As a matter of curiosity we found that end of the Tee Pee Trail as we passed by. There were colored flags hanging in the laurel there and my GPS confirmed we were at that junction. We stayed on the Boars Nest Trail, descended, found the pipeline and turned right, and shortly after that came to the end of FR70 onto which we turned left. There were about 10 cars parked there which we passed and shortly afterward we turned left onto the Boars Nest Trail.

The Boars Nest Trail is well marked, wide open and from FR70 climbs steeply for short time before leveling out. There are some great views across the open mountains, meadows, more spruce groves, more laurel thickets and brilliantly lit deciduous forest all around us. Then, we began the painful descent back into the South Fork of the Red Creek valley that lasted more than a mile. I had photography equipment and my load was much weightier than I prefer. Going downhill hurt. We finally made it to the creek and rested. Then we turned our sights to that last very steep climb back to the car. We headed out to Seneca Creek to eat badly and drink great beer in celebration of one more excellent trip.

I'm going back there, but next time I'm going to alter my route and trim my load back to my normal almost ultra light weight. I like long distance backpacking trips, but this trip was long, difficult and with a heavy backpack it wasn't as easy to enjoy the magnificent sites as it would be with a lighter daypack. I'll probably make base camp near where we spent our first night this trip, take the Canyon Rim Trail (now that I know how to find it) as a day trip, turn off at the Tee Pee Trail (if I can find that end of it), turn right onto the Roaring Plains Trail and when I reach the pipeline turn right and walk the mile back up the pipeline until I turn left onto the Hidden Passage Trail and back to camp. Look for me there in a few weeks.

 

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Name: Dave Barry                                                                                                        Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 1010/09                                                                                                              Rating: 2

Critique: The Canyon Rim Trail could be a great experience. However, we missed a least three trail junctions (tee pee in particular) and were in a somewhat dangerous position for half a day because of it. The trip ended late with a trip leader with a wrenched knee and gashes on his face (from a fall) and two participants who would not try it again. The poor trail documentation and rugged terrain are a dangerous combination.

Big Suggestion for the all trail descriptions - give compass headings and distances. For instance, the instruction for finding the tee pee trail is something like "starts behind the campsite a short distance into the laurel thicket". A much more effective description would be something like "about 150 yards NW (300 degrees) of the fire ring". By the way the thicket is actually small pine trees.

We greatly appreciate the huge effort involved in MidAtlantic and the wonderful hikes it documents. The GPS tracks will be increasingly useful as more of us obtain that equipment.

 

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Name: Paul Fofonoff                                                                                                     Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 10/10-11/2009                                                                                                  Rating: 5

Critique: I led a trip to Roaring Plains for the DC Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club on Columbus Day Weekend. It turned out to be the most spectacular but also the most strenuous hiking that I've done in Mid-Atlantic region, comparable in roughness and dramatic views to some of the roughest trails in New England, and except in altitude, to some of the rougher trails in the West. We followed Mike's route up to the Tee Pee Trail, which we hunted for but could find no trace. We considered a bushwhack, but instead continued rockwhacking along the Canyon Rim, following the cairns through a seemingly endless boulder field. Throughout the route, we had to stop periodically to look for paths or cairns. We were lucky to have good weather for most of the trip, as clouds lifted on Saturday afternoon, but rocks and leaves remained slippery, especially on the Boars Nest Trail (the 'Sliding Board'). This is one of those trips where you tell yourself 'Never Again' the day after, and then start thinking about returning as the aches and scratches start to heal, when you look at memories and pictures. Mike, thanks, for getting us out there!

 

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Name: Sara Bird                                                                                                            Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 09/05-06/009                                                                                                    Rating: 5

Critique: Challenging, but well worth it. Spent the night just northwest of the point. Map and trail descriptions were just enough to keep us on trail for the most part. Internal sense of direction didn't hurt, but clearly didn't help when getting lost on Tee-Pee trail. Trail was marked with flags, but missed a crucial right hand turn through some boggy area and ended up in open but barely navigable field of heath thickets. Backtracked saw the missed flag and were able to continue on out to Roaring Plains trail with only minimal head scratching. Breaked for sustenance and wit-gathering at the site of the old "teepee" What's the backstory here? Anyone?
(M.R. Hyker Note: There is/was an old hunter's canvas tee-pee standing back in the woods that you could see from the edge of the small campsite in a thicket. I think it has fallen down since I last hiked it.) Thanks for the route and I know I'll do it again soon.

 

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Name: Jeff Slahor                                                                                                         Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 10/18-10/21 2007                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: Gotten back into backpacking in the last decade and covered a fair amount of the Mon Nat Forest along with other trips east of the Miss.  This was clearly one of the greatest I've done to date.  It was fairly easy to jump trail, miss connections, etc. but between the three of us we were able to put one complete brain together and complete the loop.  Relatively short but a good work out both physically and mentally. Kudos to the keeper of this website for extremely accurate information.  Thanks.

 

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Name: Jeff                                                                                                                      Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit

Date: October 6, 2007                                                                                                 Rating: 4.5

Critique: My brother, son and I took the entire loop described here in one long day hike.  Although I consider our route finding abilities pretty good we did manage to get confused a couple of times (not lost).  At first we missed the 'right turn and cross a small stream' and started heading downhill before realizing our mistake.  Soon after we wandered away from the rim following a sort of trail then had a knock down drag out fight with thickets to get back to the rim.  My brother climbed a tree to scout out the most feasible way through the thick thicket.  My brother led us through very nicely on the Teepee Trail.  On my own I think I would have gotten all mixed up here.  The first large flat rock with a cairn on it that we came to was not the place to turn left on a sandy trail.  A second large flat rock without a cairn was the place to turn left.  I was surprised how mucky this trail was during a dry October, must be an incredible mess during a wet Spring.  The succession of viewpoints on this hike were fantastic.  Only the short ugly stretch on the Pipeline Swath kept me from giving a rating of 5.

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Name: Brendt Jacobsen                                                                                              Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 6/30/07-7/3/07                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: Excellent, challenging hike!  As other posters have ventured, the Tee Pee Trail is a trail in name only.  The only way to follow it was with a GPS with route mapping or following the foot prints on the ground.   However, the views and scenery are excellent and well worth the walk up the mountain.  Last camp site on the Roaring Plains circuit by the gas line is a little to be desired.  It wasn't bad for us, but if it rains or it is warm enough for skeeters, you might want to rethink your camp spot as the site sits in a swampy low level bog.

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Name: M&C Anderson                                                                                                  Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: 7/2006 and 6/2007                                                                                           Rating: 5

Critique: I'd like to offer some thoughts on the Tee Pee bushwhack, which is an important but not critical tool for traveling in this wonderful corner of wild West Virginia. This isn't a "trail" and should not be interpreted as such. It is hard to find and hard to follow. Indeed, it is nothing more than a meandering, old, stubborn tread that, if it is found, can be used to hasten an exit from the canyons rim area. Think of it as a bushwhacking aide in that it allows penetration into otherwise impenetrable terrain. It's short enough that getting lost would take some doing, but it also should not be mistaken for a trail where the route is rational or obvious. If you can't find it, don't worry too much because you can continue along the rim and climb over some incredible boulder fields before running into the official forest service trail a bit to the west.

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Name: John Truslow                                                                                                     Hike: Roaring Plains
Date: June 8-11, 2007                                                                                                 Rating: 5

Critique: Fantastic place! I love this area more each time I go.

We hiked from the upper (Eastern) South Prong trailhead to a base camp near the beginning of the Hidden Passage. A fierce storm blew in just before dinner with deafening thunder, hard rain and strong winds -- a humbling but enjoyable experience.

After a night of Roaring Winds, we day-hiked the Hidden Passage and Canyon Rim trails with little confusion and only occasional head-scratching.

Then came the Tee Pee trail. We had some trouble even finding it (a tiny bit of flagging tape), and even more trouble staying on it due to the many game and lost hiker side-trails. Then at the "flat rock with cairn" we got confused, explored each of the possible paths and picked the wrong one -- the "obvious" path/stream headed right and followed it into a large boggy area. Beautiful, but not the best hiking. Realizing our error, we bushwhacked our way around the bog and back to the trail -- a long and tedious detour through the laurel and rhodo thickets. I know why they're called THICKets.

Once back on Roaring Plains Trail, the rest of the circuit was uneventful with much conversation about our missed waypoint.

The next day, we followed Roaring Plains Trail back to the area of the missed Tee-Pee Trail junction -- and proceeded to walk right past it. Backtracking, we came to a water bar with a cairn and tiny piece of flagging tape. Exploring 100 yards down the "stream" at the water bar, we came to a familiar flat rock.

Now comes a confession. Not knowing that the trail notes on this site mention "a large flat rock with a cairn on top" we proceeded to re-cairn the junction to hopefully clarify things. To us, the cairn appeared to lead you straight forward through the junction rather than a hard-left turn. (Note: if passable, straight ahead is even closer (70 yards?) to the main trail than the left turn up the stream. We did not explore this option.)

We moved the cairn closer to the trail and doubled-up to signify a turn. We also placed another cairn (at some distance, but within sight) in each of the proper directions. It made better sense to us, and we were proud to help the next folks though a tricky area.

Then we discovered these trail notes and our well-intentioned act seemed more like vandalism. Many apologies if we have caused any confusion. I'm considering another trip to replace the missing cairn, but welcome opinions.

Either way, Beware the Tee-Pee Trail and take a hard left at the large flat rock.

We'll be back!

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Name: Jim Kirk                                                                                                            Hike: Roaring plains
Date: many times                                                                                                       Rating: 5

Critique: If you haven't had enough cool rocky terrain after the canyon rim, follow it to the end where it intersects Roaring Plains Trail.

Make a left on Roaring Plains and go out and check out the cool rock hunting blind on the rise there where Roaring Plains meets Flatrock, Then come back and camp there at the nice camping area you have already passed thru where Canyon Rim meets Roaring plains.

The next day head back toward the pipeline on Roaring plains trail. On your left there's a trail cut off marked by a peice of iron stove or something surrounded by little rocks. This trail leads out a ridge weaving in and out of the woods and rocky outcroppings like Canyon Rim ending up at the microwave tower road that connects to the pipeline. If you still have time hand a left on the pipeline and looking for cairns on your right at about 25 to 50 yards and go down over the hill to Camel Rocks. Good view. You can see the bushwhack rock outcrop off of Boars Nest from there!

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Name: Paul Wilcox                                                                                                        Hike: Roaring Plains Circuit
Date: May 10-15                                                                                                           Rating: 5

Critique: An amazing hike.  Makes a great 5 day trip if you add the Dolly Sods Circumnavigation to it.  However, beware of the Tee Pee trail.

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Name: Paul Senstad                                                                                                     Hike: Roaring Plains
Date: 5-07-07                                                                                                               Rating: 5

Critique: it would be very hard to find any fault with this truly awesome trail! However, I could not find the Tee Pee trail, although I never saw or overlooked the hunters campsite. I just kept following the cairns and orange tape and found myself at the far western end of the Roaring Plains trail. I hope to hike this again. Thank you for a great great hiking trail!

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Peter L.                                                                                                                           Hike: Roaring Plains
Date: April 28, 2007                                                                                                     Rating: 4.5

Critique: Definitely a great backpacking locale. I will have to do it again with better weather. We hiked in Friday evening to the intersection of the Hidden Passage and South Prong Trail. We camped along a stream there and the weather promptly turned sour. It rained lightly off and on during the night and the wind picked up. I now know how the Roaring Plains got its name. Saturday was socked in, overcast and cold. The temps stayed in the mid-40s for most of the day. The trail was as described and easy to follow for the most part. I used the provided waypoints in my GPS device, which ended up saving the day. T
he Tee Pee trail is definitely the sketchiest part of the hike; once the trail runs into the laurel thickets, it becomes very difficult to follow. There are numerous deer trails that scatter off the 'main' trail. If we didn't have a GPS, we'd probably still be stuck in the thickets. I would advise adding more detail about negotiating this stretch of the trail. Overall a wonderful place and I plan on returning when there is better weather so I can enjoy the views.

 

M.R.Hyker Note: I'll let your comment stand as a warning about the Tee Pee Trail.

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Name: Jonathan Jessup                                                                                              Hike: Roaring Plains Canyon Trail
Date: 8/20/2005                                                                                                          Ranking: 5

Critique: This is just one of those hikes that takes your breath away. It requires a high skill level though. Be careful up there and take caution. Study the map! Mike thanks for your wonderful web site! Your journeys in the wilds are a life changing practice! To be in nature for as long as you have is to realize inner peace.

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