Roaring Plains circuit (West Virginia – June 11, 2017)
The 4000ft plus plateau of Roaring Plains, within the West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest, is always a fun place to hike: heath meadows, dark forest, Christmas card shape spruce trees, scenic creeks and flowers galore (in season, April is the best month) keep the interest quotient soaring high. About a month ago, I attempted this hike but barely got started since I got balked by a difficult ford of the South Prong of Red Creek, a mere half mile in. It was high time to make a return trip to it.
Route: South Prong Trail > Hidden Passage Trail > Canyon Rim Trail > Teepee Trail > Roaring Plains Trail > Boar's Nest Trail
Hiking/photography stats: 13mi, 2400ft gain, 9.5hrs
Total trip time: 16.25 hours
I began my hike at 6am, start from the South Prong trailhead. The crossing of the South Prong of Red Creek was a common rock hop, no need to even take off my boots. It was amazing that this was what had stymied me merely a month ago. Unfortunately, the extremely low water level meant that Red Creek wasn't its usual scenic self condition; I did not even stop to take a photo.
The South Prong Trail made a gradual ascent towards the plateau's top. Just shy of the top, it made one more trivial crossing of Red Creek. This time I did stop for a photo.
As I transited from the South Prong Trail to the Hidden Passage Trail, the scenery on the hike began to be dominated by colorful wild laurel thickets. Most of the flowers were about a week from blooming, but the color was still pretty awesome.
The Hidden Passage dumped me out onto the gas pipeline swath that cuts it way down the mid of the plains. I took a left onto the grassy trail and ambled down to the start of the Canyon Rim Trail. At this time the mountain laurel extravaganza had been supplanted by the azalea scene. These kept my mind off the increasingly more rugged terrain and enjoyed the beautiful surrounding there.
Eventually I reached one of my favorite viewpoints within Monongahela National Forest: The Point. I had fun clambering about the big rocks and taking pictures, which included a 'selfie' or two.
It had become quite hot then, so I decided to cut off the hike by a couple of miles because of taking the Teepee Trail connector. I had worn my pants for this hike, just for this as the very eventuality; that was a wise choice, since my legs would have been serious scratched otherwise because the woody shrubbery that I had to force my way past.
My pacing was much swifter once I was on the Roaring Plains Trail. This took me via a short stint on FR70 to get to the Boar's Nest Trail. The first half of this was majorly flat and led to a nice view of the nearby Dolly Sods plateau. The second half was a rapid sink back down to Red Creek and my waiting car.