Covid-19 Update (May 29, 2020)
The US Forest Service has reopened Forest Service Roads 19 and 75 that provide access to Bear Rocks. When planning your visit to the preserve, please keep in mind the following guidelines:
- If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone that has, please stay home.
- Carry a CDC-approved mask and hand sanitizer. Practice social distancing.
- Come prepared with all the gear/food/snacks you will need for your preserve visit.
- Stay local: Hike close to home. Limit stops for gas or meals along the way.
- Stay small: Hike with members of your immediate household or in small groups that have also been following CDC guidelines.
- Avoid areas and times of high traffic periods. Have a backup plan if the area you plan to visit is full. Do not park in undesignated areas or block roads or gates.
- Be prepared: Carry a physical map of the area you are hiking. Share your plans with someone you know in case you need assistance. Review Leave No Trace principles so you can leave the area the same or better than when you found it.
- Be patient: Check state and local guidelines if different from where you are traveling. Remember our small towns are stressed and while local businesses will welcome the increased traffic, they may not be prepared to handle large crowds.
- Be respectful and courteous. Remember people are handling this difficult time differently, and people need to take measures that are comfortable for them and their family.
Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being. Together, we can each do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can continue to do the important work needed in West Virginia.
Time stands still high above Canaan Valley, in Dolly Sods, where a flat, windswept expanse of subalpine heath barrens opens up to the sky. Stunted red spruce, ancient bogs and forlorn boulders define this haunting landscape, where creatures typically found in more northern environs roam oblivious to their geologic isolation.
Once mostly covered by dense, towering red spruce and hemlock forest, Bear Rocks and the surrounding area saw major deforestation, followed by livestock grazing, by the turn of the last century, leaving the region ecologically distressed. Today, however, the much-visited landscape is recovering well, with Conservancy efforts in the region focusing on mending and connecting large protected landscapes in order to breathe new life into this timeless region.
What We're Doing
- Planting red spruce trees on the preserve, to connect with a stand on adjacent U.S. Forest Service property.
- Protecting private properties surrounding Forest Service land through the use of conservation easements.
- Acquiring more than 6000 acres (known as Dolly Sods North) in the early 1990s for the Forest Service.
- Acquiring 15,000 acres of coal rights in the 1970s and transferring them to the Forest Service, allowing for the creation of the 10,000 acre Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.