Fall Color Found

treeFall is my favorite time of year. I love the cool, crisp air, but I especially love seeing all of the colorful leaves.

This year, either I am too anxious to see color and it seems like it’s taking FOREVER, or the change is a bit later than usual. I think it’s the latter, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I finally got to see some amazing color on Friday, but I had to work for it.

After being laid off from my job without warning (don’t worry, that’s old news), I suddenly felt like I had lots of free time on my hands. That’s not entirely true, because I had to find a new job, and that takes a lot of work. But working to find a new job didn’t prevent me from daydreaming about taking a motorcycle ride through the mountains. And since I typically work for contract research organizations, and there are several of those in North Carolina, I came up with a plot to schedule things carefully and line-up a bunch of interviews next week in NC.

Sounds like a great plan, right? I thought so. But then I was offered a job with a company in Charlottesville, Virginia. And I start on Monday. That’s tomorrow.

It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, even if it does mean I can’t go to North Carolina. So I planned a trip to West Virginia instead. I was going to go on Thursday and spend the night on the road, but the areas I wanted to see were forecasting rain, which would have been miserable, so I went on Friday. Just for the day.

The drive into Dolly Sods on FR75.

I revisited the Dolly Sods, a place Hubby and I had gone to by car from the WV Place in 2010. The Dolly Sods is a wilderness area that sits at an elevation of about 4,000 feet atop the Allegheny Plateau. It is one of many areas of interest in the Monongahela National Forest. The Dolly Sods is significant because of its elevation and what that means to the flora and fauna.

Much of West Virginia is pretty mountainous, but the mountains aren’t very high (the highest peak is only 4,863 feet). It’s been said that many areas of the Dolly Sods are like high-alpine regions in Canada. The snowshoe hare can even be found there.

We’ve ridden our motorcycles near the Dolly Sods many, many times, but never ventured into the actual wilderness area because it is known for its rough, dirt and gravel roads. It is a wilderness, after all. Descriptions of the route into The Sods said something to the effect of “the road climbs the Allegheny Front.”

Terrain map showing the Allegheny Front.

In 2010, we entered from the southern end. Yesterday, I entered from the north. The road goes up, and up, and up — five miles from the hard-surface road — before you finally reach the top of the Allegheny Plateau. Hubby’s GPS software plotted a graph showing our elevations at various points on the trip down and back, which clearly shows the extreme elevation change entering and leaving the Dolly Sods.

Hubby's 2010 GPS track of the elevation change.
Hubby’s 2010 GPS track of the elevation change.

In all, it’s just over 18 miles of hard-packed dirt, gravel, and rock (as in boulders embedded in the ground) road. It’s full of some very large potholes, with washboard ruts in many places because it’s a very well-traveled road. The ride up was so bumpy, I bet I stood for about a third of the climb.

It was so worth it, though. Far too many pictures follow as proof.

If you come here mainly to read my words, you may want to stop scrolling now. 🙂

Remember, click on any image for a bigger view.

The forest along FR75 into Dolly Sods.


Northern entrance at the edge of the plateau.


Looking north from just inside the entrance.


Looking west across the plateau.


A riot of color.


I couldn’t get enough of the color.


The blue sky makes a perfect backdrop.


It’s usually windy, hence the one-sided tree.


Looking east from atop Bear Rocks.


I took lots of pictures.


One of the most-photographed rocks.


Looking north and east.


Not a bad spot for my picnic lunch, eh?


I couldn’t have picked a prettier day.


The red bushes are blueberries and/or cranberries.


Very large conglomerate rocks.


Rocks and color.


One-sided tree (from the wind).


I really couldn’t get enough of the reds, greens, and blues interspersed with rocks.


Yes, I realize this is repetitive.


This is one of my favorites, I think.

I DID warn you there were lots of pictures, right? I’m not done sharing yet. LOL.

Seriously, isn’t the color amazing?


See my bike? I bet the place was mobbed on Saturday.


The colors just made me so happy!


Quaking Aspens! In West Virginia!


Yet another color shot.


The clouds were pretty cool, too.


Trail into the forest.


Trees and cotton-top flowers (or something like that).


The scenery was just breathtaking.


More Color


Cotton-top flowers (or something like that).


Beaver Pond


Same pond, slightly different angle.


Looking North


Looking South from the Same Spot


More Color


The reds were really vibrant.


Straight out of the camera.


The yellows were pretty bright, too.


Pretty, right?


Pretty Yellow Tree



It was darn pretty atop that plateau, but it was nice on the way down, too. The next pics were captured along the road at the south end.

Headed down FR19.


Tunnel of Color


Colorful Forest




I love being in the woods.


The tunnel of color continued for miles.


Pretty Foliage


I slid to a halt when I saw that multi-colored tree.


The view as a whole wasn’t bad either.


Looking east from near that multi-colored tree.


And on the tunnel continued…

That’s it for the Dolly Sods pics. But here’s one last capture from not far south along US-220/WV-28…

Champe Rocks, just north of Seneca Rocks.

Even in West Virginia, the color is still spotty at lower elevations. But it’s slowly, but surely, getting more and more colorful closer to home.

15 Replies to “Fall Color Found”

    1. I had to ride to West Virginia to see that much color — not that I am complaining — but it’s still pretty green near my house, east of the mountains.

        1. Well, at least that’s some color. Reds are nice, though. A lot of the leaves in the piedmont region where I live seem like they might not get very colorful this year. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

  1. T-Mama, that look’s like my kind of ride, and even though the elevations are still quite different, some of those shots look like they could have been pulled straight from “my” mountain ranges. All except the blueberry / cranberry bushes… Cool stuff.

    Since your fall color is just now starting at the higher elevations, you should have at least a few great weeks ahead of you!

  2. I really liked meeting you tonight. I admire your strength and determination you show in your rides. This is what women are about

  3. You managed to find beautiful colors. And I agree the blue sky made a perfect back drop.

    I am jealous. Everything is grey here. We’ve had 6 inches of rain since Thursday.

  4. Gorgeous Kathy! So glad you had a lovely day to celebrate the new job, and last day of unemployment! 🙂

    And now, Dolly sods is on our list to visit, too!

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