Ascent of Elk Knob on 2011-09-04
|Date:||Sunday, September 4, 2011|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-North Carolina|
| Elevation:||5520 ft / 1682 m|
Ascent Trip ReportToday (Sept 4 2011) was dedication day for the new summit trail. A couple of dozen volunteers and park staff climbed the mountain to put the finishing touches on the trail and celebrate the completion of 5.5 years of work.
This was my 24th ascent of Elk Knob, and I had the honor of dumping the last wheelbarrow of gravel on the end of the trail.
The new trail is 1.8 miles long and climbs 960 feet from the parking lot. Most of the hike is under trees, but the summit views are well worth the hike.
On a clear day, five states (NC/SC/TN/VA/KY) are visible from the two overlooks at the summit. This includes 3 state HP's: Mount Mitchell NC, Mount Rogers VA, and Black Mountain KY.
A number of peaks are identified on displays at the two overlooks.
In addition, on the rare clear day, look for:
-- Mt Guyot TN/NC (98 miles, 245 degrees W/SW) just to the R of Big Bald from the south overlook. Guyot is the second highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Guyot was visible without binoculars on Oct. 23, 2010.
-- Black Mtn KY (79 miles, 301 degrees) beyond the N ridge of Snake Mtn, looking W/NW from the road below the south overlook.
-- Whitaker Mtn SC (83 miles, 173 degrees S/SE from the south overlook) at the W end of the ridge that includes Crowders Mtn and Kings Mtn.
-- Charlotte (89 miles, 148 degrees S/SE) on the far L side of the south overlook. The 60-story Bank of America tower is the tallest building between Philadelphia and Atlanta.
-- Winston-Salem (82 miles, 100 degrees E) on the far R side of the north overlook. The highest building is the 34-story Wachovia Tower.
(Bearings are based on true north=0. Magnetic north here is +7.)
Additionally, I have been able to identify 32 county high points from Elk Knob. There may be as many as 39, according to the visibility cloak at www.heywhatsthat.com. I'm biased, but I know of no peak in America that commands a view of more COHPs. (This is one dimension where the western mountains don't stack up--if only because the eastern counties are smaller and closer together!)
ELK KNOB STATE PARK
NC has been proactive about purchasing large tracts of land along the Blue Ridge to protect mountains from development. Elk Knob is one of four relatively new state parks, along with Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock, and Gorges.
Elk Knob State Park is 10 miles north of Boone NC.
Elk Knob and adjacent Snake Mtn are the HPs in the Amphibolite Range, which runs from Boone to the Jeffersons. These mountains are notable for their "sweet" soil which support several rare species of plants.
Elk Knob is the 3rd highest point in Watauga County, after Grandfather Mountain and Snake Mountain. Google Earth shows the summit at 5556. The state park sign says the elevation is 5520, evidently based on the 40-foot contour maps. However, there is a 5550 contour on the 10-foot topo.
The state park has placed signs at two overlooks to identify the mountains, as well as an "Elev. 5520" sign for photo-ops near the north overlook. Strict HP'ers will have to venture into the brush to the R of the clearing to find the highest rock outcropping. There is no USGS benchmark on the summit.
The state park has a nice picnic ground and plans to offer backcountry camping, possibly by the end of 2011.
DIRECTIONS: From US421/King Street in Boone, take NC194 north for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Meat Camp Road and go 5.5 miles to the park entrance.
|Summary Total Data|
| Elevation Gain:||960 ft / 293 m|
| Distance:||3.6 mi / 5.8 km|
| Route:||New trail|
| Trailhead:||State Park trailhead 4560 ft / 1389 m|
| Quality:||10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)|
| Weather:||Drizzle, Hot, Calm, Low Clouds|
| Time Up:||1 Hours |
| Time Down:||40 Minutes|
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