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Ascent of Potato Knob on 2011-09-12

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Date:Monday, September 12, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Potato Knob
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6400 ft / 1950 m

Ascent Trip Report

As far as I can determine, Potato Knob is tied with Mount Love for the 14th highest named summit point in North Carolina. Claiming this summit requires some bold behavior on the part of the climber. The first part of the climb was easy. I parked my car at Stepps Gap and began my climb across the road at a gate blocking the service road for the summit communication towers of Clingmans Peak. The gate was not posted. The road ended about 1 mile later after reaching a fence enclosing the summit of Clingmans Peak. I crawled under a gap at the bottom of a gate to reach the highpoint on Clingmans Peak before my wife, Geri, and I made the easy stroll to the summit of Mount Gibbes. Before reaching the fenced area, a heavily posted ATV trail leads to the right of the road in the direction of Potato Knob. I took a chance and followed the trail past two nice cabins to a cleared field. (My wife chose to make a early descent!) I discovered a trail at the end of the field and continued toward Potato Knob. This trail faded at times and required some bushwhacking, but in general, it was not too difficult to follow. Finally I reached a large rock outcrop beside the trail that appeared to be the summit of Potato Knob according to my GPS. I was not looking forward to repeating the bushwhacking sections through thickets of raspberry bushes, so when I noticed a road on my GPS only .2 mile to the west that led back to Stepps Gap, I decided to try to locate it. This proved to be a mistake. The bushwhacking got heavier and much more difficult. After 10 minutes, I had only covered about 250 feet, so I returned to the trail I used to reach Potato Knob in the first place and hiked back the same way I arrived. There is absolutely no view from the summit due to the thick forest.
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