Ascent of Rich Mountain Bald on 2011-11-05

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, November 5, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Rich Mountain Bald
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5372 ft / 1637 m

Ascent Trip Report

Rich Mountain Bald (elev. 5372) is one of four mile-high peaks in Watauga County, and this climb enabled me to complete this little list. My 3.6-mile round-trip hike also included a visit to Tater Hill (5194), the 6th highest in my home county.

There is a posted private road that leads to Tater Hill from Howards Creek Road, and a seldom-used jeep road continues up the SW side of Rich Mountain Bald. Tater Hill is the launching spot for an annual hang-gliding competition. If you are interested in accessing these mountains that way, you can contact the owners on the website

Instead, I climbed the NE side from Rich Mountain Gap, SW of Snake Mountain. There is no trail here, but it is a straightforward hike, mostly through open fields with great views. It's 1 mile to Rich Mountain Bald and another 0.8 miles to Tater Hill. You can see three-quarters of the first leg from where you park alongside Rich Mountain Road.

The BM (stamped "Bald of Rich") was buried under grass, but I found it by triangulating from two weathered-green RM's set in rocks nearby. The BM is not actually on the HP but about 25 feet W/SW. It's probably brass, and the most pristine BM I've ever found.

The HP is in a corner of a half-mile long bald that commands a view of 5 states (NC/SC/TN/VA/KY). The day I visited was sparkling clear with a vivid blue sky, and Mount Guyot in the Great Smokies was visible, 96 miles away.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1352 ft / 411 m
    Elevation Loss:1352 ft / 411 m
    Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1072 ft / 326 m
    Extra Loss:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    Route:Bushwhack thru pasture, woods
    Trailhead:Rich Mtn Gap  4400 ft / 1341 m
    Time Up:1 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1252 ft / 381 m
    Extra Gain:280 ft / 85 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    Trailhead:Rich Mtn Gap  4400 ft / 1341 m
    Time Down:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Rich Mtn Bald

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Rich Mountain Bald2011-11-05 a
2Tater Hill2011-11-05 b

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