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Ascent of Covington Mountain on 2015-04-26

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Sunday, April 26, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Covington Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:2000 ft / 609 m

Ascent Trip Report

This hike is not for the inexperienced. It involves significant bushwhacking and cross-country navigation wit. For me, the navigation problems were compounded by the fact that my GPS had been ruined in heavy rain a week earlier. Fortunately I had some luck, in the form of some roads that helped where it mattered most, which helped me succeed on both peaks.

From US-64 in McDowell county, about halfway between the borders with Burke and Rutherford counties, I turned E on NC-226. Note: access to NC-226 is via a connector that leaves the *west* side of US-64. Note or zero your odometer as you reach NC-226 itself. At mile 9.7 I turned L on Moriah School Rd. At mile 10.7 I turned L on John Queen Rd. At mile 12.0 I turned R on Jonestown Rd, following a sign to Mt Pleasant Baptist Church. At mile 12.3 turned L on an unsigned road just before a bridge. The only sign at this intersection said this was the way to Mt Pleasant Baptist Church. At 14.0 miles I passed the church itself on my L and the pavement ended. At 14.4 miles I crossed a bridge. Immediately after the bridge is a wide grassy turnout on the L, where I parked. There a few scattered No Trespassing signs here, but I never had to defy any of them or negotiate a fence on the hike. Also, during the hike, I saw many signs that identified a state game refuge.

On foot I crossed back over the bridge, then plunged immediately into the thick forest on the E side of the road, following the stream the the road bridge just crossed upstream and keeping mostly on its R side. The brush was not very thick, though the forest was less than open. When possible, I stayed on the stream's floodplain to the R of the creek, but I was occasionally forced to climb out of the floodplain or cross the creek. The steep N slope of Covington Mtn rose on my R. After ~10-15 minutes, I reached an open brushy area that was quite difficult to penetrate in many places. I bypassed it on the R where possible and soon encountered an abandoned road grade. It was somewhat intermittent and it did not always head where I wanted to go, but it was somewhat useful where it existed. Over time it became more consistent and eventually reached the ridge line just above (SW) of Covington Mtn's prominence saddle, about 0.3 mile NE of its summit. The road continued across the saddle and headed NE, in the general direction of Benn Knob.

Since I wanted to climb Covington Mtn, I turned sharp R and headed up the ridge, where a road-again-trail-again pathway helped for about 2/3 of the way. Eventually the path dropped off the L side of the ridge and I had no choice but to bushwhack through a thicket of brush and deadfall. This soon eased up, and the remainder of the climb up the ridge was open cross-country. There were a couple of long-abandoned road grades here, but they were very intermittent and didn't often go where I wanted to go, so there is little to be gained by trying to use them. In due course I reached the summit.

I then returned to the saddle and road, on which I continued NE. The terrain is rather convoluted here, so the road was a blessing in light of the fact that my GPS had recently been ruined. I constantly checked my compass to make sure that the general direction of the road was NE. The overhead photo shows a linear clearing to the SE of my route heading all the way to the summit of Benn Knob, but this is not a road; it is a brushy clearcut for the power line that serves the facilities on the summit of Benn Knob. It doesn't even have a service road; it might be slightly useful as a navigation reference, but it is nigh useless for actual travel. Note that slightly less than 1 mile WSW of the summit of Benn Knob is a small ridge defined by a NE-to-SW-trending 2000' contour. The road I used skirted the SE flank of this ridge. On the downhill side, to my R (SE) I got occasional glimpses of an unmapped lake. Then, near the key prominence saddle of this ridge (35.5614N, 81.6725W), the road intercepted a much larger road that transsected the saddle from N to S. Although the road was not useful since neither direction went toward the summit of Benn Knob (to the S it presumably went to the lake, and to the N it went down a creek bed), it was still an important landmark.

After scouting the road briefly to be sure it would not be of any use, I climbed uphill following the ridge system that eventually led to the summit of Benn Knob. The forest was open. Upon reaching the ridge top at 2600 feet, ~¼ mile WSW of the summit, I intercepted the power line. I followed it around a bend, usually staying in the forest to its L, to the summit.

I descended my ascent route back down the ridge system to ~2200', then veered R down into a gully that eventually intercepted the "saddle road" just N of the saddle. The road and gully soon turned W, then SW, to become the creek bed S of Red Spur. The road I was using had been a continuation of the road shown in this creek bed. The remainder of the hike was straightforward: I simply followed the road down the drainage until it intercepted the Mt Pleasant Church road a short distance above my car.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:420 ft / 128 m
    Elevation Loss:810 ft / 247 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:420 ft / 128 m
    Distance:0.6 mi / 1 km
    Route:NE ridge
    Trailhead:Mt Pleasant Church Rd  1580 ft / 481 m
    Time Up:30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:810 ft / 247 m
    Distance:0.6 mi / 1 km
    Route:NE ridge
    Trailhead:Mt Pleasant Church Rd  1190 ft / 362 m
    Time Down:20 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Edward Earl
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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