Ascent of Hogback Mountain on 2003-11-28

Climber: Scott Surgent

Others in Party:Beth Cousland
Date:Friday, November 28, 2003
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hogback Mountain
    Elevation:3474 ft / 1058 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Winchester, Beth and I drove south along US-340 to the city of Front Royal and the northern terminus of the Skyline Drive, arriving here about 10:30 a.m. The clouds were thick, but the rain was light so we figured we might be okay with a little luck.

Skyline Drive is a 100-mile scenic byway built high into the mountains and essentially is the "backbone" of Shenandoah National Park. South of Front Royal on US-340, we found the entrance, paid our fee ($10) and started in. Less than two miles later, we came to a downed tree blocking the road. A ranger was there helping direct traffic. Fortunately, there was enough room on the shoulder so that cars could bypass the fallen tree.

The three highpoints we were interested in were Hogback Mountain near milepost 27 (Warren County), The Pinnacles near milepost 36 (Rappahannock County) and Hawksbill Mountain near milepost 45 (Page and Madison Counties, as well as the highpoint of the park). At first we intended to drive all the way south to Hawksbill Peak and visit that one first and work our way back north. But with the bad weather, we figured we'd just do them as we came to them, so Hogback Mountain was first.

Beth was driving and for much of the way, especially once above 2,000 feet elevation, we had dense fog and low visibility. Traffic was light, but it was deer and other animals leaping into the road that posed the most danger. We arrived to a large scenic pullout (Indian Garden) and parked, placing us just barely west of Hogback's summit. As we drove up, two park rangers were questioning a guy very aggressively. We think he may have been poaching because the rangers were clearly very unhappy.

For us, the hike to Hogback Mountain went fast, an easy stroll along a gated service road to the top of the small peak. We gained 100 feet, and found the highest rocks near the USGS benchmark. The Benchmark is actually located below the highest rocks. If the elevation noted is for the benchmark itself, then the summit elevation might be about 6 feet higher, or about 3,480 feet. We snapped photos of gray fog, then returned to our vehicle. When we returned, the rangers were gone and so was the guy, but his truck remained, so obviously they took him into custody.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Trailhead:3374 ft / 1028 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail

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