Ascent of Rocky Mountain on 2008-05-18

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Sunday, May 18, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Rocky Mountain
    Elevation:4072 ft / 1241 m

Ascent Trip Report

Rocky Mountain is one of a series of high peaks clustered together on the Blue Ridge Range, between Lexington and Amherst along US-60 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rocky Mountain itself sits on the Rockbridge-Amherst County Line and is the highpoint of Rockbridge County, and possibly the highpoint of Amherst County as well. Some nearby hills in Amherst County come within feet of Rocky Mountain's elevation, too close to call. I did not visit these on today's trip.

Today was our last day in the Lexington area, as we’d be starting on our way back to Baltimore for our flight out tomorrow. The hike up Big House had gone well and it is truly one of the best hikes I’ve done in Virginia, and one of Beth’s favorites from her days at Washington & Lee. Beth was still sore from yesterday’s hike and not terribly interested to visit Rocky Mountain, so she allowed me to go make a quick visit while she slept in and recuperated.

From our hotel in Buena Vista, I got rolling slightly after 6 a.m. in pretty morning sunlight and high clouds, knowing that another front was expected to move through very soon. I drove US-60 up and over the crest of the Ridge then down another 8-9 miles to Coffeytown Road (Amherst CR-634). I followed Coffeytown Road north through the pretty countryside and past homes and pastures for 4 miles to a T-junction, where I went right. The pavement ends another couple of miles near a big fenced pasture.

The sun was still low in the east and Rocky’s nice symmetrical peak came into view between some foreground peaks. The road, now gravel, is signed as Forest Road 63 and leads another couple of miles up to a four-way junction called Salt Log Gap. To here the road was pretty good and our little “mid-size” passenger vehicle did fine.

The road north leads toward Rocky Mountain. The condition of this road was a notch below that of the main road in quality, so I eased the car onto it and took it slow. Previous rains had left muddy sections and standing water, but other obstacles were few and as long as I went slow, I did fine. About a mile later, I parked at a junction and decided to walk the rest.

The hike covered three-quarters of a mile and gained about 500 feet along the road, which goes all the way to the top and is there for the vehicles that service the towers. On my visit there was no one around, and within twenty minutes I was up top. The highpoint is an outcrop of rocks on the east end of the towers.

I climbed these up the backside and took in the view of trees mostly, but open and very nice to the south. The twin summits of Pompey and Pleasant Knobs were the most visible peaks in the distance. I was only on top a few minutes. The hike down took me 15 minutes for a total round trip of about 45 minutes. The drive back to Buena Vista went quick and I was gone for a total of about two and a half hours.

I returned to the hotel, and after cleaning up and packing, we spent the day driving toward Baltimore, ready to go home.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Trailhead:3572 ft / 1088 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike

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