Ascent of Rocky Knob South on 2019-02-14

Climber: Henry Pharr

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, February 14, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Rocky Knob South
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5240 ft / 1597 m

Ascent Trip Report

Nestled between its more heralded ridge cousins, Pinnacle and Graybeard Mountain, Rocky Knob with its double summit may be easily overlooked, but should not be.

DIRECTIONS: Park alongside the BRP where the Old Mitchell Toll Road (marked by a white gate) meets the BRP about 1/2 mile North of the intersection with NC 128. Follow the well maintained dirt road for about .6 miles, at which point you will pass the South orange blazed trail to the right. This is the back way up to The Pinnacle. From here, the road continues to curve to the right and follows a distinctive boulder covered ridge that descends from the Pinnacle.

As noted by Tom Layton, there are a number of antiquated abandoned campers that line the single track, some of which look to be 60 or more years old. Great snapshots of a bygone recreational era. At this point, the road descends gradually until reaching a small gap. Look for a trailhead to the right that parallels the marked Asheville watershed boundary. Ascend gradually and then more steeply remembering to stay to the left of the boundary markings. At points, the trail almost fades away or is blocked by downfall. Keep your south bearing thoughout and will you reach the north summit of Rocky Knob at 1.8 miles total.

The views to the north and west are pretty spectacular, with the Great Craggy Mountains and the Black Mountains (including a surprisingly low appearing Mount Mitchell) creating a full 180 degree+ panorama.
It is short walk the south summit which also has a photogenic view of Graybeard and the Swannanoa Valley to the south. The day I visited, it was partly cloudy and almost perfect for spotting all of these mountains.

If you want to continue on to Graybeard, proceed steeply (but carefully) to the east of the summit through a semi-marked trail. There is a route to the west that appears to also lead that same direction, but abruptly ends at a sheer drop off near a rock outcropping. After .4 miles, you will reach a gap where you begin your ascent to GB. If not, simply retrace your steps to the Toll Road and the Parkway.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:320 ft / 97 m
    Total Elevation Loss:240 ft / 73 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.4 mi / 3.9 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:320 ft / 97 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Route:Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Start Trailhead:Pull off on Maintained Road  4920 ft / 1499 m
    Time:55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:240 ft / 73 m
    Distance:0.4 mi / 0.6 km
    Route:Unmaintained Trail
    End Trailhead:Graybeard Gap  5000 ft / 1524 m
    Time:20 Minutes

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