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Ascent of Craggy Gardens on 2019-04-06

Climber: Bradley R

Date:Saturday, April 6, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Craggy Gardens
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5680 ft / 1731 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: Friday evening I realized I was fairly caught up with school work and didn't have anything else keeping me from going. I looked through my Runkeeper routes for something I could finish in a shorter day. A route I'd built, probably 2 years before, for Craggy Dome fit well. The route already included Craggy Gardens and Craggy Pinnacle, I made some edits to get Bullhead in also.

The plan: Get up early Saturday and do what I expected to be about 6.5 miles. Be done early enough to have my evening at home.

Parking: I placed Bullhead Gap, Ivy, NC into Google Maps and it took me to where I wanted to start the hike. You could effectively do the same route starting at the Craggy Dome Overlook or the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center also. It would just change the order of the hike.

The hike: I didn't get myself started as early as I wanted. This probably ended up being good as things cleared up later in the day.

I started the hike just before 10:30 AM. I was between two layers of clouds. Below were thick white clouds with a few high points sticking through. Above was another thinner layer of clouds.

I started North on the Mountain to Sea Trail (MST) toward Bullhead. I stayed on the trail for just under 0.6 miles before cutting up the mountain for a short bushwhack. The bushwhack to the top was short and relatively easy until the very top. There were two points I thought may be the high point, one in what I'd consider a heath bald (thick blueberry and short shrubs). The second, maybe 40 yards away was more open with small trees (no undergrowth). I touched both. It was still winter up here, with no foliage there were limited views around the peak.I gained 300' in this section. From here I dropped back to Bullhead Gap.

After reaching Bullhead gap I briefly remained on the MST losing a bit more elevation. Soon the MST crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRPW). Just before crossing there was a faint trail to take up Craggy Dome. (1.45 miles total)

I take this faint trail reaching the top of Craggy Dome in ~0.35 miles while gaining 440'. Near the top there are two Coffee Table sized rocks sitting on top of one another in the trail. This may be the high point, but I think a point maybe 20 yards to the NW may be a bit higher. Again I touch both points. There are some nice views here of Bullhead and other peaks around Mitchell. I return to the MST here. (2.15 miles)

Here I stay on the MST and cross the BRPW. I remain in the MST until I make a short bushwhack up Craggy Gardens. Along the way the trail is up and down, not much to see along the way. ~1.3 miles into this section I reached the intersection for the Douglas Falls Trail, this is something I may do in the future. Right at this intersection I meet the first group of others. A girl in a group asked me if there was anything interesting in the direction I was coming from. I said not really, she said we'll go this way then pointing toward the Douglas Falls Trail. Following this I begin meeting more people. Some of who seemed like they'd never been in the woods before. Another playing rap music loud enough you could hear it a good distance away. Around 2.5 miles into this section there is another intersection that I now presume would connect you to Craggy Gardens Trail. I continued on my pre-created route, but not long after (maybe 0.15 miles) I began a short bushwhack up to Craggy Gardens. (4.75 miles total)

Here I complete a short bushwhack for 0.1 miles gaining 170 feet. This connects me to the Craggy Gardens Trail right at a large shelter. From here there is a spur to a panorama view going just past what I think was likely the high point, about 30 yards off the trail in a brier thicket. After the lookout area I continue on an un-maintained trail that leads to a rhododendron thicket may have been the high point instead (still believe the first point was higher). I turned around here and headed back out and returned to the shelter. (~5.4 miles)

Here I continue on the Craggy Gardens Trail to the BRPW. In this section I met a women who wanted to know what the sign to Douglas Falls 3.X? Miles or minutes. I said it means miles. I passed quite a few people in this section. (~5.7 miles)

I had been unsure how to approach Craggy Pinnacle, at the Craggy Garden Visitor Center (where I met the BRPW) there was a map indicating there was a trail at the next overlook, north. I walked to the overlook. Walking through a tunnel through my GPS off a bit, it read as 0.7 miles, but was shorter... we'll say 0.4 miles (~6.1 miles).

Here I walked up Craggy Pinnacle, an overcrowded trail, but everyone was considerate giving you room to walk by and spoke kindly. Gaining 220 feet in 0.4 miles. I returned down the same trail (~6.9 miles)

From here I continued back to my car via the BRPW, walking a final 0.7 miles. Now from the Bullhead overlook there were no clouds below and partly cloudy skies above, with pretty decent long range views. (~7.6 miles total).

I could see myself repeating a portion of this hike with Amanda in the future, but likely won't go back without her. A decent day and a few peaks bagged.

All stats have been listed under Craggy Dome.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Part of Trip: Craggy Dome

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Bullhead Mountain2019-04-06 a 
2Craggy Dome2019-04-06 b1790 ft / 546 m
3Craggy Gardens2019-04-06 c 
4Craggy Pinnacle2019-04-06 d 
Total Trip Gain: 1790 ft / 546 m    Total Trip Loss: 1790 ft / 546 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
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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