Ascent of Stout Knob on 2019-09-02

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Monday, September 2, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Stout Knob
    Elevation:2960 ft / 902 m

Ascent Trip Report

When I first saw Stout Knob online, I thought it was near unclimbable. Luckily, it turned out to be quite the contrary.

My first step to climbing Tennessee's most prominent unclimbed peak was determining a north vs south approach. While satellite imagery indicated the north side was coal mining country, actually driving there to scope out the area showed two gravel roads in labeled as WMA land. A bit of research led me to realize the north side of the peak lay largely in the new Tackett Creek WMA (i.e., public hunting/recreation land), and that there was additionally a strip of public land running along the ridge crest. Armed with this knowledge, I set off for a morning ascent after working overnight.

I arrived at the first of two gravel roads into the area, and was able to get my car a few tenths of a mile in before the road got too rough for comfort. Shortly beyond where I parked, 4WD becomes mandatory, and really an ATV is what is going to get you high enough on this mountain to be worth your while. Otherwise you, like I, will walk. I continued up and down the far side into a valley, staying on the main road, which finally ends at a large clearing. At the far end of the clearing are three lesser roads--take the one to the left that goes downhill. This road contours along the base of the ridge, ultimately coming to the first of two ways up--my ascent route. An initially-decent rocky ATV road heads up a valley, becoming increasingly steep and eroded as the valley steepens, higher up barely resembling a road. The road abruptly ends near the base of a cliff band; here, I turned climber's left and followed weaknesses through the open brush toward what looked to be--and thankfully was!--a break in the cliffs. Now up on the ridge, a short bushwhack took me to the trail--actually a sometimes-traveled ATV track in surprisingly good condition, which would in fact lead most of the way to the summit.

I followed the ATV trail to near Childress Gap, where I went left at a split. This left turn doesn't match up with the topo; rather, it ascends a bit then contours, ascends some more to gain the long ridge west of the summit of Stout, and ultimately passes along its southern aspect. I noticed white blazes here and there, but the mystery of this trail would not be solved until I was nearly at the summit; here, there were signs for the Cumberland Trail. I followed this gently uphill first north, then east, finding myself at a saddle north of the summit, with only mild to moderate brush and gentle slopes to contend with to gain the summit. High ground was just south of the benchmark. Regrettably, there were no views. My ascent had taken a little over an hour and a half.

I descended, first shortcutting down to the ATV track and following this back to the gap. Near the road split, on the return, I did note a few No Trespassing signs, the first I'd seen all morning. Were these a holdover from the pre-WMA days? Were they new? I wasn't sure, but I had to go back this way. This time, I stayed on the ATV track instead of contending with the cliff bands. The road at one point swings to the top of a cliff band near some ledges that offer nice views of whence you came, and the mountains to the north--the best views you'll have all day. I descended, eventually meeting the contouring ATV road at a spot where my descent route ascended steeply with insanely deep ruts from the ATV road--you'll know it when you see it! I walked the road back, encountering no less than a dozen ATVs the last mile of walking out, but none seemed bothered by my presence, and everyone was friendly. Still WMA, it seems. I returned to my car about three hours after starting, took the time to pull all the burs off of my clothes, and left before it got much hotter out.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1232 ft / 375 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1232 ft / 375 m
    Distance:7.9 mi / 12.7 km
    Start Trailhead:1728 ft / 526 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Chris Gilsdorf
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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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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