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Ascent of Lone Mountain on 2020-08-02

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Sunday, August 2, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Lone Mountain
    Location:USA-Tennessee
    Elevation:2530 ft / 771 m

Ascent Trip Report

This mountain, near but quite separate from the jumble of peaks and ridges that include Frozen Head State Park and the storied Barkley Marathons, lies on state forest land, is close to Knoxville, and can be reached by trail. Hence, I decided to save it for my finisher hike of the Tennessee P1Ks--the list of peaks in Tennessee with at least a thousand feet of prominence. These peaks range from mighty Clingmans Dome in the Smokies, to lowly yet rugged Raccoon Mountain just outside of Chattanooga. Several have access issues, but none insurmountable...

To reach the most popular and well-used trailhead, get to US-27, about two miles SE of Wartburg. If heading SE, make a sharp right onto paved Clayton Howard Rd, and continue to just before gravel Poplar Grove Rd, where a gravel pullout with room for several vehicles is on the left side of the road, across from the cab of the old House Mountain fire tower lookout. Park here.

The trail signs are confusing, but in general the trails and their junctions are well marked. This is a popular horseback riding area, and all but the Larue Ridge Trail which takes you to the summit are wide, obvious, and appear to be old ATV trails. From the trailhead, the Smokey Bear Trail is your only option--it crosses a creek with a small bridge, ascends gently to a lower ridge, then begins switchbacking, at times steeply, up the mountain. At a signed trail junction with the Dailey Trail, and Longest Mile Trail, we turned left onto the Dailey Trail. After passing a small retaining pond, the trail passes about 0.2 miles and 300' below the summit--some may wish to depart the trail here and follow what looks to be an old eroded road bed up the ridge toward the summit. However, we continued on the Dailey Trail, which continues in a surprisingly flat manner to the rather suspect-looking William Rankin spring, with another retaining pond. About a minute beyond here is the signed, but less obvious turnoff to the Larue Ridge Trail, marked with rather an overabundance of pink flagging and tree markers.

To get to the summit from here, the trail is mostly obvious, just pretty overgrown. Poison ivy abounds, there are occasional blackberries and other brambles, and long clothing is strongly recommended. Really, the trail needs some maintenance. The prospect of horrible itching not enough to stop me reaching my goal, I continued up the roughly 0.4 miles and 300' of gain to the small, viewless summit area. A few rocks and the half-a-benchmark just to the left of the trail looked to be high ground. Ready to be back on a less overgrown trail, we turned around and headed back to the Dailey Trail. From here, the trail continues south and slightly downhill before meeting another trail coming up from the west, then ends at the very pleasant, grassy spit of land--complete with picnic table--at Coyote Point. The views, while not 180 degrees by any stretch, were decent. We stopped to enjoy the views, have a snack, and enjoy celebratory beers.

The return journey went quickly enough, and we were soon back at the car, the whole hike having taken about 5 hours. The distance was somewhere in the vicinity of 10.5 miles with 1500' of gain. We saw two groups of horseback riders, and one pleasant older lady scoping the area out for future horseback riding. That would be a pleasant and less arduous way to get up this mountain, but remember--the final summit trail forbids horses.

I'd like to thank those who accompanied me on this journey. My dad, my cousin Brittany, Tim, Vince Kloster, Richard, and Eric all joined me for at least one of these hikes. I'd also like to express my profound gratitude to the landowners who humored me and allowed me to hike through their land in pursuit of this list--those on Chimneytop, Short Mtn in NE TN, Stone Mtn, Stone BM, and Ripshin Ridge come to mind. And a special thanks to Tyler whose knowledge of the riding trails back in Windrock saved me from a potentially bad outcome.

For those curious, here is the full list of all possible candidates on LoJ: https://listsofjohn.com/PeakStats/Content/clist.php?lid=1830
And a summary on every peak on the list, and then some: https://listsofjohn.com/customlists?lid=1830¬e=y
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