Ascent of Stony Tower Hill on 2015-07-20

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Monday, July 20, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Stony Tower Hill
    Elevation:2080 ft / 633 m

Ascent Trip Report

2080 ft.

Saturday, 7/18/2015

Conditions haven’t changed much from prior trip reports. After climbing Eagle Mountain earlier in the day, I set off to visit Lake County and the Stony Tower that sits atop Stony Tower Hill. Previous trip reports will get you there, but I would like to suggest a different approach. Let me tell you why.

Like most previous visitors, I traveled north on MN 1. When I reached Isabella, I knew I was getting close, and I became more watchful. I continued west and arrived at Forest Road 103, the Stony Loop Road. My GPS confirmed that this was the proper place to turn, so I turned left and continued generally in a SW direction.

I saw the “unsuitable for standard passenger cars” sign, and the sign did not lie! I was glad to be driving a 4WD Jeep with good clearance underneath. It was easy to see a two track road on the ground, and trees had not filled in the floor of the way. But the next 2.6miles were driven in virtual “white-out” conditions because of the growth of the weeds, small trees and other brush on either side of the vehicle. The brush completely engulfed the vehicle, growing up and meeting the brush from the other side of the way. My vehicle had a road to travel, but nearly the entire way was accompanied by brush and small tree limbs scraping the sides of the car. I could see nothing ahead of me; I just pressed on, believing that I was on the right way. At one point the brush was strong enough to cause the mirror on the passenger side of the car to pivot to a rest next to the car body.

Fortunately, the brush thinned as I neared the HP. Around 2.5mi, I carefully watched for signs of a road to the right (north). There it was! I found a road heading north, a road quite similar to the one I had just traveled. I parked and surveyed the damage.

The constant whipping of the brush had left many faint scratches in the paint. Not gouges, but several noticeable small scratches none the less. My “new” Jeep had received some battle scars.

The hike north was quick. I would guess it was about 600-700ft before I came to some witness markers and some concrete piles that I concluded were the former tower footings. I never found a BM. I took a few photos and wandered around before heading back to my Jeep.

My car GPS noted the presence of a road intersecting ahead, so I decided to venture out a different way. That turned out to be a great decision. The topo shows an abandoned railroad bed just west of the Stony Tower Hill. It turned out that a nice, wide, gravel road has been constructed atop the railroad bed. This was Forest Road 380, and I followed it about 2.2mi to its intersection with MN 1.

To recap, future visitors can travel MN 1 to FR 103. But If you continue 1.3mi further west on MN 1, you will arrive at an intersection – Isabella Station. Turn left (SW), and follow this gravel forest road 2.2mi to an intersection with FR 103. Turn left (east), and travel 0.6-0.7mi around a big curve to the south, then north, then back east. Watch for the faint road to the left after you resume traveling to the east, and park. Hike the 600-700ft NE to the site of the former tower. Taking this route is a lot “cleaner” than the former route to this trailhead on FR 103.
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