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Ascent of Pilot Knob on 2016-03-28

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Others in Party:Katrina
Date:Monday, March 28, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pilot Knob
    Location:USA-Iowa
    Elevation:1454 ft / 443 m

Ascent Trip Report

After failing to reach the trailhead on this one two months earlier right after a 14" snow made the road nearly... nearly impassible to the campground, we had better luck this time. There was no snow and it was a pleasant day out. It was early spring and I could get by with a t-shirt as long as the sun stayed out. We parked at the edge of the youth group site at the end of the campground, then hiked south onto the obvious trail. Immediately there were a few boards to walk over to avoid a muddy spot were water trickled from the marsh to the left into the lake to the right. The lake looked amazing and made us wish we had a canoe. The trail soon hit a T where we turned left. The trail got steeper as we ascended through fall-like leave covered ground which had the occasional rock. We were pretty happy to see rocks, as our normal turf around the Loess Hills has none. We passed a restroom and a parking lot made for those who don't want a decent hike and continued up a gravelly path to the summit. The summit is a large mowed meadow with a silo looking observation tower. The true summit and benchmark were just a bit east of the tower and were easy to find. The views at the top were incredible and certainly are some of the best in Iowa. We made our way back down the way we came. I'd highly recommend our route to the summit for those that would rather get some gain in and a pretty nice, if not short by almost all standards (25 min), hike to Iowa's second most prominent point.

With the help of LiDAR, Pilot Knob overcomes Owl's Head (Mount Earl), but falls short of Carrol COHP's prominence to be the second most prominent point in the state. Here were my findings which were made possible by both DEM LiDAR data for the summit elevations and two foot contours for the cols.

Carroll County Highpoint – First Place
Summit: 1559.55’
Key Col: 1228’-1230’
Clean Prominence: 329.55’
Optimistic Prominence: 331.55’

Pilot Knob – Second Place
Summit: 1453.90’
Key Col: 1126’-1128’
Clean Prominence: 325.9’
Optimistic Prominence: 327.9’

Owl's Head – Third Place
Summit: 988.58’
Key Col: 674’-676’
Clean Prominence: 312.58’
Optimistic Prominence: 314.58’

June 2018 Update: I had incorrectly listed the prominence of Pilot Knob as ten feet more then the summit and col elevations would lead you to believe. I've corrected this, and unfortunately, Carroll County Highpoint comes out as the most prominent point in Iowa, not Pilot Knob.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:149 ft / 44 m
    Extra Gain:5 ft / 1 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.9 mi / 1.5 km
    Trailhead:Campground TH  1315 ft / 400 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:13 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:12 Minutes



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