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Ascent of Three Top Mountain on 2017-03-12

Climber: Bradley Reese

Date:Sunday, March 12, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Three Top Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5000 ft / 1524 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: It was on a couple of my lists and relatively close to home for a peak I'd not yet summited.

Parking: At the time that I'm writing this the parking area and short road to the parking area are not listed on Google Maps. The closest address I could come up with was "207 Poplar Trail, Creston, NC". After I arrived at this address I continued on Poplar Trail for a short distance (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a mile) including around a sharp turn. Soon after the sharp turn in Poplar Trail there is a dirt road (by this point Poplar Trail is also dirt) on the left (again at this time this road isn't named or listed on Google Maps). The road has some signage for game lands. Turn onto this road and follow to the end where here is a closed gate and parking area. I think it was 2-5 minutes off of Poplar trail to the parking area. As a note after you turn off of 3 top Rd onto either Eller Rd or Hidden Valley Rd. there are several no trespassing signs. Fortunately there is public access to the game lands, so, I believe, they're unable to restrict access to the parking area.

The link below shows pretty much exactly where you turn off of Poplar trail to access the game lands (and the trail). I stole this link from summitpost.org, which has a few decent trip reports for this mountain.

https://www.bing.com/maps?v=2&cp=36.401655~-81.662418&style=r&lvl=11&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&cid=AE51A31EB51FD0FD!199

The hike: Remember this is a game lands so it's very possible you could meet a hunter, and should be properly prepared. At the time I hiked hunting was not allowed on public lands on Sundays, but hunting laws change (plus I could have misunderstood) so it's important you understand the situation you may walking into. There's a sign at the trailhead stating to wear hunter orange if hiking during hunting seasons, as a safety I'd suggest this at any time.

After parking start the hike by passing by the closed gate. As a rule of thumb throughout the hike remain on the better maintained ATV trail. At the time I hiked this was easily discernible at all but one point, which I will make mention of later.

A few hundred feet into the hike there is a lesser maintained trail going steeply up to the right, do NOT take this trail. Remain on the better maintained trail, that at this time is more level. The trail will remain fairly flat for just under 1/2 mile.

At almost exactly 1/2 mile, soon after starting uphill, and I believe after crossing the third spring (all springs flow under the ATV trail via culverts) I met the only fork I was uncertain about. Both directions seemed to be maintained about the same. Take a sharp right here, you will follow the spring (a hundred or so feet to your right) steeply uphill for a while. After this it was simple at the time I hiked, follow the better maintained trail at any intersection.

The trail continues to be fairly steep until near the turnaround point where there are awesome views in all directions, about 1.6 miles of hiking in 48 minutes. To me it was unclear which exact point was the highest so I followed the rock ridge touching each possible high point, the last of which being at 1.75 miles of hiking in just over 1 hour. I'd gone slowly through this stretch as the ridge was pretty rugged and taking in some awesome views.

I returned via the same route as I'd gone up finishing up at 3.5 miles in 1 hour and 49 minutes.

This is a hike I will very likely redo, as the views from the top are beautiful, and I can fit drive and all into half of a day.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1369 ft / 417 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1369 ft / 416 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
A bit chilly, with a bit of wind at the top. Clear and beautiful.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1369 ft / 417 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1069 ft / 326 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Loss on way in:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:Unnamed ATV Trail
    Start Trailhead:Parking area for Three Top Game Lands off of Popla  3931 ft / 1198 m
    Time:1 Hours 3 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1069 ft / 325 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:Unnamed ATV Trail
    End Trailhead:Parking area for Three Top Game Lands off of Popla  3931 ft / 1198 m
    Time:46 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


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

Download this GPS track as a GPX file




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