Ascent of Doe Mountain on 2017-10-14

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Spencer Layton
Date:Saturday, October 14, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Doe Mountain
    Elevation:3889 ft / 1185 m

Ascent Trip Report

Doe Mountain has a prominence of 1,259 feet, making it one of 50 P1K peaks in Tennessee.

If you have a 4-wheeler, you can drive to the Kettlefoot lookout tower atop Doe Mountain. If not, it's a 9-mile roundtrip hike with a net gain of about 1,150 feet. I made it an 11-mile journey with nearly 2,000 feet of climbing by foolishly trying to follow a trail that is labeled on the park map as "Not Well Marked."

The Doe Mountain Recreation Authority includes over 8,600 acres near Mountain City, TN. Originally protected by the Nature Conservancy, it is now managed by the state of Tennessee and is open for hunting. Various trails are designated for hiking, mountain biking, dirt-biking, horses, and 4-wheeling. The GPS address is 1203 Harbin Hill Road, Mountain City. Admission is $3 for hikers ($2 more if you need to rent an orange vest during hunting season). I feared the worst but had the mountain mostly to myself, even at the peak of fall color and the start of deer season for bow-hunters.

I donned an orange cap and started on Trail 112 behind the visitor's center. After 0.4 miles, I turned right onto Trail 12, and followed it another 0.4 miles through an old quarry site up to the intersection with Trail 1, which is the main ATV road. From here, I would suggest that hikers follow Trail 1 toward the summit. This road has yellow mile-marker stakes to measure your progress.

Wanting to avoid the road, the ATVs, and the hunters, I explored Trail 14. The lady at the office warned me to watch out for bears on Trail 14. Or maybe I misunderstood her and she said it was a bear of a trail. Unlike other trails on Doe Mountain, the trailheads for Trail 14 are not signed. On the handout map, it is labeled "Not Well Marked."

Actually, the first half-mile has orange blazes, and beyond that you will find an obvious path with occasional orange ribbons following the ridgeline to the hilltop labeled on the topo as RFG 26 3240 (I did not see a benchmark). Beyond that, the path plunged into a drainage and became harder to follow. I did not have my best GPS with me, and I did not have the confidence that I was on the right route. Instead, I backtracked east through a gap and followed what turned out to be Trail 16 back down to Trail 1.

By the time I was back on the main road, I had already hiked 3 hard miles, was still 3 miles from the summit, and was running short of water and snacks. Stubbornly, I went for the top anyway. The road walk is not difficult or steep--just long. About a quarter-mile beyond the 4-mile marker on Trail 1, there is a junction with a map kiosk on the left. At this point, take a sharp left and follow Trail 25 up to the summit. The tower is officially closed, but the fencing could be easily breached if you are tempted to climb.

Regarding Trail 14: The map kiosk near the summit shows two diverging routes forTrail 14. This does not not match the handout map I picked up at the visitor's center. So maybe I missed a turn. Also, the topo shows a dotted-line trail turning southeast before the approach to RFG 26. This is a logical route, but I did not see it on the ground. Unless you are bearish, I would suggest that you avoid Trail 14.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1969 ft / 599 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1969 ft / 599 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.8 mi / 17.4 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1869 ft / 569 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1169 ft / 356 m; Extra: 700 ft / 213m
    Loss on way in:700 ft / 213 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:Trails 112, 12, 14, 1, 25
    Start Trailhead:Doe Mountain Recreation Center office  2720 ft / 829 m
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1269 ft / 386 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1169 ft / 356 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Gain on way out:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 6.9 km
    Route:Trail 25, 1, 12
    End Trailhead:Doe Mountain Recreation Center office  2720 ft / 829 m
    Time:1 Hours 50 Minutes

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