Ascent of Little Bearwallow Mountain on 2017-12-22

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Spencer Layton
Date:Friday, December 22, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Little Bearwallow Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3963 ft / 1207 m

Ascent Trip Report

Little Bearwallow Mountain is one of eight hikes in the White Squirrel Challenge 4.0, a challenge sponsored by Conserving Carolina (previously the Carolina Mountain Conservancy). See

I hiked up by the newly dedicated Wildcat Rock Trail, which was completed in 2017. Conserving Carolina has labeled this a challenging trail, and I will agree. The terrain is steep and rocky, and you'll have to negotiate hundreds of stone steps in slippery conditions. I slipped and fell twice--not on rocks, but on mud, leaving what looked like a genuine bearwallow in my wake.

The new trail is part of a 15-mile loop being developed by Conserving Carolina along the rim of the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge. The next link (Little Bearwallow to Bearwallow) is scheduled for construction in 2018. Continuing clockwise from Bearwallow, another four miles of trail are open leading to Blue Ridge Pastures. Another yet-to-be-built section will cross Hickory Nut Gap and connect with the existing trails in the Florence Nature Preserve.

The trailhead is on US74A just east of the Gerton community. These trails are popular, and it's not uncommon for the parking to fill up quickly. On a mild winter day, I got the last spot.

The trail descends to cross a creek and then climbs 1600 feet in about 2.5 miles. The middle section is the steepest, as you pass Wildcat Falls and follow the base of towering cliffs to the Wildcat Rock overlook. Above that, the path levels out and it is a pleasant hike to a pasture just west of the summit of Little Bearwallow Mountain. Turn left and follow an easy white-blazed path to the summit.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1783 ft / 542 m
    Extra Gain:130 ft / 39 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route:Wildcat Rock Trail
    Trailhead:US74A Upper Hickory Nut Gorge TH  2440 ft / 743 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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