Ascent of Shorty Mountain WNW on 2018-10-25

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Charles Zerphey
Date:Thursday, October 25, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Shorty Mountain WNW
    Elevation:1680 ft / 512 m

Ascent Trip Report

We've made this hike harder than it needs to be. In fact, if you have 4WD, you should be able to drive within a mile of the Polk County highpoint. Even if you walk, it's only 2.7 miles of moderate climbing.

Fred Lobdell's 2000 route is no longer useful. The gate is now strongly posted by a hunting club, and it's not worth asking for permission, because the second mile of the road is blocked by dozens of blown-down trees. We were able to access Fred's road via the Pinhoti Trail (which crosses the road at spot elevation 1065), but it was a brutal obstacle course that took more than an hour to go less than a mile. Finally, we abandoned the road and climbed up onto the hillside, where the walking was much easier.

When we reached the gap at elevation 1340, we found an open glade and another jeep road coming up from Hematite Branch. This is at the start of the switchbacks that lead toward the county highpoint. Above here, the road was in pretty good shape, and we had smooth sailing to the top. We even found the old woods road that Fred mentions that will guide you within 100 yards of the summit.

Our GPS units disagreed on exactly where the GA-AL state line crosses the mountain. One Garmin and the GAIA GPS app on my iPhone showed the border going directly across the summit rocks. Another Garmin showed the line about 25 yards east of the summit, which is consistent with the USGS topo. Either way, you can be sure you've covered the Polk COHP if you follow the eastern ridgeline all the way to the top.

While we were lunching on top, I looked at my topo maps and saw a faint jeep road that corresponded to the one we saw in the glade. Charlie and I decided to try it as an exit route. We had actually driven the bottom half-mile of the jeep trail while looking for the Pinhoti trailhead. I was in a new Mazda CX-5 that I had promised to bring home without a scratch, so I turned around. But in hindsight, I believe I could have driven it almost to the glade, and maybe farther. If you're in a Jeep, Outback, or other high-clearance 4WD, go for it.

To find the trailhead, enter Old Jackson Chapel Road Pinhoti Trailhead, Cave Springs GA on your car GPS. The trail is marked by blue blazes but no sign at the roadside. The Pinhoti Trail and the Jeep road both start at spot elevation 839. There are yellow gateposts here but no gate.

Zero your mile-counter and walk or drive west on the jeep trail, following Hematite Branch on the topo. At 0.67 miles, reach spot elevation 930 and turn right. At 0.83 miles, pass through more gateposts. Reach the glade and the gap at 2.0 miles. You'll see the tree-blocked road coming up from your right. Continue up the road through several switchbacks. At 2.56 miles, as the main road curves left toward Shorty Mountain, find the 4-wheeler track on the right that goes most of the way to the COHP.

(If you are interested in bagging Shorty Mountain, it looks like it would be simple to continue further on the road. Also, it wouldn't be a long bushwhack to rejoin the Pinhoti Trail and climb Flagpole Mountain, the Cherokee AL COHP. But we didn't go farther, since our goal this day was the Polk COHP--not to mention that we were dealing with threatening weather and an unexplored return route.)

There is another old woods road that follows the ridgeline between the two valley roads we've discussed. We did not walk this one, but we saw both ends of it. It appears to cross very near unranked Peak 1452, if you're interested in exploring that route.

The attached GPX route show the route of our descent (2.7 miles). I did not post the ascent (3.5 miles) because I wouldn't want anyone to go that way by accident.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1041 ft / 317 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1041 ft / 316 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1041 ft / 317 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 841 ft / 257 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:Pinhoti trail to woods road
    Start Trailhead:Old Jackson Chapel Road, Pinhoti Trailhead  839 ft / 255 m
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:841 ft / 256 m
    Distance:2.7 mi / 4.3 km
    Route:Jeep trail
    End Trailhead:Old Jackson Chapel Road Pinhoti Trailhead  839 ft / 255 m
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Tom Layton
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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