Ascent of Nakedtop on 2019-07-30

Climber: Lane Jefferson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:3720 ft / 1133 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a big day in Shenandoah National Park that included 3 peaks, some stiff climbs, and some of the best waterfall scenery in the park. I began at the boundary trailhead for Whiteoak Canyon early in the morning. There was only one other car in the lot! I worked my way up the canyon, taking in the waterfalls, then cut over to Skyline Drive on the Crescent Rock Trail to begin the peakbagging.

There used to be a trail up to Bettys Rock from the Crescent Rock Overlook on Skyline Drive, but it was decommissioned to allow the vegetation to regenerate. The trail is pretty obvious and there is even a sign explaining the whole closure partway up the trail. From what I can tell, the area is open to the public as long as we don't go trying to clear the trail again. The whole trail has been covered over with logs and branches, many of which are at awkward angles and hidden in the overgrowth. This made the footing difficult, but made the trail easy to follow. The rock outcrop that gives this summit its name is probably one of the best views in the park, and I had it all to myself. You can see Stony Man to your right, and the dramatic, rocky northern face of Hawksbill to the left; Timber Hollow drops off precipitously directly below. I startled a couple of vultures and the whole rock is covered in guano, indicating it probably sees few visitors now that there is no official trail. However, looking at the topo map, it's highly unlikely the outcrop is the highest point of the summit. There is a ledge immediately behind it that is almost certainly higher, and the highest ground appears to be right where my GPS had the summit labeled, a bit of a bushwhack back toward the east. Anyone serious about claiming this peak should probably tag those and not just visit the outcrop.

After coming back down from Bettys Rock, I headed over to Crescent Rock, the outcrop just on the other side of the parkway overlook. I startled some more vultures and had some more impressive views all to myself. Then, I made my way down to the Appalachian Trail and hiked over to the Hawksbill area. Nakedtop also used to have a trail to its summit that is no longer maintained or marked on current park maps. It starts opposite the Salamander Trail where it leaves the AT. The trail is not obvious at first, but the area is quite open. Once I got to the ferns, I was able to follow a fairly obvious trail most of the way to the summit. At times, I could not tell if I was on the old trail or just on a game trail, and there were a couple of detours around blowdowns and mountain laurel thickets, but it was much easier work then Bettys Rock. The summit is obvious. Unfortunately, there is not much of a view, but the ridge is open and pleasant.

After making my way back to the AT, I took the Salamander Trail to the summit. This is the highest and most prominent peak in the park, and one of only 2 peaks over 4,000 feet here. It is also the closest peak with 2,000 feet of prominence to the DC area. Although it is listed as the County High Point for both Madison and Page counties on this site and in Andy Martin's book, several peakbaggers have noticed some discrepancies with the maps and it seems the Page County GIS office confirmed that the county line stays west of the true summit. Most of the cliffy area to the west of the summit is currently closed to the public to protect the fragile and rare ecosystems that thrive there. I suspect the true Page County high point is somewhere in the closed area, but I tagged every prominent rock outcropping that was not off-limits on my way up the Salamander Trail and right around the summit itself. I might go back and explore another day if the park reopens this area to the public, but for now I will call it good. It was right around lunch time, so the summit was pretty crowded, but not as bad as it is on weekends. The views were nice as always.

Once I had enough, I made my way back to Hawksbill Gap and started the steep descent down Cedar Run back to the trailhead at the park boundary. I stopped to dip my feet in the cold, refreshing mountain stream, and saw a Northern water snake on my way down. This was tough!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:385 ft / 117 m
    Total Elevation Loss:345 ft / 105 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:385 ft / 117 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 40 ft / 12 m; Extra: 345 ft / 105m
    Loss on way in:345 ft / 105 m
    Distance:2.7 mi / 4.3 km
    Route:AT, decommissioned park trail
    Start Trailhead:Bettys Rock  3680 ft / 1121 m
    Time:1 Hours 11 Minutes
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Whiteoak Canyon / Bettys Rock / Nakedtop / Hawksbill / Cedar Run

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Bettys Rock2019-07-30 A2637 ft / 804 m
2Nakedtop2019-07-30 B385 ft / 117 m
3Hawksbill2019-07-30 C721 ft / 220 m
Total Trip Gain: 3743 ft / 1141 m    Total Trip Loss: 3743 ft / 1141 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Lane Jefferson
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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