Ascent of Yellow Mountain on 2019-10-22

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Date:Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Yellow Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5127 ft / 1562 m

Ascent Trip Report

A good road climb southbound .... 4.2 miles, 1100' gain, 3:15 hrs RT including all stops.

I approached this summit from the northeast side - a moderately easy/short approach when compared to the long southern approach reported/used by others.

After visiting Rabun Bald in GA (the day started in rain) I made my way to Highlands, NC and JCT Hwy #64/28 in the town center, where I traveled northeast on #64 (North 4th Street) for 6.8 miles to Norton Road on the left. I zeroed my odo. By this time the sun was out - making for a glorious day.
0.00M ... JCT Hwy#64/Norton Road (35.10899,-83.14840), I traveled north on the paved Norton Road.
2.00M ... left on Yellow Mountain Road, this paved road winds/switchbacks generally northwest.
3.85M ... pass the signed "Zeb Buchanan Road, private" on the left (35.13941,-83.17583, elev 4030'). This road could be an ALTERNATE ROUTE to the summit so I checked it out. I drove the narrow paved road southwest 0.7 miles to a locked gate with a small guard house (35.13224,-83.18180, elev 4220'). The road/gate has no evidence of recent usage. Parking is a problem here. From this gate its half a mile up the road to the Main JCT (elev 4560') that is referred-to below. Overall this ALTERNATE ROUTE has the same length and elev gain as the route that I took. I continued driving on Yellow Mountain Road.
4.53M ... turned left (westbound) on the paved Mill Creek Road, the Yellow Mountain Baptist Church is on the corner.
5.00M ... Buggy Barn Road on the left with a very small sign (35.14743,-83.18519, elev 4030'). There are few driveways here and all is not obvious. Buggy Barn Road is the one with the large sign "Dead End" on the right. Ample parking, this was my TH.

I actually drove up this road and ended up going the wrong way, lost a lot of time, before coming back and finding the route that took me to the summit - all as described here.

The route that I describe is clearly shown on the satellite imagery, also all hiking distances and elevations I provide are estimates only.
The good driveable Buggy Barn Road climbs/winds/switchbacks southerly up the mountain slope 0.9 miles to the ridge (35.14100,-83.18542, elev 4520') where it makes a wide left-switchback to the north. A small unused track (blocked-off with a few large rocks) heads south 80 yds to the north-end of a huge N-S grass field (looks like a golf course). This area apparently is the boundary line of a huge Yellow Mountain Private Housing Development that has had trouble finding buyers. The Developer has put in the main road infrastructure as I talk about here.

At 200+ yds from the TH is a large locked gate (key pad), I went around it to house #141, immediately inside the gate for permission - no one home so I continued 0.3 miles to the first left-switchback, where to its south is house #3401 with Yellow Mountain as its backdrop (superb today with the colorful fall foliage). I went to the house and the nice gentleman didn't have any problems, "I'll be going up myself later with a friend." - I would meet up with then on my descent for a nice long chat. They told me that Zeb Buchanan Road is the service road for the Tower and that it can be used to climb to the top. I told them that is it signed "private". One guy responded, "Well Ya, everything is signed private around here."

The golf-course-like-field has a perimeter gravel road on the left (east) side. I walked it 0.3 miles to the southwest corner of the field where it enters the woods and in 70 yds comes to a Main JCT (35.13717,-83.18484, elev 4560', 1.2 miles from the TH). This is Zeb Buchanan Road (alternate route) that comes up from "Mile Marker 3.85M" above, the wide road is paved with a rough surface. Straight the road descends southerly to the gate referred-to above.

I turned right (west) and climbed steeply 200yds to a left-switchback and continued/climbed to a right-switchbacks, finally arriving at the summit turn-around (35.13646,-83.19067, elev 5080') - 0.9 miles from the golf-course-like-field or 2.1 miles from the TH. A short trail leads 100+ yds southwest to the Summit Tower with an outstanding panorama - well worth the effort.
I descended in 1 hour.

The route that I took is more interesting than the alternate route noted above.


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1097 ft / 334 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km
    Route:rd winds sb from buggy barn rd
    Trailhead:buggy barn road  4030 ft / 1228 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 

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