Ascent of Three Top Mountain on 2017-11-16

Climber: Henry Pharr

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, November 16, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Three Top Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5000 ft / 1524 m

Ascent Trip Report

The road narrows as it approaches Huckleberry Rock.

Huckleberry Rock (listed on newer maps as 5,035 feet) is an awesome series of relatively flat rocks, easy to explore northeast on the ridges beyond the end of the trail. I clambered out to the second rock summit, which has a more expansive view than where the trail ends. By far the best view is west of Big Rock shadowed by much bigger Amphibolite Mtns: Snake Mt and Elk Knob. You also have amazing views of the Iron Mtns to the north, and Phoenix Mt, Mt Jefferson, and Bluff Mt to the east and south.

Follow the trail back down towards a broad saddle, with very open woods to the left/south. This is approximately 0.2-mi from Huckleberry Rock, and before the trail starts seriously dropping. To get to Big Rock, go into the woods and you'll probably find a usage path that generally straddles the middle of the ridge. The total bushwhack is ~0.5-mi. For the first few hundred yards this is easy to follow, and relatively open. As you approach the knobs below Big Rock the ridge narrows and the undergrowth gets thicker. Here you'll need to make your way around some obstacles, but generally you can still follow a faint path that sticks to the left/east side of the height-of-land. You'll have to scramble up some rock faces, but this is easy compared to many other hikes I've done.

The high point of Big Rock, the highest peak on Three Top Mt, is not the best view (listed on newer USGS maps as 5,044 feet). Continue down the rock ledges southwest towards small, flat grassy patches with incredible vistas. The sheer drop offs on each side are awesome. The subsequent rock ledges continue to get steep southwest as it turns into a knife-edge row of rocks leading hundreds of feet down towards a saddle below Peak 4880. More adventurous climbers would love continuing down this ridge to Peak 4880, which surely has amazing views as well. My friend and I were satisfied with the views from Big Rock, which are very similar to Huckleberry Rock with clearer views south of Grandfather Mt and west of Elk Knob/Snake Mt. The grassy patches are amazing lunch and picture spots. We turned around and made our way back to the trail, this took less than 25 minutes. It really is a short bushwhack. The road down is steep and hurts the knees and feet, one of the least fun forest roads I've encountered.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1360 ft / 414 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1360 ft / 414 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Drizzle, Cold, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1360 ft / 414 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    Route:Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Start Trailhead:Pull off on Maintained Road  3640 ft / 1109 m
    Time:55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1360 ft / 414 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:Maintained Trail and Bushwhack
    End Trailhead:Pull off on Maintained Road  3640 ft / 1109 m
    Time:45 Minutes

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