Ascent of Elephant Mountain on 2020-05-15

Climber: Mike Stinson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, May 15, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Elephant Mountain
    Elevation:2101 ft / 640 m

Ascent Trip Report

I started at the small trailhead on US 60 that's 1.4 miles downhill from the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Rockbridge County side. From here, a maintained trail leads more or less south and then west to a junction where two signs helpfully labeled "trail" mark a trail intersection (not the first trail junction you'll see going this way, though). Here you'll see the beginning of what's left of the Elephant Mountain Trail. Apparently the USFS has not maintained this trail for years, because not far from the junction you find yourself literally bushwhacking to follow the old trail grade. It can be followed, if you are comfortable doing that sort of thing, to the last saddle southeast of the summit. At this point, what I found differs from topo maps that imply that the trail continues straight ahead. Instead, what's left of the trail veers left (southwest) and follows that side of the mountain for a ways before several switchbacks lead nearly to the top. The upper section of the trail is largely covered with leaves but can still be found, though I lost it after the last switchback. At this point, though, I was only a few feet from the summit ridge and scrambled the rest of the way up. There are some decent views along the way and from the top.

The map suggests that you could also climb this mountain either from Laurel Park of from Reservoir Hollow, both of which are accessed from Buena Vista. I enjoyed the route I took, and either of the other two routes would also involve some bushwhacking.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1016 ft / 309 m
    Extra Gain:320 ft / 97 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:Elephant Trail remnants
    Trailhead:US 60  1725 ft / 525 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
warming through the afternoon into the 80s
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 46 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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