Ascent of Spencer Mountain on 2019-02-03

Climber: Henry Pharr

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, February 3, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Spencer Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:1240 ft / 377 m

Ascent Trip Report

This manadnock lies surprisingly in and around the mill towns of Gaston County. Once busy and bustling when Llowell, Ranlo, McAdenville, Gastonia and other towns were sources of substantial employment for folks working in yarn manufacturing, dyeing or finished textile products. Now most of these mills have shuddered or operate a severely reduced capacity, forcing the former workforce and their progeny now to either have left the area or hoping for that manager's position at McDonald's or the gas station at the corner. But I digress....

This singular mountain that rises over 500 feet above the South Fork Catawba River Valley and associated streams is truly unique in a lot of other ways. Due to the cellular and telecommunications towers that remain at the summit, the quickest route is to hike the service road off of Spencer Mountain - Lowell Road, BUT there is no place to park along the road near that entrance. Strike ONE. There is allegedly a bushwhack route from the north by the old haunted house near the South Fork River. I tried it, and - let's just say it is not worth the wretched and thorny non-trail that is supposed to lead to the top. Strike 2. The best route(s) lie to the south of the Mountain and originate from the back of George Poston Park.

ROUTE 1: Head to the hill behind the last field at the north end of the Park and you will find a marked mountain bike trail that lead to the base of the Mountain. At some point, the trail bends away from the summit and you are essentially on your own. The slope turns very steeply to the NW and occasionally follows old logging or access roads. Be careful as loose leaves can cause you to trip and slip on many occasions. Near the summit plateau, you will reach a flat area that is adjacent to an abandoned mine. Entrance to the mine and exploration here can be accessed from the summit to the east. Not sure what folks were mining here, but it was intense (200 foot drops), but now has been abandoned. I explored some of this area, but keeping my eyes on the prize, walked west to the old buildings and rocks that make up the HP. Not sure if it is a operable tower, but the BM and HP are located on a pile of rocks behind this building.

From here, I spied the well maintained and open USFS fire tower to the east. This is no-miss part of the trip. The tower lies high above the tree line and affords views of the Charlotte Downtown City skyline, Crowders-Kings Mountain, and even Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain to the North.

ROUTE 2: In front of the old building is an existing right of way down the powerline to the Park. If dry, you can easily descend steeply below the power lines, but if wet I would walk the route in the woods to the east or west until you meet the bike trail near the Park's north end.

Much more than I expected, but definitely worth it!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:522 ft / 159 m
    Total Elevation Loss:522 ft / 159 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:522 ft / 159 m
    Distance:1.1 mi / 1.8 km
    Route:Maintained Trail and Bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Parking Lot at County Park  718 ft / 218 m
    Time:1 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:522 ft / 159 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.3 km
    Route:Maintained Trail and Bushwhack
    End Trailhead:Parking Lot at County Park  718 ft / 218 m
    Time:45 Minutes

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