Ascent of Grave Mountain on 2010-10-30

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, October 30, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Grave Mountain
    Elevation:4640 ft / 1414 m

Ascent Trip Report

Foolish or naive, I bagged this peak on the first day of deer hunting season. At the risk of being hike-bagged, I called off my quest for nearby Round Top.

Grave Mtn is the HP of Iron Mtn, a 40-mile long ridge running from VA to TN. The Iron Mtn Trail was part of the original AT until 1972.

DIRECTIONS: Take US58 E from Damascus VA toward Whitetop. Approaching the village of Konnarock, US58 turns right, but you continue straight ahead on VA603. Just beyond Konnarock, VA603 intersects VA600. Turn R to stay on VA603 (Laurel Valley Rd) and continue 3.9 miles NE. Just before Grindstone campground, turn L onto Forest Service Road 848. A sign warns that this road is not for passenger cars, but I had no problem in my low-slung Saturn. At 1.4 miles, park at a gate on the L marked by blue blazes. This is the Flat Top Trail. Follow the trail up about 0.4 miles to the Cherry Tree Shelter. Bear left (W) on the yellow-blazed Iron Mtn Trail, which follows the ridge, climbs gently, and then crests about a quarter mile from the summit. Stay on the ridge and make your way through open woods to the rock outcroppings on top. The hike up was about 30 minutes. I saw no hunters on Grave Mtn.

I continued W on the Iron Mtn Trail, intending to bag Round Top. When I reached FSRd 84, I met a hunter who strongly suggested that I turn back: "Most of these guys know better than to shoot at you, but if they've had a few beers, you never know."

Grave Mtn and Round Top could both be bagged with short hikes from FSRd 84, which is a little less rough than FSRd 848. From the Chilhowie exit on I-81, take VA107 south, which eventually becomes VA600. About 8 miles from I-81, look for FSRd 84 on the L as you climb Iron Mtn. It's about 2 miles up FSRd 84 to the gap between Grave Mtn and Round Top. Iron Mtn Trail follows this road for some distance and does not cross Round Top, so that will require a bushwhack of perhaps a quarter mile.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:660 ft / 200 m
    Total Elevation Loss:660 ft / 201 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:360 ft / 109 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:Flat Top Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, bushwhack to
    Start Trailhead:Forest Service Road 848  4280 ft / 1304 m
    Time:30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:660 ft / 201 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 360 ft / 110 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:2.4 mi / 3.9 km
    Route:Flat Top Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, bushwhack to
    End Trailhead:Forest Service Road 848  4280 ft / 1304 m
    Time:50 Minutes

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