Ascent of Chestnut Bald on 2011-04-20

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Chestnut Bald
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6000 ft / 1828 m

Ascent Trip Report

Chestnut is not bald, but the climb was not nearly as "hairy" as I expected after reading other trip reports.

From the Black Balsam Road off the Blue Ridge Parkway, I parked at the crest (el. 5880), headed SW on the Art Loeb trail and then continued on the Mountain-to-Sea Trail. This is almost level walking, crossing Silvermine Bald at 5980 and then dipping to 5800. As the trail begins to climb Chestnut Bald, there is a ledge just to the L with views all the way to the lakes of Upstate SC.

A short distance beyond, the trail crests, and I found an orange tape marking the start of a decent route up Chestnut Bald. It's only about one-tenth of a mile with 80 feet climb, and you can follow deerpaths most of the way. There were a couple of thorn patches, but few thorns this early in the season (April 20). The only problem is ascertaining the exact summit, which is heavily covered by blown-down trees. In the summer, you might have to reach into snakedens to touch all the HP candidates. I found a three-rock cairn under a couple of fallen tree trunks--that is as good a spot as any.

On the return, I made a side trip to Silvermine Bald. This summit is also indefinite, but at least it is "bald" enough for views.

Note: By itself, this route (3.2 miles roundtrip with 360 feet of gain) does not qualify for South Beyond 6000. So I combined it with a hike to Sam Knob, which I believe meets the standards. A better alternative for these two peaks can be found at Look for CMC hike #128, a 9.8-mile loop from NC215.

Chestnut Bald is my 70th COHP, my 36th in NC, and enabled me to connect my COHP glob into Georgia (now extending to 6 states).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:600 ft / 182 m
    Extra Gain:240 ft / 73 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.2 mi / 5.1 km
    Route:Art Loeb Trail, MST, bushwhack
    Trailhead:Black Balsam Road  5880 ft / 1792 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Very Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 9 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Sam Knob area

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Chestnut Bald2011-04-20 a600 ft / 183 m
2Silvermine Bald2011-04-20 b20 ft / 6 m
3Sam Knob2011-04-20 c600 ft / 183 m
Total Trip Gain: 1220 ft / 372 m    Total Trip Loss: 1220 ft / 372 m

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