Ascent of Mount Guyot on 2012-04-27

Climber: Ed Wandall

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, April 27, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Guyot
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:6621 ft / 2018 m

Ascent Trip Report

What a weird week this turned out to be. Ticked off a few 6K peaks and the Kentucky state HP, but the weather put a damper on much of my other plans. However, when dawn broke on Friday, April 27, and it wasn’t raining, I geared up and headed to the Cosby Campground to try and get to the top of Old Black and Mount Guyot.

Got to the Cosby campground at 7:15. The Snake Den Ridge Trail, which takes you to the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the peaks, starts at campsite B51. Don’t try and drive up there, as there is no parking. You have to park in Hiker Parking near the entrance kiosk. This adds a quarter mile or so. This early in the season, B section wasn’t even open. The gate was closed. I was hiking up to the trailhead by 7:20. Weather was grey and damp, but a fair piece better than the snow, hail and rain we saw all week. The Snake Den Ridge Trail follows its eponymous ridge, starts at the aforementioned campsite (at about 2,300 feet) to the AT (at about 5,800) after 5.3 miles. The first mile or so is on a gravel road, part of the old community that lived in this area. Now it is a maintenance road. There is a small cemetery to the right of the trail before the road ends, that is worth a visit. After the trail begins, it is gradual until you cross the Inadu creek. Since we had tons of rain and some snow, Inadu was a tough crossing (I was going ultralight and didn’t bring my hiking poles). After Inadu, there are a bunch of switchbacks that don’t match the indicated trail on many of the topo maps…my route, captured by my Garmin, is posted on if you want to see the current trail.

Right before you get to the AT, look around you, you will see the wreckage of an Air Force F-4 Phantom that slammed into Inadu Knob in 1984. There are other pieces on the other side of the ridge (where it hit). Sad area. I was the only person on the Snake Den Ridge trail, but when I popped out on the AT, I started to meet through hikers heading north. I was a disconcerting sight to some of them, as they were geared up for Katahdin, and I just had on a small day/hydro pack (one hiker stopped on the trail and sized me up…”whoa, where did YOU come from?”). As you hike southbound on the AT, you will see other pieces of the fighter on the left. Moving down the trail, the fog was breaking up, giving me some great views of the Smokies. The trail was very wet, but I was still making good time.

As the trail started to wind around Old Black, I kept an eye out for the rock cairn that supposedly marked the manway/bushwhack to the summit. I found it just west of the peak. This is one short, hard bushwhack. Fallen Fir skeletons are your enemy (actually, the wooly adelgid, that killed these great trees is your enemy!). You have to climb over dozens of them, each with broken branch spurs and knotty root barriers to fight through. When my GPS beeped to tell me I was near the top, I was covered in sweat and grime. I climbed up on a fallen Fir and looked around for a cairn, or anything that looked higher than where I was. I hopefully grabbed a small rock to put on the cairn, and kept crawling/climbing around the Firs until I was satisfied that I was on top. I kept coming back to the large Fir that I climbed on top of. To me that seemed the highest in the area. I didn’t see a cairn, so I just dropped my rock at the bottom of the tree. I found an easier way getting down which took me west/north-west off the summit. It landed me about 100 yards back on the trail than where I started, but it only took me 10 minutes to get down (compared to 15 going up).

Filthy (and happy) I headed to Mount Guyot. I was a bit apprehensive, as I heard the bushwhack up Guyot was much worse than Old Black. I also couldn’t find any beta on where the manway started, just doom and gloom from previous summitters. Shortly, I was at the foot of Guyot, which has a ridge that runs off to the Northeast. I spied what looked like a faint trail or manway just north of the main peak. Rather than try it immediately, I kept going counter-clockwise around the mountain on the AT, looking for something better. After I was just west of the summit, the trail started dropping, so I backtracked to the faint manway, and started the 300 vertical feet of climbing to get to the summit. It was fairly steep, but a lot easier than Old Black. There were a few trees that had to be climbed over, but most could be avoided. After about 15 minutes I found myself looking at the cairn and benchmark. Success! I followed the path of least resistance down, which was very close to my path up. It always seems like you can find a better way down than up. Total time up to Mount Guyot (including the bushwhack up Old Black) from the parking lot at Cosby was 3 hours 30 minutes. And that is about as hard as I can go.

Heading down, I spend about 45 minutes poking around the wreck site and bagged Inadu Knob. I am actually an aircraft accident investigator and safety guy, so this was one of the main reasons I came up this way. I made it back down to the car by 2:40. Getting down this quick is not recommended, but my wife was being patient in our cabin while I was doing this, so I did a lot of trail running on the way down when I could.

Trip statistics (according to my Garmin Oregon): Total Distance 16.9 miles. Total elevation gain 5653 feet. Total time (including poking around Inadu Knob and the F-4) 7 hours, 20 minutes.

Another great day in the Smoky Mountains!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5653 ft / 1722 m
    Extra Gain:626 ft / 190 m
    Round-Trip Distance:17 mi / 27.4 km
    Route:Snake Den Ridge Trail to AT then Bushwhack
    Trailhead:Cosby Campgrount Hiker Parking  2220 ft / 676 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Mount Guyot

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Snake Den Mountain2012-04-27 
2Inadu Knob2012-04-27 
3Old Black2012-04-27 
4Mount Guyot2012-04-275653 ft / 1723 m
Total Trip Gain: 5653 ft / 1723 m    Total Trip Loss: 5653 ft / 1723 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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