Ascent of Backbone Mountain on 2012-06-25

Climber: Alan Barber

Date:Monday, June 25, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Backbone Mountain
    Elevation:3360 ft / 1024 m

Ascent Trip Report

Leaving Mount Davis PA, we stayed on US 219 almost all the way but got a little lost in the final few miles again reaching Silver Lake West Virginia. The trailhead was a bit of a challenge to find. There was a single sign indicating the high point which we blew past expecting others along the road. When none appeared we turned around and retraced our route into Silver Lake and using the map found a likely road. We evidently made a common mistake because the owners of the property made their own sign to keep high pointers off their property.

As we headed back up the mountain again, we saw the sign indicating Backbone Mountain road and turned onto it. In the absence of a gate or cable across the steep gravel road we headed up it until we reached a wide spot where a Volvo was parked. We parked there too because the road continuing up was severely rutted and narrow beyond that point.

The summit of Backbone MT Maryland is 3360 ft above sea level and ranks 32nd among the high points. Its top is 700 vertical feet above the trail head and constituted our first real hiking adventure. The trail was 1 mile long and gave us a nice workout. We did it in a single push. The only others hikers on the trail were a young mother with her two little boys. We met them as they were heading back to the parking lot.

The trail (logging road) was steep but we made good time following the orange blazes and reached to top of the ridge. Near the top of the crest close to the ridge summit the path splits. The right path was smooth and cleared while the left was rocky with ups and downs. We knew that taking the harder left path would allow us to reach the concrete marker delineating the West Virginia/Maryland boundary so we took it. We found the concrete marker and realized that the trail we had just hiked was all in West Virginia. We were literally ducking into Maryland to find the highest part of the ridge on that side of the border.A few yards later the two trails converged and we came to the easier path. Once the two paths joined again, we followed the cleared, well-cairned path on the ridge crest the short distance to the high point.

Once on the ridge leading to the summit, we had decent views in both directions (Maryland to the east and West Virginia to the West). These views were not as expansive those we would enjoy later in the week. The trail lead up a slight ridge and into the trees where a large rock cairn marked the Maryland high point along with a sign, high point register in a mail box, and a picnic table. We signed the Backbone Mountain register and took two souvenir certificates of completion. Then we started back down the trail. The hike down was much easier than going up and we were back at the parking lot one hour after starting.

A road sign in Silver Lake West Virginia just before the high point road directs visitors to the “smallest church in 48 states”. We back tracked a little to see it. It was a beautiful little church with 6 pews next to the “smallest mailing office.”We looked inside the church, took some photos and continued our journey. Next stop Spruce knot West Virginia. The drive from Backbone Mountain Maryland to Spruce Knob West Virginia covered a distance of about 66 miles and took us about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear

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