Ascent of Graveyard Mountain on 2013-03-09

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, March 9, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Graveyard Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:2240 ft / 682 m

Ascent Trip Report

I climbed this one partly out of curiosity about the name (maybe a reference to many tombstone-sized boulders on top?) and also to get an end-of-winter leg-stretcher without too much hard climbing. It was a 5-mile loop for me, but it could have been 4 miles if I had followed the Mountain-to-Sea Trail (MST) or probably less than 2 miles via bushwhack directly up the SW ridge of Graveyard Mtn.

Note that the MST is not marked on the topo east of US221. I thought it followed the gated Bald Mtn Road, and indeed it does on the far side of the ridge approaching the Catawba River. On the 221 side, however, the MST is located further north.

On the east side of US221 (opposite the USFS Woodlawn work center and rest area) there are two trailhead parking areas. The northern and better-signed area is where the MST crosses. About 100 yards south is a gravel road that has substantial parking next to a locked gate. This is the Bald Mountain Road and is popular with those riding horses or mountain bikes. It's a good quality gravel road with easy grades. However, it takes a roundabout way to Graveyard Mountain.

From the gate, head east for 1.5 miles to a road junction at the ridgeline. This is where you encounter the MST. Turn left and continue another mile north, ignoring a tempting bushwhack across a valley toward Graveyard Mtn. Stay on the road and it will eventually make a horseshoe turn and then a left fork back toward your destination. The road will get you within a quarter mile, and you can follow 4-wheeler tracks all the way to the summit, which is wooded but has nice winter views.

After a mile on the way back down, you can turn right (west) on the white-blazed MST, which switchbacks its way 1.0 miles down into the valley. When it reaches a grassy clearing (signed NC Game Land), the MST continues to the right, but you'll see a gravel road about 100 yards ahead on the left. That's the Bald Mtn Road--just a quarter mile from the gate.

If you choose to bushwhack, the game-land clearing looks like it would be the best place to start. Note: Coming up Bald Mtn Road, this is the first clearing on the left beyond a signed "Helibase Area."
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:840 ft / 255 m
    Total Elevation Loss:840 ft / 255 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.4 mi / 8.7 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:790 ft / 240 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 640 ft / 195 m; Extra: 150 ft / 45m
    Loss on way in:150 ft / 45 m
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Route:Bald Mtn Road, MST, bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:USFS Woodlawn Work Center  1600 ft / 487 m
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:690 ft / 210 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 640 ft / 195 m; Extra: 50 ft / 15m
    Gain on way out:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:2.2 mi / 3.5 km
    Route:MST wesbound
    End Trailhead:USFS Woodlawn Work Center  1600 ft / 487 m
    Time:1 Hours 

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