Ascent of Pilot Knob on 2013-07-26

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, July 26, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pilot Knob
    Elevation:1440 ft / 438 m

Ascent Trip Report

Notes to Peakbaggers and CHPers:

This report only details the peakbagging experince of Sage, Rotten, and Pilot Knob all connected by hiking trails. Two of these are candidate County HP peaks. The other County HP Peaks are not detailed in this trip report as this was to capture Pilot Knob, Rotten Point, and Sage Point. See other trip reports for other candidate CHPs.

Trip log:

Used the guide by Micheal H. Brown and his suggested route. This suppliments or updates this as it was written awhile ago and things have changed. I moved a fast pace and started at 7:10 AM and was back at the car at 9:10 AM. I covered over 5 miles and over 1600 feet of total gain in 2 hours including photos and summit time.

Gravel parking holds about 6 cars. Nobody was there. Trees down at beginning of trail but trail well marked. Crosses muddy shale stream typical of KY and then heads upward. They have rerouted many trails to stop erosion so stop and be careful which one to take. Good signs at the beginning and around the kiosk sign in. Near junction of Sage Pt Trail and the Pilot Trail I found another unmarked trail that was not heading me on the SW bearing to Sage Point and not taking me to the saddle watch out for that trail it does not go to Sage Point. Sage Point is connected by obvious saddle and there are no views to speak of at top just gives you a nice long trip to earn the summit of Pilot.

On down trip from Sage you cross a power easement and the trail becomes beaten down grasses and blackberries. I ate about 80 spiders before I got smart and found a stick to pre-break webs and keep the strands off my face. The trail continues down to a small creek, crosses and then heads finally back NE up to Rotten Point. You will cross the power easement a second time. At early morning hours the dew soaked me in the tall grasses to the waist.

The trail now bisects the maintenance road to the towers and reroutes the Sage Point Trail west to the saddle between Rotten Point and Pilot Knob. I chose to follow the old report and headed up the limerock roadway as it was feshly paved and easy to follow to top of the towers. The towers are typical obnoxious and tall but are on the downslope southern shoulder. To tag the peak of Rotten Point you have to find the old jeep road and follow it north and it deadends at the knob. Rotten top is named well. It sticks up in a tiny knob with a broken down old wooden shack left over from the old radio tower on its summit and it is rotten and ugly. I tried to follow the old paths from that summit back to Pilot but the rangers have blocked it and it is now overgrown and I only found a few of the old red blazes to follow so I backed up and past the towers again and headed down the maintenance road to where the Sage Pt Tail intersects the limerock road and headed up Pilot the way they intend for you. They don't appear to want you to climb up Rotten Point but there is no barricades or anything just they clearly "direct" you straight to Pilot now and try to route you from Rotten Point.

The trail to Pilot goes exactly over the connecting saddle at elevation 1150 plus or minus and climbs steeply up to the junction trail. Stay right and it climbs around the steep cliffs of sandstone, and weathered conglomerate to find the peak. There are excellent views from the sandstone pinnacles and outcroppings. This is a worthy KY peakbagging experience. Rejoing the junction trail, you see the cliffs along the south and SW side of Pilot that you missed by taking the long way up trhough the other peaks (Sage and Rotten) saving the best for last!


0.5 miles from Parking at around 790 to junction with Sage Pt Trail. Climbing steadily to Sage Point at 1113 with little extra gain except when I briefly took a wrong unmarked trail up about 60 feet. 2.0 miles on the Sage Pt Trail and up to Pilot Knob plus my side detour of the maintenance road to Rotten Point (about 0.5 miles each way)Plus Pilot Peak trail up 0.4 miles. Thus, 3.9 miles from parking to Pilot Knob by way of Sage Point, Towers, Rotten Knob, and back and up peak trail. The descent includes the 0.4 summit trail in reverse, and then, 0.3 miles down Pilot Trail to connect to junction of the Sage Pt Trail, then the 0.5 Miles back to the parking lot or around 1.2 miles. I figure total mileage this route was 5.1 miles and this matches my pedometer reading of 12,000 steps which showed around 5 miles (because of the extra trip up the maintenanne road to the towers and Rotten Knob) otherwise it is around 4.1 miles total according to the newest trail maps at the kiosk.

Up - 790 to 1113 with 60 extra for wrong trail and repathing. The junction is around 1150 and the saddle between sage is around 980 so you lose and reclimb (1150-980=170); then you lose and regain from Sage Point to the towers from the Creek of (1,113-800)=313 feet. Probably another lose and regain between the towers and the Rotten Knob of around 60 feet (this is more than it needed to be but I started down from Rotten Knob before I realized I needed to backtrack as they had closed the trail shown on and it was becoming a bushwhack. Total extra gain for this up trip was thus, 60+170+313+60= 603 feet to get Rotten Knob.

Then since I had to backtrack down the maintenance road to re-aquire the TH to Sage Pt where it crossed the limerock road, I lost and had to regain from (1440-1100) below the natural saddle at 1150 = 340 feet. Thus, the total extra gain to get to Pilot Knob through all the additonal peaks was 603 + 340 = 943 feet.

Coming down it was simply the extra gain from the peak trail each way and around the overlook back up the peak which was only around 65 feet total.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1658 ft / 504 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1658 ft / 504 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.1 mi / 8.2 km
    Grade/Class:1, 1+
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
early morning fog still clearing but views
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1593 ft / 485 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 650 ft / 198 m; Extra: 943 ft / 287m
    Loss on way in:943 ft / 287 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Route:Pilot knob Tr to Sage Pt Trail
    Start Trailhead:Brush Creek Rd Parking  790 ft / 240 m
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:715 ft / 217 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 650 ft / 198 m; Extra: 65 ft / 19m
    Gain on way out:65 ft / 19 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:Pilot knob Tr to Sage Pt Trail
    End Trailhead:Brush Creek Rd Parking  790 ft / 240 m
    Time:20 Minutes

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