Ascent of Little Table Rock on 2013-10-27

Climber: Tom Layton

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, October 27, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Little Table Rock
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:4080 ft / 1243 m

Ascent Trip Report

On Sunday morning, I received Jeff Clark's Meanderthals blog with the Charlotte Observer story about the opening of this new trail (and two others along the Blue Ridge Parkway). Before sunset, I was here.

Little Table Rock is identified on the quad only by a benchmark name: Table Rock 3. It's not a ranked peak, because it is connected to Humpback Mountain by a ridge that never drops below 3900 feet. But it's not an insignificant peak, either. It marks the corner of Avery, Mitchell, and McDowell counties. From three sides, it rises more than 1,000 feet. There is a distinct knob on the end of the ridge, and though it is wooded, there are great viewpoints just off the summit to the NW and SW.

To reach the trailhead, turn W off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile 324.7 (Bear Den Road). Follow this road through a stop sign, where it becomes Humpback Mountain Road. A half-mile from the Parkway, turn R onto White Rocks Road, which looks like a driveway. Follow it about 200 yards, passing a couple of houses, and you'll see an open gate on the L with signs indicating access to NC game lands. Just beyond this gate is a closed gate with a large parking area on the R.

The hike follows the gated gravel road for 0.8 miles, climbing gently from 3040 to 3400 feet. Then you'll reach a sign to turn L, leaving the road and following the blue-blazed trail up the hillside. The trail has not been heavily used, so pay close attention to the blazes, especially in switchbacks or where the route follows and leaves old logging roads. There is a trickling spring at 3700 feet. At 4000 feet, you reach the ridge and another sign which points L. Follow a 4-wheeler track along the ridge to Little Table Rock. The last 100 yards are steep, but that's what makes it worthwhile.

I couldn't find a benchmark, but there is a new sign on the summit. The short path to the right leads down to a ledge with a great view of the North Toe River valley and the Roan Highlands from Roan High Knob across Grassy Ridge and Yellow Mountain to Hump Mountain. You may see a survey stake for UNIMIN, the name of the Belgian company that operates the mines in Mitchell County. Forgive the white scars on the hillsides. The silicon chips that enable you to read this website may be made from quartz mined down there. And the local kaolin is used in everything from toothpaste to porcelain to Kaopectate.

This overlook also offers a pilots'-eye view of the approach to the Mitchell County airport, which aligns almost perfectly with Little Table Rock. It looks dicey. In fact, if you drive east of Spruce Pine on US19E, you'll see the tail of a Cessna sticking out of the second floor of a video store. This is what's left of a plane that missed the Mitchell runway and crashed into the woods.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1120 ft / 341 m
    Extra Gain:40 ft / 12 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km
    Route:Little Table Rock trail
    Trailhead:White Rock Road trailhead  3040 ft / 926 m
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 

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