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Ascent to Little Pisgah Mountain-Little Pisgah Point on 2013-12-28

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, December 28, 2013
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
Point Reached:Little Pisgah Mountain - Little Pisgah Point
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3360 ft / 1024 m

Ascent Trip Report

Little Pisgah Mountain is accessible by a 10-mile roundtrip hike that starts in the Florence Nature Preserve. I did the lower half of that hike to visit two overlooks, Little Pisgah Point and Rattlesnake Knob, that are part of the White Squirrel Challenge program, sponsored by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservacy.

The Florence Nature Preserve has 600 acres and 5.4 miles of wooded trails. The trailhead is 2.5 miles east of Hickory Nut Gap on US74A, just beyond the Gerton post office and volunteer fire department. The trailhead is located on the north side of a curve and has parking for about 12 cars. It is clearly signed.

The hikes are detailed on carolinamountain.org but I found that my GPS disagreed with the posted mileage. The trails are well-blazed and easy to follow. However, you need to know that there are three separate yellow trails and two orange trails in the preserve. You'll pass several tempting springs and waterfalls, but don't drink from them, as there are cattle grazing higher on Little Pisgah Mountain.

Details of my hike:
0.0 miles/2480 elevation: Yellow Trail begins behind an old stone chimney and follows well-built switchbacks up the steep hillside.
0.3/2700: Old barn on the right.
1.0/2950: Yellow Trail crosses a creek and ends in a T intersection with the Blue Trail. Turn right (uphill).
1.3/3140: Old stone foundation on the right.
1.4/3160: Junction with second Yellow Trail on the left. Continue uphill on the Blue Trail through an area with recent storm damage.
1.7/3300: Junction with White Trail on the left. Stay on the Blue Trail.
1.8/3340: Junction with Orange Trail. Turn right and follow the Orange Trail for a quarter-mile to Little Pisgah Point. The trail ends at large boulders with winter views to the east. Retrace your steps to the Blue Trail.
2.3/3300: At the Blue-Orange junction, turn right on the Blue Trail and continue gently uphill.
2.4/3380: Cross a wide wooden bridge and reach the junction with the Red Trail. If you were hiking to the summit of Little Pisgah Mountain, you would continue up the Blue Trail, which intersects the Little Pisgah Road in about 400 yards. However, to visit Rattlesnake Knob, turn left and follow the Red trail as it descends gently along the ridgeline.
2.6/3300: Cross the White Trail and continue on Red Trail.
3.3/3080: Junction with second Orange Trail. Turn left and follow Orange Trail as it climbs 60 feet to the top of Rattlesnake Knob. There are clifftop views of Hickory Nut Gap to the NW and stone-faced Bearwallow Mountain to the SW. Retrace your steps to the Orange-Red junction and turn left to continue steeply downhill on the Red Trail.
3.8/2800: Red Trail ends at an unsigned dirt road known as Kelly Hill Road. Turn left and follow the road, continuing past a couple of summer cabins. When Kelly Hill Road makes a sharp right switchback, continue straight ahead past a No Parking sign and a cable barrier onto the trail that continues beyond. This is the Blue Trail, though it will be a little ways before you see any blazes. The No Parking sign used to be the public access point for the Florence Nature Preserve. Blue Trail contours around a ridge and then climbs alongside a cascading stream.
4.6/2960: Junction with the original Yellow Trail on the right. This is the way you came up. Turn right and continue a mile back down to the parking lot.
5.6/2480: End of hike. The entire loop took me 3 hours at an easy pace.

Rattlesnake Knob enabled me to complete the White Squirrel Challenge 2.0, which is a series of 8 easy to moderate hikes on land preserved by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. The challenge includes three ranked peaks: Bearwallow Mountain, Sharpy Mountain along the Mills River, and Cedar Rock in the DuPont State Forest. Other hikes are Worlds Edge, the Cane Creek Greenway in Fletcher, East Fork Falls, and DuPont's Bridal Veil Falls.

Little Pisgah Point was part of the White Squirrel Challenge 1.0.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1180 ft / 359 m
    Total Elevation Loss:300 ft / 91 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.7 mi / 9.2 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:880 ft / 268 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Start Trailhead:Florence Nature Preserve trailhead, US 74, Gerton  2480 ft / 755 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 5.9 km



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