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Ascent of Onslow County High Point on 2016-02-28

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Charles Zerphey
Date:Sunday, February 28, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Onslow County High Point
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:112 ft / 34 m

Ascent Trip Report

The key to conquering Onslow is found at onslowcountync.gov/GIS. The 5-foot contours are helpful, but the crucial revelations are horizontal rather than vertical. The western county line is wrong on the USGS quad, and the corrected boundary rules out several of the candidates.

The USGS quad shows the boundary running straight from the Duplin/Jones/Onslow corner to NC24. But according to the Onslow tax maps, the boundary actually bends a couple of times, and generally runs further east that what is shown on the quad.

Assuming that the county knows its own boundaries, there are just three 115-foot contours, and you can drive within shouting distance of all three. Still, you shouldn't take Onslow lightly.

The areas south of Potters Hill Road are now used by horseback riders who have cut a number of new trails that are not evident on the topo or satellite photos. This can be disorienting.

To access the southern areas, take Brinson Lane north from NC 24 at a sign for Whipporwill Campground. (Brinson Lane is in Duplin County, though it appears to be in Onslow on the USGS map.) Follow the gravel road through the campground and continue on the dirt riding trails, which are driveable. At two forks, stay left. The second fork you will take the road signed TRAIL and avoid the one signed SPUR. Follow this road until it turns to the northeast, crossing into Onslow County (unsigned) and ending at a pond. One of the HPs is in thick brush inside this curve. The land here does rise noticeably a few feet. This is Area 4 on Shannon Dillmore's LiDAR map. My GPS put it at N34.93741 W77.65355 (NAD 27 datum).

Dillmore's Area 7 may be on the county line and should be visited. So should his Area 10, which has a 115 contour on the county map. But other 115-foot contours he identified (Areas 1 and 8) as well as the 114-footers (Areas 5, 6, and 9) are west of the actual county line. Areas 2, 3, and 11 are in Onslow County but do not register as 115-foot contours on the county LiDAR survey. You'll probably cross Area 2 en route to Area 4.

The northern area is a skinny ridge north of Potters Hill Road just east of the Duplin County line that appears to be a short walk through rows of timber. We parked at a pullout on the county line and tried to follow the rows N/NE to the ridge. This area had been clear-cut when Dillmore visited in 2008, and it has been replanted in pines that have not grown enough to choke out the briars. Also, it's nearly impossible to discern the ridge, because the land was so heavily rutted by the loggers. No natural HP remains that I could find. Note: The road name changes from Potters Hill in Onslow County to Kirby Thigpen in Duplin County. The county line is signed only on the Duplin side.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
This map is a screenshot from the Onslow County GIS website, showing the location of the three 115-foot contours. (2015-01-27). Photo by Tom Layton.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:30 ft / 9 m
    Total Elevation Loss:20 ft / 6 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:30 ft / 9 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Start Trailhead:82 ft / 24 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:20 ft / 6 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    End Trailhead:92 ft / 28 m



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