Ascent of Hickorynut Mountain on 2015-04-17

Climber: Edward Earl

Others in Party:Peter Barr
Date:Friday, April 17, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Hickorynut Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3223 ft / 982 m

Ascent Trip Report

From I-40 in Black Mtn, take exit 64 to NC-9 and follow it ~15 miles southbound to Old Fort Rd (aka Old US 64 or CR-2791) at (35.5235N, 82.2491W). Turn L and follow it ~5 miles to the entrance of the Gateway Mountain community by a large stone sign at (35.5402N, 82.1965W). A much smaller, ordinary street sign identifies the road as McKenzie Way. If you reach the McDowell county line and the road changes to Bat Cave Rd aka CR-1103, you've gone a few tenths of a mile too far. Set odometer to 0.0 here. At mile 0.2, enter a gate which is sometimes open but often requires a code. I was able to procure access; contact me for more information. At mile 0.4, make a sharp right switchback to stay on McKenzie Way. At mile 0.5, turn L on McKenzie Way N. At 1.1 miles, stay straight where Gateway Parkway goes sharp L. At 2.3 miles, the road makes a hard sharp L. At 2.8 miles, turn L on Gateway Parkway followed immediately by R onto Sally Gap. At 3.1 miles, turn R on Wolf Pen. At 3.4 miles, turn R, the pavement ends, and the road goes steeply downhill. Stay on Wolf Pen at several more junctions. At 4.5 miles, bad pavement temporarily returns for the next 0.1 mile amid a series of steep climbing switchbacks. At 5.0 miles, fork L onto Wolf Pen Cliffs Rd at a house on the R. This point is very close to the summit of Wolf Pen Mtn, which you can bag with just a few paces into the woods. The road then descends. At mile 5.6, go L at fork where the R fork is a driveway identified by a sign that says "Moon Mountain". After this point the road descends very steeply and only a vehicle with 4WD and granny gear can climb back up. If that's not you, park here. Otherwise, continue 0.3 more miles to where you can park in a clearing on the L.

From this point it is ~50 feet elevation down the now abandoned road to England Gap, then you start climbing up Hickorynut Mtn itself. The road is steep and rutted and contains several junctions, but whenever you have a choice, you should always go L, staying on the crest of the ridge. The one exception to this rule is at 35.5611N, 82.1306W, where a L turn goes to a view of Mt Mitchell (and it will soon be obvious that this way does not continue to the summit of Hickorynut Mtn). The road then passes very close to both summits of Hickorynut Mtn. I found no way to tell which is higher, as both are forested.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:943 ft / 286 m
    Extra Gain:160 ft / 48 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:SE ridge
    Trailhead:England Gap  2600 ft / 792 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time:40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:30 Minutes

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