Ascent of Laurel Mountain-Elliot Benchmark on 2015-04-21

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Laurel Mountain-Elliot Benchmark
    Location:USA-West Virginia
    Elevation:3157 ft / 962 m

Ascent Trip Report

Visit to all 3 areas plus another peak.... 9 miles, 4:30 hours RT excluding driving between areas.

Barbour County was formed in 1843 and named for Philip Pendleton Barbour (1783-1841) a US congressman from Virginia and associate justice of the US Supreme Court. As of 2010 census its population was 16,589, its county seat is Philippi.

This county has 3 areas all on the Laurel Mountain ridge.... one at the Elliott Benchmark and the other two 8 miles to the south. My source of information was Michael Schwartz's TR, my approach however somewhat different. One must read Michael for additional info. I first visited Elliott Benchmark.

LAUREL MOUNTAIN-ELLIOTT BENCHMARK .... road walk with a short wack, 3 miles, 1:40 hours RT.

The county could do a better job putting up road signs at all junction and maintaining the roads. I approached from the southeast, starting at the city of Parsons.
From the junction of Hwy #219/72 in the center of town (sheetz on corner) I zeroed my odo and drove north on Hwy #72
00.0M ... left the junction northbound on #72.
00.4M ... turned left (northwest) on paved Smoke Hollow Road CR17.
03.5M ... turned left (west) on the paved Clover Run Road CR21
09.2M ... arrived at an unsigned junction (39.14579,-79.80883), left is the continuation of Clover Run Road a very small dirt road which gets very rough at a short distance (I checked it out and had to turn around). I stayed straight (north) on the paved road which looks to be the continuation of CR21 but its name is now Streets Hill Road.
10.8M ... arrived at the end of Streets Hill Road, a T-Junction with Texas Mountain Road CR19. Nothing is signed here except for a small sign "Harkins" pointing left. A right here on the paved Texas Mountain Road will bring you to Hwy #38 in 2.5 miles (per Michael's TR). I turned left on the dirt (lesser) Texas Mountain Road CR19 (Michael's route).
10.9M ... pass Sawmill Road on the right (goes Harkins), Texas Mountain Road climbs steeply.
11.4M ... road bends right/left (private gated driveway on left) and begins a very steep descent and gets very rough.
11.7M ... arrive at a signed T-Junction (39.15954,-79.82304) which used to be Brushy Fork (Roads have been renamed). To the right is Quiet Dell Road CR8. I turned left on Clover Run Road CR21.
12.0M ... arrived at an unsigned fork, left descends steeply and I believe is Clover Run Road, right is a private gated road and my hiking route. I parked here this was my TH (39.15602,-79.82645).

I walked the gravel road west .3 miles to the clearing at the saddle (2640' elev) north of Knob 2905 (as shown on topo) and as Michael reports there is a Hunters Camp here, signed "Hoffman Camp". 3 roads leave the clearing ... south (ungated), west and north (both gated).
I took the west road (a very good wide gravel road) as it circles the Knob 2905 counterclockwise to its saddle on the south side (a huge cairn here), then makes its way southwest on the slopes of the mountain to the west side of the summit .... the very good road ending at a clearing at about 2800+' elevation (see satellite image) and approx 1 mile from the Hoffman Camp (it descends about 100' at the start then climbs gradually) .... 2 lesser grass roads leave this clearing, west and south. This road walk offers outstanding open views to the west.

I took the lesser south road just before the clearing (39.14594,-79.83856) as it heads/winds southeast and peters out at about .3 miles just west/below the summit. I turned left and wacked (very open woods) up the slope 200 yards to the Elliott Benchmark "USC&G SURVEY, ELLIOTT, 1941", imbedded in a rock at about 30 yards east of the red/blue blazes marking the National Forest Boundary Line. I added orange tape to the spot.
I don't know the County Line location so I stomped the area including the Forest Boundary Line to my satisfaction.

I backtracked to the TH and drove south to the other 2 areas.

TWO AREAS 8 MILES SOUTH OF THE ELLIOTT BENCHMARK. ..... 6 miles, 2:45 hours RT including the Lookout Tower.

I used Michael's alternate approach. From the north side of Elkins, junction of #219 and Laurel Mountain Road CR11, I drove CR11 north to the Laurel Mountain Ridge with its junction with the service road for the wind farm (BM 2693, GPS 39.00046,-79.88844). I parked here this was my TH. The 2 areas are to the north at about 3 miles (or .5 miles north of the Belington BM).

A huge wind farm is now on the this part of the Laurel Mountain Ridge complete with a service road. It has a total of 61 turbines with 44 being in Barbour County and 17 in Randolph County. Its construction has removed/disturbed the original ridge throughout its length .... the spoils of green energy. The first Wind Mill north of CR11 is #WTG30 and the one at the 2 areas is #WTG13.

I walked the service road to the 2 areas (spot elevation 3130' shown on topo and to the other contour 200 yards further north). I chose the existing highest grounds at 39.03591,-79.87291 and 39.03705,-79.87226 respectively. The southern area (spot elevation 3130') is much lower in elevation.
Everything west of these spots (with turbines and road) has been all removed and is much much lower in elevation. My chosen spots (on the existing remaining high ground) are definitely not natural .... the rough ground has been bulldozed, lot of tree stumps, a real mess in case of the northern area.
The County Line is on the ridge, but I could not identify its exact location.

NB: -- I've concluded that these 2 remaining areas are not natural and not candidates, and need not be visited.

On the return trip I looked-for/couldn't find the Belington BM, the area has been removed/leveled smooth. I had planned to add this BM to the PB Library.
I backtracked to the TH, taking a side trip to the Lookout Tower on the way.


I visited this summit on my return and added it as provisional to the PB Library. Its noted that its the only area on the Laurel Ridge that has not been disturbed by the Wind Mill farm construction.

This summit is capped with a small Communication Tower and an old block building, its located 100 yards east of the service road and .3 miles north of the TH (before Wind Mill #WTG30). A tower road leaves CR11 besides the Wind Mill road.
The old Lookout Tower (to the east) is no longer, its now a monitoring station of sorts.

I saw a mama bear with 2 cubs at about 40 yards as I reached the area, she quickly left with the 2 cubs right behind her.


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1564 ft / 476 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1564 ft / 475 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1264 ft / 385 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 464 ft / 142 m; Extra: 800 ft / 243m
    Loss on way in:800 ft / 243 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:visit to all 3 areas
    Start Trailhead:laurel muntain road CR11  2693 ft / 820 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:764 ft / 232 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 464 ft / 142 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:visit to all 3 areas
    End Trailhead:laurel muntain road CR11  2693 ft / 820 m

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