Ascent of Snake Mountain on 2017-04-02

Climber: Zachary Robbins

Date:Sunday, April 2, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Snake Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5560 ft / 1694 m

Ascent Trip Report

I've been looking forward to Snake Mountain for a long time. Snake Mt and Elk Knob stand out as the twin towers of the Amphibolite Mountains from many views in the region (you can add Rich Mountain Bald as the 3rd tower). Using trip reports and GPS tracks on here, (thanks everyone), I started at the northern trailhead on Meat Camp Rd. The forest road is very steep, and when it ends it only gets steeper. The scramble trail from the forest road is among the most spectacular hikes in NC. You'll climb up a boulder field with grass and nothing else, giving you views of The Peak and Elk Knob plus Snake Mt overhead. Any one of these massive outcrops would be a destination itself on a normal hike. Once you get close to the 5400' contour the trail turns south and now you are following the crest of the mountain. The upper building for the Sunalei Reserve is hundreds of feet below, while Meat Camp Rd is over 1200' below. This is the closest comparison to hiking in the Cascades near Seattle I've experienced. To the north are the Iron Mtns, including Whitetop Mt and Mt Rogers, the two tallest peaks in VA. Old Field Bald, Bluff Mt, and Three Top Mt are between The Peak and Elk Knob.

When the trail turns south you pass a campsite then the scramble trails begin splitting. It gets really steep in sections climbing straight up rock faces, there are also bypass trails but I found the ones on the west go nowhere while the ones on the east are fine. Soon you'll reach the north peak. This is a fun section because the ridge is less than 5 feet wide with heath shrubs waist high, you are on top of the world. The dominant profile of Snake Mt lies ahead, and the descent/ascent to this peak is much easier than it looks. From here the trail is through northern hardwood forests over the 3 knobs of the south summit, which is the high point of Snake Mt. Keep going south beyond the third knob and soon you'll reach the wide open grass field towering high above Rich Mountain Gap. Rich Mountain Bald, Grandfather Mt, the ski mtns, the Black Mtns, the Roan Highlands, and whatever is in TN is visible from here. It is yet another awesome spot. I turned around here and headed back. The trail drops 1100' straight down to the gap. This is the shorter approach, but much steeper. I would recommend my route, it seems like a better overall experience.

Full hike info and video
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1452 ft / 442 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1452 ft / 442 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Start Trailhead:4108 ft / 1252 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Zachary Robbins
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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