Ascent of Hawkbill Rock on 2017-06-03

Climber: Zachary Robbins

Date:Saturday, June 3, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hawkbill Rock
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:4960 ft / 1511 m

Ascent Trip Report

Even though no tower remains on Little Snowball Mountain-Northeast Peak, you are still required to hike it for the lookout tower challenge. It's an odd requirement, since there are many other mountains in NC where towers once stood, and have better views. The hike starts at Beetree Gap, briefly following the MST before beginning the Snowball Trail. There is an immediate climb up Snowball Mt, not too hard but continuous. This trail does not pass the top of Snowball, which is located left of the trail in thick shrubs. I didn't bother tagging it, but hardcore 5K peakbaggers will do it.

From there the trail gradually drops on a narrow ridge, lined with mountain laurel and Catawba rhododendron. This was a pleasant surprise, I thought I had missed the flowers for this elevation but the laurel was looking nice. There is a brief rock scramble to the top of Hawkbill Rock. This "peak" has nice views from east to west. You have a good view of Lane Pinnacle on the right, and can see Craggy Dome, Craggy Pinnacle, and Blackstock Knob in the distant east. There are better views in the region, but Hawkbill is nice enough to justify a hike. After Hawkbill most hikers turn around, but they are missing a pleasant surprise. On the wide, north ridge beyond the peak are a surprising amount of old-growth hardwood trees. I've never seen this mentioned on sites or books, but there were some giants lining the trail. I would say I passed at least 10 with a diameter over 5 feet and at least 80 feet high. It rivals the hidden old-growth on Mackey and Woods Mtns.

You'll gradually drop into Snowball Gap then pick up a forest road grade bypassing Little Snowball Mountain. This part is easy. The last half-mile is one of the best flower sections I've encountered. You'll pass through a thick tunnel of laurel and rhododendron, the laurel were looking great. The trail ends at the northeast spur of the mountain, a small grassy area where only the concrete footings remain. There are no views at all unfortunately, and the hike back to the car involves more climbing. The climb out of Snowball Gap and up to Snowball Mt is longer. Afterwards you need to drive down FR 63 to see the rebuilt tower at Big Ivy Historical Campus. If FR 63 is gated, this would be a much longer drive and definitely a hassle. I stopped at the tower for a minute, I'm not quite sure why this is necessary for the challenge.

Hike report

Hike video
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Zachary Robbins
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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.

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