Ascent of Cross Mountain on 2017-07-30

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Vince Kloster
Date:Sunday, July 30, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Summit:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Cross Mountain
    Elevation:3534 ft / 1077 m

Ascent Trip Report

We followed Ben Lostracco's excellent directions and drove up on a Sunday so we didn't have to deal with truck traffic from the coal mines. The road is rough in places, but I wouldn't be afraid to try it in my car. Of course, my car is 20 years old. Be careful.

There's not much natural land left among the communication towers on the summit, and you have to wander a bit to make sure you've covered the highest ground. We found a primitive benchmark on the highest bump inside the driveway loop--a square stone chiseled with the letters "USGS" and the cardinal directions.

As the highest point in the Cumberland plateau, Cross Mountain is one of 25 Southeastern peaks with at least 2,000 feet of prominence. It's a layer-cake of coal, as evidenced on the USGS topo that shows strip mines following the contours around the mountain. The communities you drive through at the foot of the mountain, Fraterville and Briceville, were the victims of two of Tennessee's worst coal-mining disasters in 1902 and 1911, respectively. It's said that there were only three men left in Fraterville afterwards.

The summit clearing is ringed by trees, and the only long-range views are down the powerline cut on the south slope. But if Cross Mountain was a bald or had a tower (envision a state park!), the panorama would be unparalleled. According to, you could see five states. On a crisp, clear day, the horizon would stretch as far as Snake Mtn NC, 141 miles east across the upper Tennessee valley. Three distant state highpoints would be visible: Mount Mitchell NC 114 miles southeast, Clingmans Dome TN 60 miles southeast, and Black Mountain KY 89 miles northeast. The view would also include Big Bald GA 100 miles south and High Knob VA 101 miles northeast.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Old survey maker on Cross Mountain, aka The Flagpole, highest point in the Cumberland Mountain range (2017-07-30). Photo by Tom Layton.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Quality:1 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.2 km
    Start Trailhead:3534 ft / 1077 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.2 km

This page has been served 198 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2019 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service