Ascent of Locust Knob on 2017-12-01

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Spencer Layton
Date:Friday, December 1, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Locust Knob
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:4080 ft / 1243 m

Ascent Trip Report

The road to the summit is gated and posted. The gate was open, and the road was easily driveable, but I didn't want to take a chance with a confrontation or getting locked in, so I walked up from 3100 feet. I parked in the driveway to an undeveloped lot just outside the gate and started steeply uphill, staying to the right of a rocky ravine and power line. After about 300 yards, I intercepted the road and followed it the rest of the way. There was more forbidding signage near the top but I walked past it. I noticed the road had been freshly driven, but there were two homes up there and neither was occupied. When I got to the top, I encountered a CSX truck at the top tower--fitted with railroad wheels that can be used to drive on the tracks. It's possible that the summit tower is used by CSX, since their tracks go through the Toe River gorge just west of Locust Knob. The driver didn't seem to have any objection to me trespassing--he was on the phone so we didn't get a chance to talk. The lookout tower appeared to be in good shape and was open for climbing, but I didn't want to push my luck so I didn't climb it.

If the gate is locked, it would be simple to walk around and follow the road all the way. I'm estimating that this route would be about 1.7 miles each way. My route was 3 miles round trip, but if I had to do it again, I would avoid the bushwhack.

To reach the gate, set your GPS for 1600 Sunset Mountain Road, Bakersville NC. The development itself is not gated, and the roads are partly paved. Street signs are sparse. After the pavement ends for the second time, you basically contour across the SW side of the mountain until you reach the gate. Ignore the side roads that head uphill--these are dead ends.

Locust Knob is one of 95 NC peaks with 1,000 feet of prominence. I’ve climbed 53 of those.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:980 ft / 298 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:Bushwhack & Tower Road
    Trailhead:Sunset Mountain Road  3100 ft / 944 m
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack

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