Ascent of Flagpole Mountain on 2018-03-31

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, March 31, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Flagpole Mountain
    Elevation:1968 ft / 599 m

Ascent Trip Report

As far as I can determine, Flagpole Mountain is the Cherokee County high point and the 14th highest named high point in Alabama. The standard route's trailhead follows the Pinhoti Trail beginning at 34.00650 N 85.45792 W with a distance of 2.26 air miles to the summit. With the many switchbacks the actual hiking distance is quite a bit longer. Several years earlier when I was scouting a route up Flagpole Mountain, before I knew about the Pinhoti Trail, I found a spot only 1.64 air miles from the summit located in the back of a cemetery at 34.01297 N 85.44441 W. There is no trail here, but the bushwhacking did not look difficult. I was getting a late start (4:13 PM), so I decided to use my shorter route this time. The bushwhacking never got bad, but my path did get steep in places, however, I did intersect the Pinhoti Trail at 5:26 PM after covering 1.5 miles of off trail hiking. This trail, of course, took me right to the summit and I was there in just 14 minutes after covering a total of 2.1 miles from my starting point. I found a directional benchmark on the summit, but I did not find the summit benchmark. Someone left an American flag on a tall pole and there is even a fire pit with an old metal chair. It's hard to imagine someone carrying a metal chair all the way to this summit! Before I left the summit I thought about bagging the Polk County to the east, but my GPS indicated it was another .78 mile away. I decided not to attempt it since it was late and I chose to descend using the Pinhoti Trail because I was tired of bushwhacking and I was not looking forward to the steep descent, however, at 6:58 PM I noticed that I was only .25 mile from the route I came up on and I could even see the cemetery where I parked my car only .46 mile away. Since I still had over a mile to reach the Pinhoti Trailhead and from there I would have another .9 mile of road hiking to get back to my car, I decided to start bushwhacking again and made a direct line to my car. At 7:23 PM, I was back at my car after covering 2.55 miles from the summit in 1.5 hours. If I ever decide to return to Flagpole Mountain, I believe I would use the cemetery trailhead again, but this time I would bushwhack straight north .5 mile to the Pinhoti Trail and then, of course follow it to the summit. This route would save a lot of distance and the half mile of bushwhacking is not that difficult nor steep.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack

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