Ralls County Highpoint Trip Report

22 areas - including 859 ft BM Gibbs (840+ ft)

Date: May 21, 2007
Author: Bob Schwab

While Andy Martinís book indicates this county has 22 contours at 840+ feet (7 in Hannibal SE quad, 15 in Ashburn quad, and 1 in Hannibal East quad), there are really just a few areas that are likely candidates for the county highpoint. The topo maps are drawn in 20 foot intervals and, since BM Gibbs is shown as 859 feet on the topo map (BM is listed as 860 feet in the NGS data sheets), unless one detects a considerable rise within one of these other contours, the probable county highpoint is at or near BM Gibbs. For whatever itís worth, I think I detected a 23rd contour at the rest area along Route 79, just east of several of the larger contours along the ridge (see the tiny mark on the topo map, in the center of the rest area). However, since this area barely gets to 840 feet, it is clearly not the county highpoint.

The contours with significant gain that must be investigated are 1) the three largest contours east of Malarun Road in the Hannibal SE quad, 2) the contours along the ridge on both sides of Route 79 in Ashburn quad, and 3) the large contours north of Route T in Ashburn quad, including BM Gibbs.

For the contours east of Malarun, find Malarun Road along Route T and turn north. In about 0.6 mile, bear right and continue north. After another 0.9 mile (~1.5 from Route T), watch for what looks like a driveway going off to the right signed Raymond. If you get to Oak Hill Road, youíve gone too far. Drive all the way up this dirt road (Raymond) to a white trailer in a meadow and ask permission to continue up through the pasture to the highpoint area. I believe the name of the folks living there was Dougherty. Their in-laws live in the house just down the drive (name is Caswell). They were friendly and granted permission to continue across the pasture/meadow to investigate the HP area. Hike east, then north along this ridge to some good views. There are three distinct contours here but I think the first (southern) area is the highest. Do a tick check before getting back into your car!

To visit the contours along Route 79, drive south on Malarun and return to Route T, turn left and continue east to Route 79 Turn north on Route 79 and watch for the second rest area on your left (the first viewpoint is still in Pike County). Park at the rest area (Check my tiny bump #23 out near the picnic tables!), cross the street and walk into the field to the north. You can also investigate two obviously small areas on either side of the highway a short distance west. I then followed a drive to the southwest in to a home that appeared to sit on the ridge that contains several contours trending toward the southwest. The young man I met there said I could walk down into the woods and visit a couple of the contours but they didnít own the whole ridge, so I couldnít get to BM Gibbs from there. Continue driving north on Route 79 from this driveway as it curves to the right. This is a very large contour cresting the ridge. The highest spot seems to be in the front yard of a nice house on your left. The owners were friendly and the obvious bump in their front yard near the trees hand levels higher than anything else you can see either across the street, or north, or south. As you descend their driveway, note the second house (going north) on your right. Both houses on the right side of Route 79 sit on 840+ foot contours but the smaller one to the north (15732 Highway 79) is owned by John Cernea and he controls access to BM Gibbs. He was very friendly and granted me permission to visit the contours north of Route T, including BM Gibbs. The last contour along this ridge thatís worth investigating can be accessed from a path that breaks off the highway about 0.3 mile beyond Mr. Cerneaís driveway, just as the road descends.

To visit the contours north of Route T, drive west back to Route T from Route 79. Watch for the Pike/Ralls County line sign. After traveling about 0.8 mile from the county line, watch for a small abandoned house on the left and a gate on the right side of the highway. Mr. Cernea gave me permission to enter this gate and drive up a track that heads up the ridge toward BM Gibbs. Downed trees stopped me after about 0.5 mile but I hiked up this track to a more open, meadow-like area. Here you can go left to visit the southernmost contour and then right toward BM Gibbs. The meadow ends at some woods with a hunterís blind but continue into the woods just a short distance to the highest ground. I found BM Gibbs had been uprooted and was laying on its side. From BM Gibbs, you can continue southeast then northeast along the ridge to a third, non-descript contour on this ridge.

In summary, while there are some small 840 foot contours in this county that I have not described, I am confident that the highest ground in Ralls County is either the first contour east of the Doughertyís home, in the front yard of the neighbors who live diagonally across Route 79 from Mr. Cernea, or probably the contour containing BM Gibbs (859 or 860 feet, depending on which agency you trust). If you visit in the spring, thoroughly check yourself for ticks before getting back into your car. I was finding them up to two days later!