Randolph County Highpoint Trip Report

Shepard Mtn

Date: January 26, 2006
Author: Brian Bockhahn

I finally was able to get permission to hike the mountain. The Retreat staff were more than willing to accommodate. Using directions in the last post, continue into the retreat and park at the Hedgecock Center. When I checked in at the office, they asked if I would like a key to the observation tower on the summit! I said yes without knowing what they meant and they handed me the key to the fire tower! Several trails start from behind the center and go down to the big white cross by the lake. From the cross, easily find and follow a steep trail to the summit with signs for "tower".

After a steep climb and switchbacks I arrived at the summit area. I unlocked and climbed the huge fire tower and was treated with distant views of Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and the Uwharrie Mountain range. The top portion of the tower was mostly enclosed with a few missing windows. The wind was really picking up and the top swayed but I still felt safe. A giant cross hung from here, assumedly lit up at night. I then went over to the summit with radio towers which looked a little higher but found no BM at either summit. Andy's book lists two spots. I wandered until I was satisfied and returned back the way I came when I was joined by the resident mutt.

The secretary said that one other hiker had called and came by to hike up to the top but that I was the first county highpointer. Anyone else wishing to hike it can call 336-629-4085 for permission, Monday through Friday from 8 am - noon. If you hike during these times you could probably be lucky enough to borrow the key to the tower, especially if you mention you're a highpointer.

I was tempted last time to sneak up the posted gravel road to the summit but I guess good things come to those who wait; it was a much more enjoyable to hike a trail and get a bonus fire tower ascent!