Greene County High Point Trip Report

Camp Creek Bald (4,844 ft) and Gravel Knob (4,840+ ft)

Dates: November 28, 1997 and July 16, 1998
Author: Fred Lobdell

General: There are two candidates for the highest point in Greene County, and it is not known for certain which is higher. However, personal observation suggests that Gravel Knob is higher, an observation also made by others who have done these two points. The summit of Big Butt, only about a half mile northwest of Gravel Knob, is shown as having an elevation of 4,838 feet. The summit of Gravel Knob, easily visible from Big Butt, appears to be substantially higher than this, by perhaps 20 or 30 feet. If the 4,838-foot figure is correct, then it would seem that Gravel Knob must also be higher than Camp Creek Bald at a 4,844-foot elevation. Both summits are on the North Carolina - Tennessee state line, and just off the Appalachian Trail, and are therefore accessible. The route given below for Gravel Knob seems to be the shortest one, but there are other side trails that also access the Appalachian Trail in the vicinity.

Camp Creek Bald (November 28, 1997): From the intersection of US 25 and 70 with NC 208, go northeast on 208 about 5 miles to the NC/TN state line, where it becomes TN 70. Continue on 70 for another 0.3 mile and turn right (north) on Bald Mountain Road. Follow this road for 8.4 miles to a large parking area just below the summit. The road forks in a couple of places; keep heading uphill. Park at the parking area. The road continues on to the summit, but is much rougher for the last couple of hundred feet. Walk up the dirt road to the summit. I found no bench mark, but there is a concrete block dated 1928 under the lookout tower. The Appalachian Trail is accessible via a 0.2 mile blue-blazed trail.

Gravel Knob (July 16, 1998): From the intersection of US 25 anad 70 with NC 208, go northeast on 208 about 3.5 miles to its intersection with NC 212. Turn right on 212 and go 10.7 miles to the junction with Big Creek Road. Turn left onto Big Creek Road and go about 2.3 miles, fording a small stream en route, to a parking area on the left. Park here.

The Fork Ridge Trail (labeled the Big Creek Trail on the topographic map) begins at the north side of the parking area. Follow this somewhat overgrown trail, in need of maintenance, as it ascends, sometimes moderately steeply. There are occasional yellow blazes, but they are too far apart to be of any real use. At 2.0 miles the Fork Ridge Trail intersects the Appalachian Trail. Shortly before the trail junction the Fork Ridge Trail becomes rather indistinct, but if you push on uphill you will come to the AT. Fortunately, there is a sign on the AT indicating the junction; this will help you figure out where to turn on your return trip.

Turn right and take the northbound AT for about 2.5 miles. It descends gently to Jerry Cabin, then climbs gently to Big Butt. If you ascend the summit rocks of Big Butt, you will get a fine view of Gravel Knob. Continue following the white blazes of the AT for another half mile or so. You will shortly arrive at the saddle between Big Butt and Gravel Knob, and the trail will maintain this level with little variation as it contours around the southwest side of Gravel Knob. After you pass a thicket of rhododendron, bushwhack to the summit ridge and follow it uphill to the summit. Here I didn't find a bench mark, but there was a flat rock with an X engraved in it and a nail driven into the rock at the center of the X.

A highlight of my hike was meeting Sam Waddle and two companions on the trail. Mr. Waddle is an older gentleman who was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his maintenance of Jerry Cabin and a stretch of the AT. There is an interesting article on Mr. Waddle in the most recent issue (September-October 2002) of the Appalachian Trailway News.

By this route, this is a hike of about 10 miles with about 2,400 feet of gain.