Scott County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: August 16, 2008
Author: Hiram Rogers

The area around this highpoint has seen a substantial increase in both coal and oil and gas development recently but I was glad to see that the 2002 trip descriptions are for the most part unchanged. From TN 116 at the National Coal Prep Plant, drive up the steep gravel Fork Mountain Haul Road. The road is in good shape to the tailings pond but beyond it is steeper and covered in loose, coarse gravel. Pass side roads at 1.2 and 3.2 miles before crossing the head of Indian Fork and climbing to a T junction with another well maintained gravel road at 5.7 miles. To the right on this crest road it is 1.3 miles to the start of a rough ATV trail that leads to the strip mined top of Burge Mountain. The highest point on Burge looked to be on the west or south side of the mined area.

To the left of the T junction on the crest road it is 1.7 miles to Guinea Gap where another well maintained gravel road enters from the south. Just slightly west of the gap a lightly used ATV trail climbs north through the woods to a point just slightly west of the high point of Walnut Knob. I could find no marker for the highpoint here. Just slightly east of Guinea Gap an old trail leads south to the abandoned tower site on Guinea Hill Knob. The two abandoned towers at the summit have been cut down and the remains of one small building still stand. The ATVs have not yet discovered this trail and it remains a far more pleasant walk than Walnut or Burge. With the thick vegetation of high summer I wasn’t able to tell which of Burge, Walnut or Guinea Hill Knob might be the highest.

For this trip I drove the steep section of the Fork Mountain Haul Road and then parked on the large bench at 2600 feet and explored the area on my mountain bike. My 2WD Toyota made the steep climb but a 4WD vehicle would do much better.

Most of the land in this area has been purchased by the State of Tennessee and is managed as part of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. The mineral rights are still privately owned and there have been a lot of new gas wells installed recently. The state’s Cumberland Trail will also pass through the area, probably from Coffin Spring east along a route similar to that described in the trip report from June 16, 2001. I saw two intersections of the Cumberland Trail just west of Burge Mountain but wasn’t able to explore the trail.