White County Highpoint Trip Report

26 areas (2,000+ ft)

Date: October 2004
Author: Ken Oeser

After extensive field researching, and rechecking with landowners in 2004, here are my findings on contenders for highest of the 26 areas.

nine areas within 1.25 miles of Stringtown

The three areas north and west of Stringtown are rather small and don't seem to have much elevation gain, less than 10 feet. The northern two areas are on Bowater timber land which is leased for deer season and posted year-round. The western area is on Bridgestone/Firestone property, which is closed to public access. Of the 6 areas south and southwest of Stringtown, one is state owned, the spot elevation 2004 at the fire tower shown on the topo. The contour northeast of that is owned by the father of a man living in a trailer just east of the tower. The road to the tower crosses an arm of a large contour, and a new gravel road leads to a water tower near the center of this large contour. Each of these contours also seem to rise less than 10 feet, but they are accessible by public road.

Of the remaining two contours on the middle portion of Chestnut Mountain, the small eastern contour has little gain. The large, elongated contour with a saddle halfway along it seems to be the highest point in White County. Years ago, on a legally permitted trip (we were told "One Time Only!"), this large contour was checked very well, following an old dirt road along the ridge. It is believed that there is at or over 5 feet of gain from the edges of the contour below the saddle to the saddle proper and another gain of over 5 feet from the saddle to the westernmost summit within this contour, making the elevation here over 2010 feet, likely pushing 2015 feet elevation. The catch here, however, is that permission is no longer allowed in any way. Bridgestone/Firestone headquarters were contacted in Nashville, TN, and we were told no public access is allowed due to liability concerns, although they are aware that there is a law on the TN books that protects landowners in TN from liability for injuries, etc. to hikers, among other activities. They don't even allow their own employees on the property. The ranger who patrols the many gravel roads crisscrossing this 5000 acres in a 4WD for Bridgestone/Firestone also denied access when contacted, stating company policy.

seventeen areas 2-3 miles east and northeast of DeRossett

A few of these have elevations on the map. After checking these contours out, most seem to have 5 or less feet of elevation gain. BM 2007 seems to be as high as anything in its contour. The second from the east just below Highway 70, 0.4 mile west of the Cumberland county line, was thought to have about 10 feet of gain but a revisit looking at the location of the next lowest contour now has me doubtful of that. The road cut on Highway 70, just above the next lower contour, is about 15 feet high but there is less than 5 feet of gain from there to the house on the highpoint. So now, of all these 17 points, I think the highest is likely the spot elevation 2009, which can be reached with permission from the house on the previously mentioned spot or the next house west near the BM 2007. BM 2007 could not be located by the Oesers.

In summary, the likely highpoint of the county is on highly restricted property owned by Bridgestone/Firestone, along the ridge of Chestnut Mountain, at Internet-obtained coordinates (35° 52' 44" N, 85° 18' 57" W).

The company donated 10,000 acres to the state of TN several years ago and if we're lucky they will find a reason to donate the remaining 5000 acres to the state. If so, hiking from the water tower (near the fire tower) would be the shortest route, about 1.25 miles one way. It would be about 7 miles round trip from the Virgin Falls trailhead.

Tennessee Trespass Law 39-14-405 (looked up under http://www.jesbeard.com/tpi14_05.htm) states that knowingly entering private property without the owners permission is guilty of a crime, in this case a Class C misdemeanor. Bridgestone/Firestone posts their property boundaries, so that would just back up their case if they caught someone on the property.

If I hear of any changes in access for the B/F property containing 4-5 of the 2,000+ foot contours in the coming months or years, I will relay that information to the group.