Alleghany County High Point Trip Report

Big Knob (4,072 ft)

Date: May 18, 2000
Author: Fred Lobdell

I am indebted to Bill and Laurel Foot who very kindly provided me with a manuscript copy of their description of this climb. [The Foots are working on a guidebook to Virginia's 4,000-ft peaks.] Big Knob lies in the George Washington National Forest, about 5 miles northeast of the city of Covington, Va.

From Exit 16 on westbound I-64, turn right (northeast) at the foot of the ramp and turn left (west) onto US 60. (From eastbound I-64, turn left at the foot of the ramp and follow the same directions.) Go about 0.7 miles to E. Dolly Ann Road. (This is marked as county 625 on both the topographic map and the VA DeLorme, but is not signed as such at this intersection.) Turn right (northeast) and follow this road for about 6 miles to the trailhead (located just northeast of BM 2454 on the topographic map) for the Dry Run Trail, marked by a brown Forest Service sign. (The pavement ends after about 1.3 miles and the road becomes Forest Service road 125. This is a good-quality gravel road passable by any sort of vehicle.) Turn left into the sizable parking area.

Passenger cars will need to park at the trailhead, but high-clearance vehicles will probably not have a lot of trouble ascending another 2.3 miles to a height of land on the southwest ridge of Bald Knob. From this point everybody walks; the road is gated.

Hikers from the trailhead will gain about 1,400 feet of elevation in the 2.3 miles of road, rising at a moderate grade. From here the road descends about 150 feet in 0.3 miles to the saddle between Bald Knob and Big Knob. At this saddle, turn left (west) and continue to follow the road (now blazed with orange diamonds) as it rises about 200 feet in about 0.7 miles to a height of land. From here it is necessary to bushwhack north to the saddle between Big Knob and the unnamed 4,050-ft. knob to its east. A faint use trail helps. This trail continues toward the west, and the crest of Big Knob, after the saddle is reached. Continue bushwhacking toward the summit for several hundred feet until a tangle of rhododendron or mountain laurel is reached. The remaining 300 feet or so is a rather unpleasant bushwhack. At one point I crawled on hands and knees, taking care to avoid piles that were obvious sign of bear. (Fortunately, I didn't meet any of the pile-producers.) Keep heading generally west and slightly uphill until a group of rocks is reached. A few feet beyond this the Foots erected a small cairn on what seems to be the highest ground in the vicinity. Following time-honored tradition, I added a stone to the cairn.

From this point, the Foots suggested bushwhacking southeast, and indeed it seemed easier to go in that direction, or due south. After descending about 175 feet or so you should intersect the road you walked up. Turn left and return to your vehicle.