Dickenson County High Point Trip Report

"Birch Gap" on Pine Mountain (3,149 ft)

Date: June 10, 2001
Author: Fred Lobdell

This excellent high point is a two-state twofer, being the HP of both Pike Co., KY and Dickenson Co., VA. It is a rocky prominence with a fine 360-degree view.

The topographic map (Clintwood quadrangle) shows this as "Birch Gap". As Andy Martin notes in his compilation, a gap is a saddle or low point along a ridge, and therefore the map must be mistaken. A local with whom we spoke, and who seemed quite knowledgeable about the area, referred to this as Birch Knob, a much more reasonable name.

From the intersection of VA 72 and VA 83 in the hamlet of Georges Fork, take 83 east about 1.5 miles to its intersection with county 631. Turn left (north) on 631 and go about 3 miles to a fork where county 611 goes right (north), just after crossing the Pound River. (This intersection is shown as Isom, but no community is in evidence.) Continue north on 611 for about 2.5 miles, to where 611 makes a sharp right turn. Turn left here into the good-quality gravel road. This road is shown on the topographic map and Allen de Hart, in his Virginia hiking guidebook, refers to this as Mullins Road, but it is not signed as such. The only sign was a small brown sign reading "616"; this is Forest Service road 616.

Drive up FS 616 for between 2.5 and 3 miles to a fork. The right fork leads downhill a short distance to a large parking area at Mullins Pond. (The same local mentioned above told us that this, too, was wrong; he called it something like "J P Post".) The left fork is the one you want, but requires a 4-WD, high-clearance vehicle beyond this point. We continued another 1.7 miles in Bob Packard's pick-up to Jesse Gap, where we felt it best to park rather than continue on the increasingly rough road.

From here it is about another three-quarters of a mile to the summit, with an elevation gain of about 530 feet. Walk (or drive) generally east-northeast on the road to where it ends on the west side of the high point. From here an ATV trail ascends a short distance north and from there a foot path goes generally east, skirting around the cliffs on the west and north sides of the summit knob. Follow this path as it goes downhill along the north side; it leads eventually to what appears to be the easiest way up through the summit boulders. On top, continue on the path back toward the west until the highest rocks are reached. The very top is marked by bench mark "Birch" and you will be rewarded with a fine panorama from the summit.