Frederick County High Point Trip Report

Date: September 11, 2001
Author: Michael Schwartz

Approach I: I approached this one by taking US 50 west from Winchester, VA. Use CR 614/Black Mountain Road, shown on Delorme. This turnoff to the south is very near a railroad grade crossing of US 50, and CR 614 crosses the railroad. At 2.0 miles, Hayfield Road joins Black Mountain Road from the right. At 8.5 miles, reach Mountain Falls Blvd. on the right, which enters the private community, Mountain Falls Park, owned by the Wilde Acres Property Owners Association. This community is a work in progress of many years standing, and is shown on Delorme and the topo. I stopped in at the office and visited with a woman named Ronnie, who runs the office. She was very hospitable and showed me a large map with the same street pattern on the topo. The uppermost streets, which might afford reasonable access to the mountain, are under development, and some may exist only on paper. Those with more knowledge were not available this day, and so I proceeded further south to attempt the power-line route shown on the topo. At least 2/3 of the way up the mountain, an excellent dirt road crosses the power line and may well run northeast to Wilde Acres. From Ronnie's hospitality, I got the impression that permission could be obtained to hike from Wilde Acres, and considering the difficulty of the route I took, future cohp'ers should investigate access from Wilde Acres.

Approach II: From Wilde Acres, continue south on Black Mountain Road, crossing under a power line at 1.4 miles. Stop and observe its route over the mountain, noting intermediate ridges that will be hiked over. Reach an offset intersection with Wardensville Grade Road at 1.5, go right on Wardensville, and at 1.6 go right onto Burr Lane. I assume this is the better dirt road shown on the topo just west of the cemetery. I saw neither the church nor the cemetery. Note also that this area is covered on the Mountain Falls quad, which does not show the power line. The Capon Springs quad, just to the north, shows the power line, as do Delorme and the 1:100,000 topo. You can extrapolate the position of the power line and the dirt road south onto the Mountain Falls quad. Burr Lane meanders around several private homes and eventually reaches a spot just into the woods off the power line right-of-way (r.o.w.) where there is room to park a vehicle or two. No postings. From here a 4WD, high clearance vehicle could drive more than half way up the mountain. I believe this point is in the area where the 1,000-foot contour broadens out and is shaped like a foot.

Final note: The Burr Lane turnoff is 3.2 miles northeast of VA 55 via Pifer Road and Wardensville Grade.

Hike: From the trailhead, climb almost immediately on the r.o.w. to a low ridge, from which the upper mountain comes into view. The route ahead involves some typical r.o.w. ups and downs, and as you approach the base of the significant climb to the intermediate Fall Ridge, the grassy road you are following enters the woods to the left, climbs out of sight of the r.o.w., eventually circles back to the right, crosses the r.o.w., circles to the right and then back to the r.o.w., topping out at about 1800 feet on Fall Ridge. Before the road turned into the woods, another grassy road went left, and may well join up with "my" road, as there is quite a maze of roads on the mountain. In all cases, the direct approach on the r.o.w. tends to be much steeper and overgrown with nasty briars. From Fall Ridge, the r.o.w. dips slightly, then climbs to the good dirt road mentioned in Approach I. This stretch is particularly overgrown, so instead, take the continuation of the grassy road to the SW side of the r.o.w. about 200 feet, then bushwhack parallel to the r.o.w. to reach the dirt road. This is also somewhat overgrown, but much easier going. Once you reach the dirt road, a very steep 600-foot climb to the main ridge looms, 100% bushwhacking. I followed the r.o.w. uphill, with a lot of hand work on slabby rock required. I bushwhacked the woods to the SW side coming downhill, which was slightly easier, but still very steep. Either way, the briars are bad. Topping out on the ridge almost due south of the summit, the ridge line heading directly to the summit was not at all obvious, and heavily wooded. Since the dirt road had started up again and could be seen crossing to the SW ridge, I took it gladly, crossing a steep dip en route before topping the ridge. From there, cross the ridge and descend a short distance, then go right on a dirt road that heads NE up the ridge line, under a lesser power line. This road levels off, descends slightly with the ridge line to the right, then climbs again and circles to a microwave tower.

Note this slight dip on the descent, from where the area right of the dip looks higher, verifying the feel of the ground as you hike the summit area. The microwave tower is on the north side of the summit and is not visible from the eastern approach. Above the tower to the south is higher ground. I pushed about 200 yards through extremely thick laurel and oak scrub until the terrain leveled off. At that point I climbed a tree, and saw no higher ground in the distance. USGS Capon was recovered in 1952, not found in 1998, and not found by me. It took 2 hours 45 minutes to reach the summit and do the wandering on top, and 2 hours to descend.

Approach III (?): As you crest the SW ridge of the mountain and enjoy the magnificent view into West Virginia, the power line r.o.w. is visible down to the flat lands. It looks as if the road may exist uninterrupted on the WV side, and the terrain looks less forbidding than on the VA side. If the Wilde Acres approach does not pan out, it would probably be a much more pleasant, and no longer, hike from the WV side.