Nelson County Highpoint Trip Report

The Priest and Maintop Mtn (4,040+ ft)

Date: May 7, 2005
Author: Roy Schweiker

The road (826) to Crabtree Meadows is now signed as NOT SUITABLE FOR VEHICLES, FOUR WHEEL DRIVE ONLY, not sure if this is ticketable. There are 2 fords lower down that would be a problem in high water or if a deeper channel is scoured and a couple rocky areas but most cars could get up to Crabtree Meadows (upper Crabtree Falls parking) in favorable conditions. The road is definitely rougher above and wants high clearance 4wd to reach the Appalachian Trail. However, I completely disagree about parking - although there are boulders at the trail crossing itself, there is suitable parking for at least 3 4wd nearby and, in fact, there were 2 guys with a pickup serving cheeseburgers to passing through-hikers.

The Priest has a cairn at the 4063 elevation shown on the map but I agree that there are many other candidates for the actual HP. I didn't find the BM on the other bump even after a trail-runner helpfully suggested that it was probably installed in a rock, as there were at least 500 rocks in that vicinity.

I decided to climb Maintop from there to avoid private property issues near the fish hatchery and followed the AT south for 3.0 miles from 826. Fortunately, the trail circles most of the bumps on the ridge. Met through-hiker Buckwheat and some lost day hikers from a foreign-exchange program. This route did not pass Spy Rock but, as it was raining on the summit of Maintop, I probably didn't miss any great views. I found a 2-can register in the base of the cairn on Maintop but nothing inside and I didn't add anything.

I had planned to follow the trail shown on the USGS map from the notch at Cash Hollow Road down to Crabtree Meadows but discovered that it no longer existed. Fortunately, it was an easy bushwhack with a few dead-falls at the beginning coming out at the top of a large meadow. I would suggest that others planning to combine these two peaks should park at the junction of 826 and Cash Hollow Road to avoid the roughest part of the road and this bushwhack.

Incidentally, the register at The Priest lean-to said that the Dutch Haus B&B at Montebello serves good coffee and the proprietress has a key to the gate and will drive you nearly up to the AT.