Nelson County Highpoint Trip Report

two areas on The Priest (4,040+ ft and spot elevation 4,063 ft)

Date: October 20, 2006
Author: Michael Schwartz

Faced with limited daylight, I took a shot at getting a passenger sedan up SR-826. The sign at the bottom reads, "Road not recommended for vehicles beyond this point. 4-wheel drive only." The truth is that the road is not that bad. I have been on much worse in my car, and I am not a pretender to the Andy Martin "drive anywhere" title. On the final downgrade before reaching the parking lot and trailhead, there was a short, rocky stretch that required very careful driving but I never bottomed out. I saw other cars at the trailhead. The hike to The Priest is well-described in other reports and it's easy to step on all the candidate bumps. I thought a rock outcrop on the north side of the 4,063 foot bump was highest.

Time up 1:02; down 0:50.

I was going to use Roy Schweiker's idea of doing an out-and-back hike to Maintop from the saddle but opted to drive down the mountain and do Maintop from the fish hatchery area, to shorten the hike and maximize daylight. This turned out to be a good decision, as the hike from the large parking area was very straightforward and fast. Do the scramble up Spy Rock and enjoy the view.

Time up 1:02; down 0:42.

If one wanted to do a loop hike, I'd recommend parking at the fish hatchery lot (actually a hikers' lot about 0.3 mile beyond the hatchery), doing Maintop, hiking east on the AT, doing The Priest, and descending on SR-826. There seemed to be quite a fair amount of traffic on 826 and with luck one could bum a ride down to SR-56, saving the 3.8 mile slog down the road.