Rockingham County Highpoint Trip Report

Flagpole Knob (4,360+ ft)

Date: August 20, 2003
Author: Gene Daniell

Assuming that, like most folks, you'll be coming to the area on the Interstate, you leave I-81 at Exit 240 and follow VA 257 through numerous twists and turns for 18 miles to the hamlet of Briery Branch. Here, about 0.7 mile past the sign for the George Washington National Forest boundary, the road becomes (or, according to some maps, also becomes) FR 924 and continues 6.7 miles more to Briery Branch Gap. Here take FR 85 right, following the VA/WV state line for the first mile or so. Just about any car can handle the 3.5-mile drive to within 100 yards or so of the summit - I was driving my Ford Focus, which is certainly a long way from an SUV. I got out and walked the last 0.8 mile, not because I couldn't have driven it but because I got sick of driving on the road, which is clear and firm but tedious due to endless small rocks - and because I like to walk anyway. The first right branch leading toward the summit is nasty, with bulldozed dirt hillocks and muddy depressions, so it is better to go on to the second right, a jeep track that leads all the way to the summit. The high point is probably under a fire ring in an open field that provides good views to the south - no BM visible. I did not find the piped spring mentioned by Ron Tagliapietra.

Nearby Reddish Knob is definitely worth a visit since you are already almost there. At Briery Branch Gap, a paved road (also FR 85) leads southwest and south for 2.0 miles to a fork. Here the left fork, paved, makes a complete circle to end on the summit of Reddish Knob in another 0.3 mile - beautiful 360 degree views but not a beautiful spot, due to extensive pavement with ugly graffiti.

If you follow the right fork (gravel road, still FR 85) at the base of the peak for 0.2 mile to where the road turns decisively left at a minor ridge crest, park, and follow a not-too-heavily-beaten path through a ridge crest campsite and onward for about 0.1 mile, you will reach an opening with good views west - less extensive than the summit, but a pleasant, secluded spot. This is labeled Heiliger Kanzel Overlook on the USGS map but there is no sign on the spot.