Russell County Highpoint Trip Report

Beartown Mtn - USGS BM Beartown (4689 ft)

one small area 1/4 mile northeast of BM Beartown (4,680+ ft)

Date: September 22, 2006
Author: Michael Schwartz

I did Beartown the "easy way," parking at Denison Chapel and hiking from there. From the north side, one can see a ridge that is cleared almost all the way to the summit. This is the one used by Messrs. Craft and Schuler and is the easiest and quickest way to do Beartown. Access issues remain and are better discussed privately. You want to get onto the ridge that is shown on the topo as unforested up to 4,280 feet (36.9304° N, 81.8988° W), NAD 27 datum. From the end of Denison Chapel Road, it's not too hard to work your way onto that ridge, even without GPS, by counting ridges and drainages. The ridge, which alternates steep and gentle grades, is an active cow pasture, and you will get to know them up close and personal. Use their newest paths to help negotiate the few stretches of undergrowth encountered.

I set a waypoint at (36.9295° N, 81.8972° W), which is at the base of the cliffy section and the start of the rhododendrons, and it's critical to hit this spot on the descent. The steep stuff, about 1/10 mile, ends at (36.92879° N, 81.89648° W), and I used that waypoint as the starting point for the descent. Climb gently to the broad summit plateau and reach a large clearing that's between the two highpoint areas. From there it's an easy walk along a use path to the listed coordinates for the BM (not found) and another 200 feet or so to the large cairn marking the probable true summit. Return to the large clearing and walk around the edge until you find a faint use path that follows faint blazes marking the Wildlife Management Area boundary. You really want to find the path to avoid ugly bushwhacking.

The path, hard to follow at times, will take you to the northern area atop a well-defined bump. The return to the clearing is much easier. The key to the descent is to get onto the correct ridge and not end up in a drainage. The ridge is not obvious near the top of the mountain, so I strongly suggest aiming for waypoints or marking the route somehow. Once below the cliffy section and the rhodies, and on the correct ridge, the route is close to foolproof.

The ascent took about 2:30, descent 1:30, with an hour on top. Gain from the chapel is about 2,100 feet.