Russell County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: July 1, 2005
Author: Don Desrosiers

If you can't get a first ascent, at least come up with a new route. I took a lot of the fine work that Patrick Craft had done and came in from Mutters Gap. The advantage of this route, while slightly longer, is that it gets you up to elevation quicker. I will take the liberty of naming this route, "Patrick's Path".

You will need either a GPS or surveyors tape for this one. Not so much to get there but to get back. If you get caught in the Red Creek drainage coming back, I suspect you might be there for a while. I brought two liters of water and wish I had brought three.

From the intersection of US 19 and VA 80 north, go 1.4 mles and turn right onto CR 644 (Settle Lane). At 2.5 miles turn left onto CR 603 (Mountain Road). At 3.8 miles is mailbox 246, the mailbox for Estil Stillwell, owner of the access. He lives in a log house at the end of the looong driveway.

After getting Mr. Stillwell's permission, get back onto 603 and continue another 3/10 mile to JUST PAST THE SMALL CREEK where you need to park because there is no parking along the gravel road. This is the road to Mutters Gap.

Proceed up the gravel road, through the posted gate (if you don't have permission, someone WILL ask you), and continue up the obvious jeep road. At about 7/10 mile (approximately 3550 feet there is a blue pipe gate, pretty much on the edge of the map). Go through the gate and continue uphill on the trail, staying to the right of the fence for another 3/4 mile to Mutters Gap, grassy with open woods. (The trail down Red Creek is there but has degenerated into essentially a game path. I took it for about 100 yards then got bored.)

Bushwhack up the hill via old game, hunter, and erosion trails. At approximately 4150 feet, you will hit the headwall of rhododendrons. I had originally thought to work my way to the west but that proved to be very rocky. Instead, I went back to the east side and worked my way up. Once you get to the vicinity of the NY1 BM, there are a series of small trails that seem to come and go at random. Just enough to make some time but not enough to do it consistently. For some reason, the paths seemed to be easier to find on the way back. Eventually you can find the boundary markers for the wildlife area on the trees. They will take you more or less right where you want to go.

When I got there I gave a faint cheer for myself, having felt I had really done something. Think of Tazewell County without the sense of ease of accomplishment.

Hike statistics: About 8 miles; about 1,900 feet of climbing, and just under 6 hours
round trip (with a good chunk spent between Mutters Gap and NY1).