Russell County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: January 28, 2006
Author: Patrick Craft
My 9-year-old son has always talked about climbing Beartown Mountain but
previous TRs scared me away from taking him on such a severe hike (7+ hours).
I found a route via Mutters Gap taken by Don Desrosier, in July, that took him 6 hours.
I have noted on my drives in the area the northern and western sides
have grassy ridges that ascend fairly high on the mountain and wondered about
finding a route up these ridges. Armed with my USGS topo, I approached a
landowner last month who lived on VA 603 near Taylor cemetery. We spoke about
access, she refused, but did give me the names of some other landowners. Today
I drove over hoping to score on access via the long open grassy ridges above
I parked at the chapel and we hiked up Dennison Chapel Road, where we met Eugene
Harrison. He owns land in the area and used to work in the Register of Deeds
office so he knows everybody. We spent about 20 minutes talking. I came to
learn the woman who refused access last month is in a ongoing dispute with
Mr. Harrison and others about right of way access to property. We also talked about
Mr. Stillwell (see Don Desrosiers’ report) and other local issues/people.
We followed the creek and climbed up the grassy ridges, crossing a fence line
along the way, to about 4500 feet. Some of the open areas were grass, some had
small briars crossed around by cattle trails. At 4500 feet we entered the woods
and climbed steeply to the lower cliffs, where the rhododendron appeared.
The rhodos continued to the summit plateau but not too thickly. We found the cairn
at the 4,689 ft peak and also found the northern peak. A semi path can be followed
on the ridge. This is the Wildlife Management Area boundary with both orange
and double yellow blazes.
I hate to break everybody’s bubble but this turned out to be a pretty easy hike.
Car to car, not including our conversations on way up and back with Mr. Harrison
was 4 hours. This included many breaks with my son and generous time on the
summit plateau. I guess open fields don't compare to impenetrable thickets.
Hike statistics: About 5.5 miles round-trip, 2,089 feet of elevation gain, 4 hours.