Shenandoah County High Point Trip Report

Mill Mountain - USGS BM (3,293 ft)

Date: June 4, 2001
Author: Michael Schwartz

From the junction of WV 55/259 northwest of Wardensville, WV, continue east on 55, and take the first right turn south onto Waites Run Road/CR 5-1. Turn left at 0.7 miles, then turn right at 0.8 miles onto the unsigned road. The pavement eventually ends, and the road enters the National Forest. Look for the partially obscured Pond Run trailhead sign on the right at 6.0 miles, just before the bridge over Pond Run and a large Wilson Cove Deer Study Area sign.

The blue-blazed trail climbs steeply at first, but quickly gives back all the gain as it descends to Pond Run. As the trail follows Pond Run southwest, it crosses the stream eight times. Only one of the crossings is trivial, and at times of high water it might be necessary to bypass some of the crossings, requiring nasty bushwhacks along the ravine. Most of the crossings are not obvious, and marking the crossing points will save time on the way out. The trail finally climbs out of the valley and intersects the Halfmoon Trail on the ridge line at a T-junction. This point is 2.4 miles from the trailhead. Go left (south) on the Halfmoon Trail, still blue-blazed, and pass through a wet stretch of trail. A short distance ahead, an unblazed trail marked "closed for reseeding" goes uphill to the right. We opted to stay on the blazed trail, but about 1/2 mile further, decided we didn't like the grade and direction of the trail, and backtracked to the unmarked trail. Follow this steadily uphill to a low gap that is probably the one shown on the map at spot elevation 3125. Look for another T-intersection with a wide trail, also marked as closed, going uphill to the right. There are several confusing jogs and turns in this area, and we marked them on the ground to simplify the return. A blue-blazed trail also traverses this gap, and may well be the one we originally took and abandoned below. Perhaps a future visitor will stay on the blue trail to see if it reaches the gap. The trail now goes SW along the summit ridge, reaching the top in a fast half mile. A final grassy track goes right at the summit toward a utility pole. At the summit area, all that remains are concrete tower footings and a shack. We found no BM, but one of the footings was engraved, FEB 1940.

Highest ground is at a multiple-trunk tree just east of this area, which we reached by a short bushwhack through very thick brush. The tree is much more easily reached by backtracking to the main trail, from which the tree is visible and accessible by wading through knee-high laurel. According to Allan deHart's Virginia hiking guidebook, it is 3.8 miles from trailhead to summit.

There are alternate approaches, but this seemed the shortest. Views are almost nonexistent. Allow 4 1/2 hours round trip. The "closed" trails showed no sign of reseeding, but did show lots of foot and hoof prints. Bypassing them would require very nasty bushwhacks.