Tazewell County High Point Trip Report
Garden Mtn (two summits)
Date: February 5, 2000
Author: Ron Tagliapietra
See directions to the shelter on Chestnut Knob (see Bland County report).
Walk a few yards from the shelter to the privy and look for an unmaintained path
descending along a fence line. This barb-wire fence is in poor repair, marks the NF boundary,
and descends to a road.
Mark where you reached the road for your return and then walk left down the road
(including switchback) to a house (NF owned I think) and continue past the house
to a lower point at Heninger Gap, a half mile and 600 feet below Chestnut
(and low point on TVD separating Chestnut from Garden). In this vicinity pass an
entrance with a wire overhead (which descends right along Blue Spring Cr.).
Continue up the gravel road, which does not initially follow the ridge line (passing
left of the 4080 bump, reaching the ridgeline, and then passing right of the 4280 summit.
After bypassing this summit, you will notice a switchback ascending,
but you need not ascend to that summit (which has a BM surrounded by bearing trees).
Continue due north into the swag (a level grassy ridge that connects the bypassed summit
with Garden). The topo shows a BM 4167 half-way along this half-mile swag but we did
not find it. At the far end of the swag, head up and west (a deep ravine will
eventually provide a guide on your right) for a steep half-mile to the ridgeline and then
north a tenth-mile or so to the summit.
Both the stretch from the swag to the ravine and the spot where you arrive at the ridgeline
are crucial on your return. The swag is not easy to hit (as we discovered in the dusk)
and if you miss it you will add much to your gain to say nothing of your distance trying
to get back on track.
At any rate, you will reach the ridge not far below the summit of Garden.
When you top out in the grassy area, the line of trees on your right contain a large boulder
with the BM Maiden 1934.
I think BM Maiden is the true HP (it has BM, it is a large area, and it looks higher through
brush-hindered leveling). Nevertheless, we did make a good faith effort to attain the
second small contour area.
Continue northwest on the path from the BM Maiden for a tenth mile or two to a place with a
double-red flag. The more traveled trail here goes west through rhododendron with mucky
spots in the trail. In general it was a good trail and my theory is that it connects over
the high western subpeaks to the trail that is on the topo but dies on the
This may make a nice alternative access. When we realized this one was going due west we
backtracked to the double flag and took the lesser path north. This path is a clear path
but is very brushy (wear long pants) through rhododendrons etc. It also has some mucky spots
but fewer and is rockier overall.
After 0.25 mi. it summits a rock outcrop with fabulous views. We then continued to a green
bump beyond (another 0.2) and then beyond that to a high hill visible from the green bump.
When the trail began a steady descend, we returned to the apparent HP and I poked around
some off trail looking for the highest ground. We returned to the rocks by sunset and had
fading light down to the vicinity of the swag,
returning the rest of the way by flashlight.
In summary, this peak involved 1.5 miles on the AT to Chestnut, 0.5 mi. descent on rough
path along fence, 1 mi. on logging road, 0.5 mi. of swag, 0.5 steeply ascending through
open woods, 0.1 along ridgeline in open woods, and then 0.7 on brushy unmaintained trail.
This is not bad in winter, but I would not recommend it in summer.
Long pants are needed in any season due to brush as well as topo and route finding skills
(maybe even GPS!).