Kanawha County High Point Trip Report

spot elevation on Kayford Mtn (2898 ft) and one area 700 ft west-southwest

Date: December 2, 2001
Author: Mike Schwartz

Ignore my previous reports using the "pipeline" approach up the south ridge of Kayford Mountain. That route is extremely steep and overgrown, and the approach is stymied by 30-50 foot cliffs left by strip mining. This approach is not posted, although certainly on private land, and is a good dry weather route.

From WV 3, just south of the Raleigh/Boone County line, take CR 1/Clear Fork Road east 8.1 miles to a rough dirt road on the left, just past a stone bridge. Look for an abandoned cinder block shelter as a landmark. Note that this area can be approached from the east off I-64/77, but that route involves traversing a stretch of very rough road to crest the Fayette/Raleigh County line. This dirt road is the one shown on the topo ascending Long Branch, from between a cemetery and substation, at Ameagle.

Hike generally east on the road, which ascends gradually. Quality varies from good to almost nonexistent. When in doubt about junctions, bear east. After about two miles, and well up on the mountain, join another road near some mine shafts, and not too far ahead, the road ends. From here, the ascent is in the creek bed, which runs in a deep, narrow ravine. Many large boulders and stumps are testimony to the severe flooding there during 2001. Much of the mountain also appears to have burnt this year, so a lot of the brush has been thinned out. The bushwhacking was not too bad, helped by the very dry conditions. Eventually reach the first major fork, possibly at the point on the map left of the number "2000" marking the contour, where a hollow goes north, while the main stream continues east. The hollow to the north looks more substantial, but I opted to continue east up the very narrow ravine, which was mercifully bone-dry and not too difficult to climb. Still some distance below the ridge line, this ravine reaches a good mine road. Go left on the road for 100 feet, then switchback right onto a better road that runs all the way to the ridge line at a knob about 1/4 mile east of spot elevation 2898, which was visible through the bare trees. Hike the dirt road to the left, which runs directly to spot elevation 2898, passes over it, and continues to the 2880+ foot area. Excellent views north and south, with some depressing moonscapes left by mining. There has been fresh activity and logging on the crest, but the area is not posted. I chose a Sunday to minimize chances of meeting any workers, and could hear mining underway to the north. On the 2880+ foot area, there are numerous pieces of two-inch diameter, rocky drill cores, mostly sandstone and shale.

On the descent, I met two ATVers who had come up from a different start point, scouting for bear. When they realized I had climbed to the summit solo, their comment was, "You're crazy, man!"

Time up 2 hours, down 1 hour 20 minutes. This is a most interesting hike, following the same ravine for such a long distance. One can hope the two summit knobs will remain undisturbed, but the recent land clearing on the crest is cause for concern.

Kanawha is pronounced "can-AW".