McDowell County High Point Trip Report

two areas at eastern corner of county on Flat Top Mtn (3,400+ ft)

Date: May 23, 2001
Author: Mike Schwartz

I approached this high point from the east, via Matoaka and McComas over a melange of bad, poorly marked roads. The easier approach, by far, is from the west. From US 52, at the welcome signs for Northfork, go east on CR 17 5.3 miles to a sign pointing straight ahead to Crumpler and right to Montcalm. Bear right, staying on CR 17, and pass through Ashland. Reach the crest (Windmill Gap) at 8.5 miles, where there is a general store. Take the paved side road north from the gap, bear right at 9.0 miles, and go left onto a gravel road 10.2 miles. At 10.7 miles the road passes a permanently open gate, "road closed" signs, and leads into the open area shown on the topo. A bit further on are some remnants of the orchard shown on the map. At the beginning of the open area is a hump to the left, more distinct, and I think higher than the area to the north shown on the map. As I was taking a picture, the owner of the yellow home ahead to the right, Curtis Hodges, came out to check on me. We chatted for almost an hour. He verified that the county line is at the gate, knew he lived on high ground, and was pleased to find out he lives on the highest ground in the county. I gave him my topozone maps, and he said future highpointers would be welcome.

Mr Hodges said the state wants to build a new US 52 practically in his backyard. This is to run from the Princeton-Bluefield area at least as far west as Welch, mostly on ridge tops. The future of this highpoint may be in jeopardy. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail runs nearby, and he is tormented by several hundred ATV's every weekend.