Pocahontas County High Point Trip Report

Date: October 10, 1998 and September 16, 2000
Author: Ronald Tagliapietra

Two are relatively close to one another in the Snowshoe Ski Resort. They permit visitors. The north spot is a bushwhack, and the other is near a maintenance road beyond the last public paved road. I did both of them on October 10, 1998 but could not get the third spot, Bald Knob, owned by Cass Scenic RR state park, until September, 16 2000. The SP claims that this is the highest point in the county and the second highest peak in the state. In spite of being in a state park, it has access complications. The surrounding area is private and posted land. The park owns the summit and has a right of way along the train tracks but it is not legal to walk on the tracks. The park says that the only legal access is to take the train. However, a brakeman said that he sees bicycles up there often and that the train has even given bikers a one-way ride with their bikes. He said they bicycle to/from Snowshoe, so those interested in that means might inquire at Snowshoe when they bag the other 2 points.

Summit: The summit has a firetower and a cabin. The highest ground seemed to me to be between them. The park brochure gives the elevation at 4842 ft. The tower has brand new wood steps installed on its steep lowest flight and can be fully climbed (no hatch blocking top room) to a commanding view. A park sign disclaims responsibility for accidents here. The RR, however, ends at a subpeak with an observation deck at the edge of the broad summit, giving it a nice view down into the valleys. From this deck, you can also see the fire tower if you look close. The book "Essential Cass" (on sale at gift shop) by Philip V. Bagdon (Hinton, WV: Dog and Pony Publications, 1997; see last page) says that it is 0.6 mi. to the summit and about 140 ft gain. The topo vindicates the distance, but shows 200 ft gain with another 20 on the return.

To take the historic Shea locomotive from logging days, plan most of a day. Rides are available most days from mid spring to mid fall, but only one train runs on a given day. The trip lasts from noon to 5, and the park said I didn't need reservations but to arrive by 10:30 am to be assured of a ticket (there are a free historic slide show, a free museum, and a gift shop while waiting to board). The cost was $18, more during fall color season. The end of the line is the second of two half-hour stops. The conductor was very helpful and said that over the years a few others have gone up to the fire tower. He told me to head up promptly and not to tarry. I jogged about half the distance each way to gain time for inspecting the summit area and climbing the tower. I returned with time to take photos from the deck, and the conductor was surprised to see me back so soon - which should help future visitors. Check the Cass Scenic Railroad web site for more general information.