Randolph County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: May 25, 2008
I'm happy to report the parking/access situation here has improved. There is
now a parking area for the Flat Rock Run Trail about a quarter mile west of the
To get there, I traced my way back from the Dolly Sods Wilderness following FR
19 back to where it becomes Laneville Road and turned left onto Bonner Mountain Road.
About 0.4 mile after making this turn, an easy-to-miss lot is present on
the western banks of Red Creek.
Alternatively, to get there from the US-33 and WV 32 junction, head north on WV
32 for about 4.4 miles, turn right onto Bonner Mountain Road, and after about 4
miles be on the lookout for a brown sign marking the trailhead on your right.
Follow the road for about a quarter mile, where you will cross a bridge.
The parking turnoff is on the left just after crossing.
We walked the road back up to the trailhead. There is a cutout in the fence now,
so I walked through that to the well-marked trail, which is marked by blue
diamonds in its entirety. The trail rises gently for the first couple of miles,
and there are a few points where very nice views of waterfalls from Flat Rock
Run can be had. The trail climbs quite steeply after this, then levels off when
you near the spruce forest. Just before meeting the junction with the Roaring
Plains Trail, the Flat Rock Run trail turns left and an old jeep road continues
straight. This might be the old railroad grade Allen DeHart was referencing in
Fred Lobdell's trip report. I followed this for about 100 yards but felt it was
taking me further from the summit, so I retraced my steps and followed the Flat
Rock Run trail to the junction. As I later learned, this made my life tougher.
From the junction (marked with a sign), I bushwhacked through open fields for
the first third of a mile or so, then the thick spruce hit, where I followed my
GPS bushwhacking through towards the summit. At about 0.15 mile from the summit
waypoint, I took leave of my senses and decided to disregard by GPS and go for
higher ground nearby. I did this because a) my GPS told me I was at an
elevation of 4,760 feet and b) I could see no higher ground anywhere else.
This was a huge mistake, as I wasted over an hour of time and about two square feet
of perfectly good skin on my legs and arms. Frustrated, I found no benchmark,
so I decided to follow my GPS after all. After another 45 minutes, the
bushwhacking eased and I moved quickly though open terrain for the last 0.1
miles to the ribboned and easily-located benchmark, exactly where my GPS said it
should be. I was elated. The ground just north of here is very dense,
just like the stuff I bushwhacked through to the false summit.
Hat's off to Fred for doing this route without GPS. The route he and I took to
the summit, following the contour from the false summit, is the hard way.
On the return, I took a more southerly approach back to the trail junction and
found the bushwhacking to be easier, though still unpleasant.
On the way back, I met some hikers also headed for the summit. They told me
that the unmarked path that I had followed for 100 yards eventually leads to a
ribboned route to the summit, which in their words is "much easier" and involves
little to no bushwhacking (perhaps it meets with the route Mike Schwartz took).
So, I'd highly recommend trying to reach the highpoint that way. The bushwhack
route is long and probably the second most unpleasant I've done. The stats tell
the tale: 12.2 miles, 2,470 feet, 7 hours and 20 minutes, and a drastic decrease
in the happiness of my dog. About two and a half hours of our time was spent on
the 1.4 miles of bushwhacking. Those that don't think you can interpret
satellite signals better than your GPS should fare much better.
I saw a wild turkey and a black bear on the way back.
Author: Shannon Dillmore