Webster County High Point Trip Report

one area 3/4 mile northeast of Dogway (4,000+ ft)

Dates: August 18 & 19, 2001
Author: Mike Schwartz

We got a late start on this one, eliminating any chance of doing the other two areas on the same day. A strong party could do both hikes in a single, long day, but each area has some tricky bushwhacking, and our recommendation is to allow two days for Webster County. Get a copy of the Forest Service (FS) version of the Lobelia quadrangle, which is overprinted with forest service route numbers and gate locations. Bring along the topozone version, which is not overprinted, but is newer and has more accurate trail locations near the high point area.

From WV 39/55, 4.7 miles east of the Greenbrier/Pocahontas County line, turn onto FR 232/Dogway Road. This turnoff is 0.3 miles west of the large trailhead parking area for FR 244, the Kenison Mountain Trail. Drive about one mile to a parking area for several trails. Hike the road signed for the Cranberry Backcountry for about 35 minutes and bear right onto FR 738, shown on the FS topo. Shortly thereafter, cross Dogway Fork on a good concrete bridge. At about 1:00, reach the saddle shown on the map at elevation 4080+. Pass over the crest, ignore a wide grassy road on the left, and look for the blue plastic diamond blazes of the Kenison Mountain Trail intersecting the road. Turn left and hike the good trail generally northwest as shown on both Topozone and FS topo, passing over knob 4123 and reaching a crest alongside knob 4106. On Topozone, ignore the trail to the north labeled as the Kenison Mountain Trail. You are on the correct trail. The trail you are on is shown as petering out, but actually continues straight down the NW ridge of knob 4106. If using the FS topo, the hairpin turn shown WNW of knob 4106 no longer exists. We wasted time searching for it. As you start down the NW ridge of knob 4106, look for a badly overgrown (with waist high spruce), but clearly visible logging road heading more or less west. This leads onto the ridge line spur toward the 4000 contour extending across to Webster County. The ridge will narrow as shown on the maps, and eventually climbs slightly toward the spur as it crosses the county line. The only marking we found was a lone piece of surveyors ribbon on the ridge line, near the county line. The road varies from clear to very overgrown, but can be followed all the way to the point at which the ground starts to drop off sharply to the west, and this point is clearly past the county line. The high point in Webster County is somewhere on the ridge line between the county line and the drop off. With the wandering at the end, and the deciphering of conflicting maps, the round trip hike took a good five hours.

spot elevation (4,031 ft) and one area 4,800 feet southeast (4,000+ ft)

Another day's adventure in Webster County. First, how we did the hike, and then how we recommend others do it.

Park at the gated entrance to FR 941, off WV 39/55, 5.6 miles east of the Nicholas/Greenbrier County line, 4.1 miles west of the Pocahontas/Greenbrier County line. On both Topozone and Monongahela N.F. maps, FR 941 is shown as a jeep trail all the way to the ridge line, but it actually peters out on the upper slopes.

Our route: From the gate, hike the jeep road, pass old strip mine, cross creek at site of former bridge, then enter a large open grassy area that bears right and starts to descend. At the swath crest, look for a non- obvious opening at woods edge, leading to two separate paths. We chose the right, higher path, which climbed steadily, but eventually petered out on the side of the hill. After some wandering, we found its probable continuation on a now improved woods road, contouring the hill. After about 1/8 to 1/4 mile, we turned right (uphill) onto a good foot trail. This unfortunately also petered out in about 1/8 mile, and from here we bushwhacked uphill, bearing generally left, working toward the ridge crest. We passed a living- room sized rock with a large alcove on the low side, adorned with piles of trash from many visitors. We dubbed it "garbage rock." We then followed the ridge line more directly past several more large boulders, after which the grade lessened, and eventually intersected FR 77, the track road shown on the topo, at its crest just SSW of the small 4000+ knob. Expecting another featureless, small-contour knob, we were pleased to find huge boulders on top and the summit boulder which could not be climbed directly. Rather than risk injury doing "boost me up," we gathered a half dozen flat rocks and built a three foot high stepping stone cairn, from which we could just barely scramble up onto the boulder. The top was loaded with moss and a couple of small saplings, and may not have been visited for a long, long time.

We bushwhacked back down to FR 77 (note that the Pocahontas Trail shown on Topozone as passing to the north of the knob has been rerouted, and now runs on FR 77 to the south of the knob) and followed the blue blazes NW. Soon the Pocahontas Trail and the blue blazes take off to the left. Carefully follow the lay of the land on the topo, and when you reach the highest point on the shoulder of spot elevation 4031, bushwhack directly to the summit. Wander around and visit several bumps as high point candidates.

We next backtracked to the ridge line just below the first knob, where we had originally intersected FR 77. We followed the indistinct ridge line SW, using a compass, but the surroundings quickly became unfamiliar looking, and then I found that my compass was giving erratic readings. The day was overcast, and we were thinking about bushwhacking back to the crest, if we could figure out where it was, then walking known trails west for several miles, which would have brought us out to WV 39/55, miles west of our cars. Blessedly, the sun popped out, giving us a good bearing, and we headed north. Lo and behold, in about two minutes, there was good old garbage rock, from which we were able to retrace our bushwhack the remaining 1/4 mile to the overgrown trails.

Having gotten away luckily, I bought two different compasses the next day, and now carry three. Overkill maybe, but safety in numbers. With our wandering and step building, the hike took 4:40 round trip. If we had to do it over, we would start from the trailhead for Nicholas County, a few miles west of FR 941, take the Pocahontas Trail east, and follow the lay of the land to find the two high point knobs. It might be a bit longer, but is almost all on trail, the gain would be minimal, and the bushwhack via indistinct terrain would be eliminated. See my Nicholas County report for directions to the trailhead.