Holston High Point

October 2nd - I set out at about 1:15 p.m. to summit Holston High Point, the highest elevation in Sullivan County Tennessee at 4280 feet.  I began my ascent at the Hinkle Branch trailhead parking area in Stoney Creek (elevation 1950'). 


First let me say that if anyone wishes to use the following route to climb Holston be aware that the trails in this area are somewhat confusing, and did not match up to my topo maps.  For instance, my map calls Trail #2023 (in the lower section of the mountain) "Rye Patch", but the actual signage along the trail calls it "Bear Wallow".  This happened again at a later point when the trail on the topo map was supposed to be called "Furnace Branch", but it was called "Griffith Branch" on the signage.  This can be confusing at some points.


Anyway, from the parking area I soon found Trail #2023 (Bear Wallow on the sign), and I followed this for approximately three miles as it traversed up the ridgeline to the left of Hinkle Branch.  I then ran into an "intersection" and left Bear Wallow Trail for Trail #2026 (Griffith Branch on the sign).  This was a level roadbed for about a half mile, but it eventually veered off the road onto a dirt trail, and made a sharp rise toward the summit.  This ascent was a tough section of the trail as it rose about 800 feet in a mile, making it average over a 15% grade for a solid mile of climbing (see hike profile image below). 


After approximately 4.5 miles into my hike I came upon an opening in the forest and saw the first of many radio and TV towers scattered near the summit.  At this point I knew I was getting close.  From there I went off trail and took the service road to the east for another .5 until I found the true summit, which is where an FAA aircraft navigational beacon is located.  Holston High Point is supposed to have two summits in close proximity at 4280 feet, but the peak at the FAA site is obviously the highest (also shown by my GPS in the profile below).


I explored the summit for a few minutes and had wonderful views especially toward Virginia and the Clinch Mountains, and also looking south toward Iron Mountain and Roan Mountain.  I took a few photos and soon began my descent. 


I kept following the service road until I reached the Low Gap Campground at about 4000 feet.  I stopped there to rest at a picnic table, and then took the Low Gap Trail #2024 all the way back down to my car (note: the Low Gap Trail turns back into Hinkle Branch trail about half way down the mountain even though the map only refers to it as Low Gap).  I did experience my first fall of 2007 as I stumbled on a root as I was moving fast on the way down, but I had no injuries other than a couple of scrapes.   


Overall, this was a very tough climb as I ascended over 2300 in elevation gain in the 5 miles to the summit.  My complete hike was a total of 9.6 miles.                                             


(Click all images for larger photos)


A Split in the Trail with No Blazes

Many Towers Are Scattered Near the Summit

Nice Southern Views Through Occasional Powerline Breaks


More Towers and Buildings On the Summit Ridgeline

FAA Aircraft Navigational Beacon On the Summit

Views From the Summit

Bill Summits Holston High Point - Elevation 4280' Looking Toward Bristol and the Clinch Mountains From the Summit Low Gap Campground Where I Rested Before Making My Descent

Profile of My Summit on Holston - The 1.0 Mile Section Marked Above is Trail #2026 Which Was the Difficult Final Ascent