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April 18th - 20th 2009
The United States Congress designated the Beartown Wilderness in 1984 and it now has a total of 5,609 acres.
Some of Virginia's most remote territory is nestled in Beartown Wilderness. No improved roads lead here, and the old dirt roads are being reclaimed by native vegetation. It ranges in elevation from 2,400 to almost 5,000 feet.This country is steep and rugged, particularly at the heads of the drainages. The principal waterways are Roaring Fork Creek, Bark Camp Creek, and Cove Branch, which runs off Beartown Ridge. The creeks feed several beaver ponds. For native trout, fish Roaring Fork. The vegetation is diverse, featuring Appalachian hardwoods, northern spruce-fir, northern hardwoods, hemlock, a sphagnum bog, and a few rare plants. You may see bears, you may see deer, and you're certain to see many smaller mammals and a great variety of birds.
The Appalachian Trail (AT) traces the southern boundary for about four miles, providing access for backpackers. There are about two miles of system trail within the wilderness. The Appalachian Trail is adjacent to the southern boundary for about four miles.
The region is characterized by long, straight and winding sandstone ridges that close back on themselves to form features such as Burke's Garden, a 3100 foot (945 m) high agricultural valley composed largely of Ordovician limestones.
Regional precipitation falls in the range of 40 inches. The rather broad summit area of the Beartown Wilderness on Beartown Mountain, which has the highest elevations, is occupied by Red Spruce (Picea rubens) forest and northern hardwoods, and the latter also dominate some deep valleys such as that of Roaring Fork, which are subject to cold air drainage from the adjacent highlands. Great Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) is at all elevations in these forests, indicating a general abundance of moisture. However, high, narrow-topped ridges surrounding the Wilderness area, such as Chestnut Ridge, have milder, dryer climates, although they range above 4000 feet. It is likely that cold air originating on these ridges, as a consequence of radiation cooling, is readily shed to the valleys below, as there is nothing to trap it at the higher elevations.
New River Valley Ranger District
110 Southpark Drive
BLACKSBURG, VA 24060
Meet on friday night at rd 631, Roaring Fork trail head.
Park at Trail Head #42 rd 631 Gate. Take trail # 42 Roaring Fork Trail 2.3 miles, then start our accent at 3,100 ft. just staying to the right side of Roaring Fork. We will need to cross Roaring fork several time picking the best route to climb to 4,600 approx 1 1/2 mile. Then backpacking along the ridge to Hutchinson Rock for approx 4 1/2 mi, at 4,406 ft. Return (Back track) back to parking lot, estimated distance at 12 miles. Exact camp spots will be determined by our progress throughout our hike in the wilderness. If Possible we will try to get to Hutchinson Rock.
This trip envolves some stream crossings and map and compass, GPS navagation. There are virtually no maintained trails in this wilderness area. If you want a true wilderness experience right here in Virginia, then this trip is for you.
last edited: 12/17/08 5:03:54 PM”
“I don't like virginia.”
“This is an area I want to explore further. I bushwhacked up to BM Maiden from Thompson Valley one time. The summit plateau is nothing but blueberries and mt laurel. Look for the misshapen tree SE of the BM Maiden at the ridgeline before heading steeply down toward BM MLB 1582. I doubt GPS will work in the Wilderness, the woods are thick and steep. Will try to make it but that's Easter weekend.
BTW the mountain is not Beartown Mountain. The wilderness lies between Clinch mt, Garden mt, and Chestnut ridge. (Beartown Mt is a spur off Clinch Mt near Saltville.)”
“I used a Garmin 60csx and had no problem just a few months ago edoc. I bushwacked up along Bear Ridge to the flats all the way to Hutchinson Rock overlooking the valley looking N west. Lots of Bear sign.
I live 40 miles from this area.”
“I tried it there, poor reception but also July.You spend the night up by the spring? Did you see the trail, below the spring, that heads south? I have always assumed it came out on the jeep trail up from Thompson Valley, seen on the topo.
I may go up New Years weekend. If the weather sucks I'll hike up Apple Orchard Mt instead of driving down those dirt roads.”
“Edooc / There is a trail headed south west that goes to a cemetary into Thompson Valley.
Which spring are you talking about, Roaring creek head waters? I seen no H2O on top Bear Ridge.
What type of GPS did you use? My 60csx has never lost a signal in a tree canopy environment. I have been doing nothing but bushwacking trips for the past year.”
“I guess your talking about the jeep trail that climbs up Clinch Mt from Thompson Valley. My quad shows the road dead ending before reaching BM Maiden, but there is an intersection of trails up there.
As I remember there was a spring near summit; on trail heading to Hutchinson Rock, near the intersection. Seems if I remember it wasn't too big but there was snow everywhere. When I went up I bushwhacked straight up the mountain from Thompson Valley. Going through the blueberries and Mt laurel on the summit plateau really sucked. It took me an hour to go 1/3 mile. Camping on the summit in that small clearing would be nice if water were nearby. BTW that is the highest point in Tazewell county.
Fridge, where have you parked? Coming up Roaring Fork, I parked at one of the hunting cabins owned by guys from Grundgy, I mean Grundy.
I have a Garmin, forgot model #.
I really want to go back, as well as go into Kimberling Creek. Your trip looks to be a good one, crossing the whole wilderness. Its a great place. Too many trips, not enough time.
last edited: 12/19/08 7:28:15 AM”
“edoc / I parked at FR631 Roaring Fork trail head. This is a hard to find FR. I was planning to meet near the intersection of this FR road and Bear town road and take everyone in. Waiting for this trip to get closer to actually set up a place to meet. If anyone can find FR631....take it all the way up the mountain until you dead in. Roaring Fork is within 1/2 mile from this point. I will most likely meet everyone on RT 16 where you turn off onto rt222. I will post exact location and detailed instructions on how to get to RT 16 to RT222.”
“hey refridgerator, can someone without route finding skills or a GPS come on this trip?”
“yotaman, can you hike fast?”
“LOL, of course I can. You won't lose me.”
“SIGN UP YOTAMAN”
Just hike up to top or down to valley. There is a road at the base of the wilderness. Just make sure you go down the right drainage or you'll end up in Burkes Garden or Thompson Valley.”
““hey refridgerator, can someone without route finding skills or a GPS come on this trip?”
If you can keep up with the Fridge than you don't need to know how to route find or have a GPS...I on the other hand, can't keep up with Uncle Fridgy, sooooooooooo I can't bushwack without my ex-army boyfriend....I figure between the two of us, someone will know where we are....maybe, plus he owns a GPS. LOL. :)”
“Spring is in the air so sign up and check out the Bears.”
“just completed a new Bear fence I'll be using on this trip.10,000 volts... Hammocking or bring a tent. Lots of Bears,,,,If you don't see one, you will no doubt hear them all around camp. I will be packin a 10MM Glock”
“That's a lot of boltz”
“Looks like I am gonna have to bail. I am gonna have to work every weekend until May. yall have fun. I will hopefully see yall on Trail days.”
“Im hoping to make this adventure.”
“hey moonshine/ I may bring my bear fence. I want to actually set up camp on top of Bear Ridge. No trails and last time i was there seen bear sign all over this area. Fox Grapes, tree stumps, logs thrashed everywhere.
I finished up with my second bear fence system with 10,000 voltz, runs on 4 d cell batteries or solar. 400 square feet area with a 50 foot motion sensor that monitiors the perimeter outside the containment area although this sensor system should only be used above tree line so I won't be bring this along on this trip but will be used in Alaska.
Have the weight down to 7.2 lbs for 3 man team. batteries will last 72 hrs pending how many times a bear will hit or test and has a loud siren that will sound when the batteries depleate within 25% letting you know to change the batteries or recharge. Siren will also help scare away the bear.
Built this system myself using Poly Wire and a controller built by Yellow Jacket.”
“that's cool as hell can't wait to see it. if you can shoot me a map or I'm sure I can find ya with those directions.my email email@example.com I can be there fri evening”
“Bring a Bear bag or Canister on this trip.
There will be Bears.”
“1 of the best trips I've been on in a while.very very remote and good views.thanx Fridge”
“Yep it's a good thing Spam didn't come along for this trip. The climb up is a Butt Kicker. Nice views from MOONSHINE ROCKS and HUTCHINSON ROCKS, you just have to earn the right to get to this pace by bushwacking as there are no actual trails within this wilderness system.
only a hand full get to this place and no TTer's have ever been.”
“Well, we made it back with no Bear problems. Lots of bear sign as well as Turkey, and Grouse. Met up with Moonshine at the trail head and camped there Friday night. Saturday morning we packed up and headed into the wilderness. At 1.7 miles in the only trail in the area ends as you need to cross the Roaring Fork to continue up to bear town Ridge. Roaring fork was ROARING as it was much higher than expected but we crossed and yes I did slip on a rock and landed me knee deep laying sideways in the creek. Damn I was thinking and soon realized hell this is what it's all about. We didn't waste any time after crossing and filled up any reserver water as needed. Made our way through some rodo and found an animal trail heading straight up the ridge then petering out to one of the branch tributaries of the Roaring Fork. Bushwhack was on now at approx. . 5 miles after we crossed the Roaring Fork. Up and up picking our way keeping our eye on the summit soon entered a bolder field with rock caves everywhere. Soon we made it to Bear Ridge and found another animal tail leading straight up the ridge to the actual summit. Moonshine who is much younger bolts on up to the summit as this is one of the highest points within the entire wilderness system at 4,600 ft. The summit top is wooded with some views while no leaves on trees. We set up camp at a patch of Spruce trees at 11:30am and rested up for a couple hrs. Approx. 2pm we set up day packs and bushwhacked along the summit ridge making our way to Moonshine Rocks and Hutchinson Rocks. Seems that the wilderness area was recently surveyed as we come across numerous tree flagging with the usual survey maker embedded in the ground. There was a small path way already cut through the RODO thickets so we used this swatch to access MOONSHINE ROCKS at aprox 1 mile from our camp. Nice views looking into Berks Garden and back at the original summit where we have a base camp. 360 degree views and the weather, sky was perfect.
We continued on another mile with some scrambling down and through rocks, wedges, and rock cliffs. On our way we came across a patch of RAMPS and sucked on a few with Moonshine bagging up several for supper tonight. We continued on and soon come to Hutchinson Rocks. Climbed picked and climbed some more as we worked our way to the top with awesome views as we realized not many people come here. Took bundles of PICS with a 360 degree view and headed back, Moonshine came across a snake only to use his stick to relocate off trail, Brown with Gold markings. We rolled on back to base camp, chowing down and rehydrating, built a fire and the usual camp talk around a warm fire. Lots of animal noises with at least 10 different fowl calls and some Ravens, Bear marking everywhere as well as Turkey drumming every hour.
Packed up early Sunday and rolled off the summit crossing Roaring Fork with no slips this time and continued on the our vehicles.
This area is a small beauty and I have not ever seen anyone within this wilderness area. I'm sure hunters access it during hunting season. Hard place to find and you will earn the right to actually stand on Moonshine Rocks and Hutchinson Rocks.
I'll be back next year prolly same time.”
“Sounds like a great time up in Beartown. Hopefully I'll be able to head down next year.”
“the place was so cool and the drive in is sweet.truly a wild place once u get back in.its not for the weak if you take the rout we did.”
“it's a good thing Spam didn't come on this one, he would have blown alot of wind up Bear Ridge.”
“Yeah I couldn't have made it I'm SURE!!!Believe me Iffin I could have been there I would have!!!A$$hole!Give me a call about the Gearfest...maybe I can make it!!!”
“Sounds amazing fridge. who's got pics?”
Can you e-mail me ur e-mail address? I'm thinking of taking some boy scouts there and would like to ask you some questions and compare them to my observations. It doesn't sound like you made it to BM Maiden. I've accessed the area from the ATV trail at mouth of Roaring Fork and bushwhacked up Clinch Mt from Thompson Valley but not from your route.”
“edoc...we were at Maiden rock and I took a pic of the survey marker there. Don't mean to sound ugly here but be aware that a FEDERAL FS officer is now working this area due to the fact of what Moonshine and I came across and that no vehicles are allowed on that road your talking about.They have my pictures and have dowloaded my GPS info for them. There is a small field at Maiden Rocks area. We bushwacked straight to Maiden then turned North straight to Hutchinson. Shoot me an e mail and I will send you my phone and lets talk. Refrigeratorfridge@gmail.com
last edited: 4/23/09 3:05:33 AM”
“Sounds like a still, THC, or Meth. I'll go with choice #3. I'll call 2morrow.”
“Nope , call and I'll give you the details.”
“Fridge, Took a dayhike with 2 friends up Redoak Ridge, across the creek west of where you camped,then over the knob where you camped and out to BM Maiden. I think we found the old jeep road out of Thompson Valley, survey tape scattered about and a gypsy moth trap. Open forest the whole way except for massively thick Rhodos along the creek up high. We started up about 11 am and to car by 8 pm. Have you heard about the P-51 wreckage up there?. I called from the car on the way back to Wytheville. Ill try to call this week. What a totally cool place.”
“This is my 3rd time in the wilderness. The summit plateau is beautiful. Best thing is its so hard to get to. I would hate to get hurt up there along that upper creek, so remote. We saw no sign of people except over near BM Maiden.”
“P-51 Wreckage is located just east of Maiden Rock. I have seen the wreckage only once although Next Spring i will plan another trip in and relocate with Waypoints.
Did you find the Rodo cut all the way to Hutchinson Rock?”
“The trail down to Hutchinson Rock, I suspect, goes all the way to Low Gap. I've been down a mile or so from BM Maiden. We found the bog on Cove Prong but I suspect the area above this is wicked thick. Below the bog there were terribly thick Rhodos on both sides of Cove Prong but maybe only 50 yards wide.
I think I'm going to head up next month to recon the area around the bog. Its beautiful up there.”
“There is a trail from Maiden to Hutchinson.”
“Just got back from another trip up there. One whicked place. Sent you an e-mail.”
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