Kelly’s Knob in the Snow
Greetings everyone! I hope you had a happy and healthy holiday season. The weekend before Christmas, Ryan Somma and I headed to my old stomping grounds in Blacksburg, Virginia for a five day visit. There I got one of the best early Christmas presents a girl could hope for– a reunion with the mountains! : )
On Sunday, December 19th, we got to hit the Appalachian Trail with the dogs and our friends Tony and Meredith. We went from the Rocky Gap/VA-601 trailhead up to Kelly’s Knob. It’s about a 3.8 mile round trip. It starts off steep with a roughly 500-600 foot ascent in the first half mile (Source: Elevation Map from weaselworks). Don’t let the beginning fool you though, once you make it up to the intersection of the John’s Creek Mountain Trail, it is all ridgeline and smooth sailing.
I’ve done Kelly’s Knob a number of times (see my other Kelly’s Knob posts), but this time was by far the snowiest. When we started our hike, there was a lone set of footprints already in the snow. Apparently that hiker was fooled by the steep beginning because surprisingly soon the footprints disappeared. That left us with fresh snow to hike in.
The top was as gorgeous as usual. As I have written before, you can see the Virginia Tech campus from Kelly’s Knob. That particular day, we didn’t take advantage of it. None of us were courageous/foolish enough to climb out onto the snow-covered rocks. Luckily, what we could see from the security of the trail was quite striking.
I didn’t see any American chestnut trees as we hiked (there are a whole bunch of them south of Rocky Gap) but I did spy an American Chestnut leaf in the snow!
The most trecherous part of our journey (for the humans) was actually driving home. With intentions I’m certain were good, someone had attempted to plow the gravel VA-601. Unfortunately the efforts had produced a formidable sheet of ice. We had 1.5 miles back down to paved and cleared road. 1.5 miles of a steep icy road with particularly unnerving dropoffs in lieu of shoulders. Ryan, Meredith and I all agreed Tony would be the most qualified to get us off the mountain. He did not let us down! In 4WD low and in first gear, with occassional brake pumping and steering the vehicle onto exposed gravel or loose snow, he slowly but surely got us down.
My heater in my car was broken which proved to be advantageous to our trusted driver.
“It’s a good thing [the heat's broken]” Tony pointed out. “Otherwise, I’d be sweating balls right now.” : )
Thanks to Tony’s patient driving, we all got to go home with untainted memories of another great adventure.
|Rocky Gap to Kelly’s Knob
(Appalachian Trail from VA-601 to Kelly’s Knob and back)
Mileage: 3.8 miles round trip
Elevation Difference: Est. 800 feet
4WD Requirements: The last 1.5 miles of VA-601 is a gravel hill, but it is well maintained and I have seen non-4WD vehicles make it up in non-icy conditions.
Trailhead Parking: The VA-601 trailhead has a small parking area to the left. On busy days, cars park on the side of the gravel road.
Along the way, you’ll pass by Sinking Creek Bridge, a covered bridge built in 1916.