Summit Activated - W4G/HC-043, Vineyard Mountain, Georgia

Perfect weather, convenient site to Atlanta, moderate-level hike – at least the planned part of the hike was moderate. Important learning – Yes, chasers will show up for a 1-point summit. Thanks guys!


  • 10 QSO at 10 watts on 20 and 40 meters. 14.340 and 7.262.

Thank you chasers!


  • Scheduled for 11:45 Eastern. On the air from about 11:00 to 11:30. 2 December, 2012


  • Elecraft KX3.


  • Easy site for antennas.
    • Trees around the opening at the summit.
    • Space to guy out a vertical.
  • Antenna I used:
    • 20/40 meters - EFHW on 31’ Jackite with EARCHI 20 meter matchbox. Bungee-corded it to the trunk of a tilted tree.
    • I used a counterpoise of about 21-20 feet.
    • Next time, if I remember, I’ll remove the matchbox when I move from 20 to 40.

Cell Phone Coverage

  • Easy cell coverage is available at the summit.

Getting There - Driving

  • When the Riverside Day Use Area is open, just follow Google Maps directions to Alatoona Dam Road, and follow it to the dam.
  • When the Riverside Day Use Area is closed, exit at Red Top Mountain Road, and park across the road from the Sunoco station.
  • Call the Army Corps of Engineers and find out whether Riverside Day Use Area is open, before you go!

Getting There - Hiking

The plan was to park at the Riverside Day Use Area, just below Alatoona Dam, and hike up the Eagle Scout Trails to the summit. But the road was gated just before Riverside. And there were plenty of “no parking” signs around the gate, and there was a gate house (to permit traffic to the dam?), so ditching the car and hiking up the road to the trailhead was out. My guess is that they close the road for the winter, and it will re-open in the spring.

Google Maps shows a route via Red Top Mountain Rd to Somerset Ln. Somerset is a gated community, and there wasn’t an easy walk around the gate, so Plan B wasn’t looking good either.

I was headed home and just before the I-75 entrance ramp, I noticed a rusty gate and a bit of pavement on the right. If you look at Google Maps, you’ll see two features:

  • A big gravel parking lot half-way up the entrance ramp.
  • Just east of the lot, there’s an old, abandoned dirt road running north.

Getting there, plan C:

  • Park at the gate. Facing the gate from Red Top Mountain Road, you’re going to take the old pavement to your left.
  • Follow the old pavement to the gravel lot.
  • Exit the gravel road on the north, following the narrow, abandoned dirt road.
  • After a bit, the road crosses a dry creek bed.
  • A bit more, and the road crosses a wet creek. Slippery rocks!
  • A bit more, and you’ll pass a small site with a small diesel generator, and you’ll start following power lines.
  • Then you come to the paved road with picnic “Shelter B” and restrooms that are shown on the Alatoona Lake Trail Guide, south of Alatoona Dam Road, just below the dam.
  • When you arrive at Alatoona Dam Road, turn right, and you’re at the trailhead for the Eagle Scout Trails.
  • Follow the well-marked, yellow-blazed trial until it intersects the blue-blazed trail and the red-blazed trail at a small bench.
  • Follow the red-blazed trail up.
  • When you arrive at the cell tower, you’re on top.

Exit, or Entrance Plan D:

I’ll describe my route out. You could follow it in the opposite direction to get in.

  • Take the gravel road leading south from the cell tower.
  • You’ll come to a paved road.
    • This looks like a subdivision, about to happen. There are lots of signs that say “Lot xx” and “Sold,” and there are utility boxes, water hydrants, and sewer lines, but no houses - yet.
    • Up the paved road to your right, there’s a gated gravel road to a water tower. I think you could walk up this road to the water tower, and then walk from the water tower to the cell tower, but I didn’t try it. I definitely did see the water tower from the cell tower, and it has a clearing around it (as shown on Google Maps).
  • Turn left onto the paved road.
  • After a bit, you come to a gate, and a fancy house on your left, and a dirt road on your right.
  • Take the dirt road on your right.
  • After a bit, the dirt road forks, with a Private Property No Tresspassing sign to the right, so take the left fork.
  • Follow this dirt road for a bit. After awhile, it sorta fades into nothing, right about the point where the topo shows a dirt road intersection. I think that what happened here is that there was a clearing at the intersection, and it filled with pine saplings. I know that the road disappears at the thicket of pine saplings.
  • Skirt the pine thicket around its left side, generally heading south, to southwest. You’ll see the road again on your right, once you’re past the short pines. Briefly. Then it fades again.
  • Continue heading south, staying in the clearest areas, out from under most of the trees.
  • You’ll come to Red Top Mountain Road, and you’ll be near the opposite end of the old pavement that you took when you started your hike.

GPS Waypoints

  • Red Top Mountain Rd trailhead = N34.14392 W84.73577
  • Wet creek crossing = N34.15521 W84.73730
  • Eagle Scout trailhead = N34.16193 W84.73458
  • Junction of Yellow, Blue, Red blazed trails = N34.16056 W84.73130
  • Summit = N34.15900 W84.72860
  • Gravel road from cell tower meets paved subdivision road = N34.15783 W84.72771
  • Leave subdivision road for dirt road = N34.15469 W84.73147
  • Fork in dirt road. (Go left) = N34.15477 W84.73444
  • Lost the trail in the pine thicket = N34.14854 W84.73567
  • Found the trail/road = N34.14637 W84.73526
  • Trail indistinct. Just head southish = N34.14497 W84.73545
  • 90 degree right turn, to re-join old pavement = N34.14424 W84.73507

GPX trace for the hike

Time Log

  • 9:15 - parked
  • 10:30 - summit
  • 10:55 - ready to transmit
  • 11:00-11:30 - on-the-air
  • 11:45 - packed
  • 12:50 - back at car