Trip of 2013.05.31

  • Succeeded: Yes
  • First-activation: No

See my trip planning guide at: SOTA Guide - W4G/NG-005 Tray Mountain and W4G/NG-011 Rocky Mountain

Commentary: I activated Tray Mountain (W4G/NG-005) and Rocky Mountain (W4G/NG-011) on Friday, May 31.

Tray Mountain:

I parked in the Tray Gap parking area, where Tray Mountain Rd passes nearest to Tray Mountain, and where it meets Corbin Creek Rd. (There’s a gate at the entrance to Corbin Creek Rd – it was open.)

The morning was foggy with intermittent drizzle. I couldn’t see much from Tray. I set up with my KX3 and an AlexLoop almost on top of the benchmark. I had no trouble getting out SMS messages and APRS messages. (There was lots of APRS traffic.) I didn’t make any 40m contacts. I made only a few 20m contacts. The propagation forecast was “Good” for 80-20m. I don’t know whether actual propagation was poor, not many chasers were active, or my antenna wasn’t getting out.

The summit is mostly patches of granite with some dwarf trees and rhododendron. If you’re a fan of self-supporting antennas (such as the AlexLoop on a tripod), this is a good site to use them.

The route to Tray is easy – just follow the AT blazes. Tray Mountain is in the eponymously named Tray Mountain Wilderness. You’ll pass by a big sign enumerating Wilderness Area rules. No mention of any limits on amateur radio. ;-) It is not a particularly difficult hike.

As I returned to the parking area, a family drove up Corbin Creek Rd and parked. The family and their dog piled out for a day in the woods. As I was leaving, I saw them puzzling over a large map. That kinda puzzled me: The AT is clearly marked, it goes up to Tray Mountain and down to Indian Grave Gap; there’s no other trail in the gap.

Rocky Mountain:

I parked at Indian Grave Gap. The AT crossing is well marked and there’s a good sized parking area. There is a side trail to the Andrews Cove campground at Highway 17.

The walk up Rocky is longer than Tray, and it has many stone steps. It is hard on the knees coming down. There are some pretty views near the top. I might have missed the side trail to the summit, had my GPS not chimed that I’d arrived.

There’s a pretty (but dry) campsite on the summit. Plenty of space for guying an antenna and nice trees to hang a wire. There’s shaded grassy space near the fire circle and a pine straw covered tent pad.


Tray Mountain Road was drivable in my Corolla. It wasn’t bad, but there are some erosion gullies and potholes which might be a problem if it degrades much more before maintenance happens. Indian Grave Gap Road is a little better shape, and it is definitely a shorter drive. The ford on Indian Grave Gap road wasn’t a problem, but there hadn’t been significant rainfall for several days. (Climbing out from the creek is a bit steep, so be sure not to come to a stop in mid-creek, so you’ll have some momentum.)