Not being any richer the following weekend, and feeling unmotivated for a big day or a long drive anyway, I decided I would go up on the Big Survey and check out a couple areas off-trail that I had reason to believe I might find some new views from. This would allow me to claim another ascent of Peak 3460, just so I could get in a peak for the day. It would also take me through the “Garden of the Gods”, a neat little area of Lick Mountain where there are a number of large rock outcrops strewn along a powerline swath and throughout the adjacent woods. Several of these have rather unusual forms and I have given them my own names, completely unofficial, but descriptive and appropriate nevertheless. Not to be confused with other better known, more spectacular, and larger areas having the same name, including ones in Colorado, Utah, Illinois, and Hawaii, this “Garden of the Gods”, as far as I know, is also completely unofficial in its naming. It’s definitely not on the map, and though I had been there quite a few times over the years, I had never heard it called that before I stumbled across the name online a few years ago. That is still the only place I personally have seen it named that - in a newsletter published by the Virginia Herpetological Society. It was one of several sites on the Big Survey where they went for a field trip to study the native reptiles and amphibians, and they described it as “a ridge of large limestone outcrops and boulders bisected by a powerline right-of-way”. Actually, I think the rocks are a mixture of sandstone and quartzite, but I’m no geologist. Regardless, I’ve done enough caving that I’m fairly confident there is no limestone on this ridge.
|The "Moai". Leanne scrambled atop for scale.|
|"The Three Gossips"|
|Overlooking Wytheville from near Point 3439|
Upon leaving the second view, I dropped down to the south into the other area of outcrops and got a pretty good angle on the “Bunny Ears” then made my way back to the powerline. From here I bushwhacked up to another outcrop about 100’ below the crest of the mountain and 4/10 mile east of Peak 3460. This one had some pretty good views of where I had just been, as well as a wider view to the north and northeast. Not really any good places to sit, but maybe worth an occasional return visit since it’s only about 100 yards off of the trail which I then climbed up to for the final leg of the hike. All in all, a well spent few hours close to home with something old and something new.
*Note - As of January 1, 2012 the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries requires a permit for all recreational use on state owned wildlife management areas, of which Big Survey is one. You are already covered if you possess a valid state hunting or fishing license. Otherwise you must purchase either a day ($4) or an annual ($23) access permit. You may buy these from any license agent or online from their website here.
The route of this hike with side trips. To view a larger map click here.
1,100' cumulative elevation gain
Garden of the Gods only (out and back)
860' cumulative elevation gain
|Garden of the Gods, VA|
Pictures from other hikes to the Garden of the Gods
There are also two scanned pics from prior to 2007 in this album
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Trailhead coordinates: 36.90369,-81.03585
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