BM Maiden marks the intersection of Clinch and Garden mountains in SW Virginia. The BM is on the high spot and the highpoint of Tazewell county. Suprisingly it is the 7th tallest peak in Virginia. The summit is in the Jefferson NF, and this peak lies on the northern edge of the Beartown Wilderness
. This 5900+ acre wilderness valley lies between Clinch/Garden Mountains, and Chestnut Ridge (The Appalachian trail follows Chestnut Ridge as it climbs up to Garden Mountain). It is remote (by east coast standards) and rugged with elevations ranging from 2200 in the valley to 4710 at the summit. "The vegetation is diverse, featuring Appalachian hardwoods, northern spruce-fir, northern hardwoods, hemlock, a sphagnum bog, and a few rare plants." (USFS website) You may see signs of bear, turkey or deer, and you're certain to see many smaller mammals and a great variety of birds. There is one trail in the wilderness and Roaring Fork is a native brown trout stream. This is a beautiful area, I saw no sign of use when I camped in the wilderness. From the summit on the trail to Hutchinson Rock, there are some outstanding views of Burkes Garden
. Burkes Garden is the highest valley in Virginia; almost completely surrounded by Garden Mountain it is often called "Gods thumbprint" (see link)
BM Maiden is SSW of Hutchinson Rock). I suspect the only people who hike this mountain are peakbaggers, maybe some local residents or hunters.
The usual route to the summit is via the Appalachian trail at Walker gap. This is accessed from Burkes Garden. Follow CR 727 from Burkes Garden to Walker Gap and the AT. Hike south to the Chestnut Knob shelter. From this point take a combination of roads and off trail along the Tennessee valley Divide to BM Maiden. Trip reports (TR) can be reviewed at the county highpointers website
. Chestnut Knob can also be hiked via the AT from the south (Laurel creek).
My first summit was a bushwhack from the western side, Thompson Valley. The flat plateau, west of the highpoint, is miserably thick with mountain laurel and blueberries bushes.
I have also summited from Roaring Creek, up Redoak ridge. This involves >2000' gain. The only trails are logging skids being reclaimed by nature and hunter trails. This is difficult. I am hesitant to park my car on the FS road along Laurel Creek in this remote area. There are hunter cabins, ask permission to park in someones yard near the TH.
I have hiked to the BM from Low Gap and Hutchinson Rock. You traverse private property below Low Gap. There is no trail between Low Gap and the next gap WSW of Hutchinson Rock. Hutchinson Rock is 40' fissured limestone with arches and alcoves. It is amazing!
Access via Walker Gap is on USFS land.
Camping at the shelter on the AT and there are spots at/near the highpoint. There is limited water.
When to climb
The conditions should mirror the conditions at Grayson Highlands. Weather could be very challenging in winter.
Many consider this one of the harder highpoints in Virginia. From Walker Gap it is 10+ mile RT. The broad summit plateau (west of BM Maiden) at the intersection of Garden and Clinch mountains is, in places, an impenetrable thicket of Laurel and Blueberries, high elevation sphagnum bog, rhododendron hells with high elevation hardwood. Traversing this is not necessary to reach BM Maiden
The jeep road from Thompson Valley (near Thompson cemetery) up onto Clinch Mt ends as shown on the USGS quad and requires an extensive and difficult cross country hike to reach the highpoint. One needs to be proficient with map, compass, and cross country travel. The USGS quad in Hutchinson Rock.
I am proficient at off trail travel. I summitted BM Maiden in July 2009 from the base of Redoak Ridge at Roaring Fork. It took us 9 hours to cover ~14 miles and 2500' elevation gain. We were equipped with map, compass and gps. We took few breaks, walking almost the entire time. It would be very easy to get lost on the broad summit area mentioned above.
This is a wonderful place to explore. The only sign of man were survey tape and a gypsy moth trap high on Clinch Mt.