Beyond 6,000 - The Southern Sixers

By Hiram Rogers

If you have been around the mountains much you've probably heard of peak bagging groups like the Colorado Fourteeners or the Adirondack 46. But even if summits are your cup of tea, you've probably never heard of the South Beyond 6,000. Here's a group of 40 mountains below the Mason-Dixon Line that all break the 6,000-foot contour. The group includes a few of the famous like Mt. Mitchell, the highest point in the Eastern United States, and Clingmans Dome, the highpoint of the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. But many of the others are all but unknown to even the most diehard hikers.

While other mountain regions have problems with crowds and overuse, on the Southern Sixers peak bagging hasn't caused trouble. Sure, some of the summits are crowded, but these are the easy and accessible places that would be packed even if no one had heard of the Southern Sixers. In fact, almost half the forty summits require some bushwhacking, and are almost never visited, except by the few Sixer wannabes. Combine this difficult access with viewless summits in thick forests, and you've got a built-in antidote to crowd problems.

Why Go?
If you have to ask why anyone would struggle to the top of mountain, the 6,000-footers won't be for you. But it is reasonable to ask why walk these particular peaks, especially since some can be reached on far easier trails, and others demand unpleasant struggle without the reward of even a summit view. For Brevard NC's Dave Wetmore, the lure is the feeling of looking out on a high mountain view "and knowing I've climbed every high peak that I can see." For others it is simply the challenge of walking the miles, climbing the hills, and setting aside a few exhausting weekends.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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