Mount Mitchell

OutAndBack • 12 mi • 3700 ft

Mt. Mitchell—the highest peak east of the Mississippi—is a crowning part of the Blue Ridge Parkway experience. The only motorized access to the mountain is from the Parkway, at Milepost 355.3, and the summit is only a 5.0-mile detour. Don’t miss it—even on a dismal day. The 1,700-acre Mt. Mitchell State Park—North Carolina’s first state park— clings to the highest peak of the Black Mountains, a serrated string of summits that juts away from the Parkway and Blue Ridge to dominate the western skyline of North Carolina. Cut by landslides that appear as snow-and-ice-covered chutes in winter, the mighty Blacks are frequently seen from the Parkway as a dark ridgecrest rising above the clouds. The range includes six of the ten highest peaks in eastern North America. This eTrail includes three hike options, Mt. Mitchell Trail to Mt. Mitchell, Balsam Nature Trail, and Black Mountain Crest Trail.
Download Trail Guide
View Topo Map
Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Asheville
Length: 12 total miles
Elevation Gain: 3,700 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Three hike options from easy to extremely strenuous
Duration: Varies by option chosen
Season: Best spring through fall
Local Contacts: Mt. Mitchell Wildlife Management Area
Local Maps: USGS Old Fort, Mt. Mitchell
Recent Photos ( View All Photos )
Got photos of this trail?  Upload Now
Write a Review

The trailhead for the Mount Mitchell trail starts in the Black Mountain Campground, just off NC 80. There's a small parking area, cross the bridge into the campground, then the first left. The trail elevates from 2200' to 6600' over the course of 6 miles. It's somewhat steep, narrow in many places, rocky and tangled with roots. I've hiked a lot of NC and I thought it was a pretty tough trail. The views along the trail come mostly when the switchbacks cross under the power line to the top. There's a glade about 2/3 the way up where you can see Clingman Peak to the west. Of course, the view from the observation deck is excellent on a clear day. Going up took me 3:12, coming down 2:46. You still have to pick your way relatively carefully coming down. Those 6 hours on the mountain were all I wanted to do. I will probably be back to do Deep Gap in a couple of weeks.


Excellent Trail for beginning mtn climbers. Difficulty out of 5, I'll give 3. Worth the trip!!!!


Be forewarned the observation tower is under construction and all trails leading up to it are blocked off so you cannot get to the top of the mountain, only as far as the parking lot. There was no information as to when the observation tower will reopen.


The Old Mitchell trail up to Mitchell is good hiking. A little slippery, even with good shoes. Poles would have made this an even better hike. Personally, this hike is all about the journey, I was a little disappointed in the view from the top. Maybe I caught it on an off day. The hike itself is worth it.


The day i started my hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell the sky was overcast and cloudy.The trail is rocky and chock-full of roots thru the first 1/3 of the trail and on this day the rocks were wet and slippery.The summit was reached in 4 hours-5.6 miles .This trail did not live up to the hype which was afforded it by the locals.The view at the summit was obscured by the grey clouds and fog.Later that day i did climb atop the observation tower at Mount Mitchell state park and took in the outstanding views.I did pick blueberries on the trail from more than one tree which was neat.I suggest wearing sturdy hiking shoes or hiking boots.Nice steady climb,moderately difficult-3 stars.


Beautiful views! There are several trails at this state park just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail that leads from the picnic area (Deep Gap trail)climbs to the second highest peak in NC (Mt. Craig). Don't kid yourself, this trail is rough and very steep. I went to run, but found myself wishing I had on boots (I know the two guys I passed had to be laughing at the site of a runner on that trail, but they were kind) It was 56 degrees in July and the weather turned even colder and rain came from nowhere. Be prepared.

View More