Black Mountain Crest Trail

Black Mountain, North Carolina

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1 Review
4 out of 5
Once you’re on the Crest Trail, it’s a grueling yo-yo of a climb along the rocky spine of the Black Mountains. The first mile, to Mount Craig, is comparatively easy and if you’re just in it for the glory of conquering two peaks, this makes for a nice option. The trail then drops into a gap before climbing to 6581-foot Big Tom. It’s not so much the elevation gain; rather, it’s the fact that much of it is over boulders that require a fair bit of crab walking to conquer. In fact, much of the rest of the trail is like this. Up and down, a lot of bouldering.
100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina

DESCRIPTION FROM:

100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina

by Joe Miller (The Mountaineers Books)

Once you’re on the Crest Trail, it’s a grueling yo-yo of a climb along the rocky spine of the Black Mountains. The first mile, to Mount Craig, is comparatively easy and if you’re just in it for the glory of conquering two peaks, this makes for a nice option.

The trail then drops into a gap before climbing to 6581-foot Big Tom. It’s not so much the elevation gain; rather, it’s the fact that much of it is over boulders that require a fair bit of crab walking to conquer. In fact, much of the rest of the trail is like this. Up and down, a lot of bouldering.

©  Joe Miller/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Black Mountain
Distance: 13
Elevation Gain: 1,417 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 16 hours
Season: Best in Spring, summer, fall
Local Maps: Trails Illustrated Linville Gorge/Mount Mitchell; USGS Mount Mitchell, Celo
Driving Directions: Directions to Black Mountain Crest Trail

Recent Trail Reviews

8/29/2009
1

This is for the section of USFS 179 referred to in the park map as the Deep Gap trail. The Deep Gap trail runs 4.5 miles from the picnic area just north of the Mt. Mitchell parking area across Mt. Craig, Big Tom, Balsam Cone and Cattail Mountain, down to the shelter at Deep Gap and returning for a 9 mile round trip. I found this a very strenuous trail, much more so than the Mt. Mitchell trail. It took me 7hr 13 minutes to complete the 9 mile round trip (versus 6 hr 2 min for the 12-mile Mt. Mitchell round-trip), with only 2 short water breaks and 15 minutes for lunch at the shelter. Be aware that the weather atop Mt. Mitchell will be significantly cooler than the forecast for nearby Burnsville indicates. It was 58 degrees when I left just after 8 AM. The ridgeline was shrouded in clouds and there was a constant 20 mph wind from the west swirling the clouds. The trail often requires scrambles over rock (wet and slick from the high clouds), strenuous climbs and descents and lots of crab-walking over loose rocks and slick roots in gullies. There is one stretch, I believe it's coming down Balsam and about to ascend Cattail where there's a 2' wide trail that makes you hug a rock wall above the slope. I also saw bear sign at several points along the trail. You need to be very careful on this hike. If you aren't sure you can complete it, you probably shouldn't try. In that case, I'd recommend taking the first, easiest leg to Mt. Craig and returning. For me, the two toughest stretches were descending then later ascending Big Tom, where there are two rope-assisted scrambles, and the long descent/ascent from Cattail down into and out of Deep Gap. Climbing both these makes the return leg, I believe, slightly harder.



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Apr 2018