There are a few places in the world that still stand apart from the ordinary. Rising more than a mile high, surrounded by the gentle mist of low-hanging clouds, Mount Mitchell State Park is one of these extraordinary places. In the crest of the timeworn Black Mountains lies the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. For those who ascend this mighty peak, what looms in the horizon is a feast for the eyesbreathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling ridges and fertile valleys. Forested and forever misty, 1,946-acre Mount Mitchell State Park will provide you with some of the most tranquil moments you'll ever experience.
This was a wonderful hike geared towards summiting the eastern US's highest peak the hard way instead of driving up. We completed it with two 13 year old girls. One of whom had never hiked before. The total up and down is 4200 ft with a net elevation gain of 3700 ft from the black mountain campground parking area. The total length is 12 miles from the parking lot to the summit and back. As others have said, it is a tough hike because of the rocks and roots. For this time of year, it is often wet and covered with leaves which can make it slow on the way down. It took us eleven hours round trip including time at the top. There was no ice but a very wet a muddy trail.
Great hike. Unfortunate heavy fog when I hiked yesterday 1/14. It's a challenge and about the most I like to do in a day. Bring plenty of food and water. Made it up in 4 hours and back down in 3.5. Waterproof boots a good idea. Trekking poles optional.
We hiked up from Cane River Gal and only went about 6.6 of the trail round trip because of a late start. A beautiful frosty day in January before the first ridiculously late snows of the season. A great trail and cardiovascular work out. We stopped just shy of the hill around Bug Butt and walked into the woods finding a spring head and draw that leads to Indian Fork River.
Beautiful trail. Unless you have ice spikes for your shoes around this time of year, I would recommend waiting for a warmer time. Slept in my car with my dog and it got down to 14 degrees at night. Started our hike in the morning and it was about 18 degrees. The highest temperature on the trail was 25 degrees. Lots of ice covering the trail so be very careful. Took us about 7 hours round trip, 4 up and 3 down. The pup loved it, it was her first major hike. She's well behaved so I had her off leash the entire time until we got a few hundred feet from the top and I threw her leash on since we were officially inside the park. Cold but worth it. Beautiful views. The trail splits at one point, we went on the Higgins Bald trail, where there's some amazing campsites. Eventually it met the old mt Mitchell trail which we took in the way down to switch it up. There were tons of leaves covering that part of the trail as opposed to Higgins Bald. I'm surprised I didn't twist an ankle heading down. Mostly rocks and roots the entire trail with a few streams and some flat areas for camping. Great hike, not for beginners or those who are known to turn back easily.
Definitely will test your strength so wouldn't suggest this as your first hiking experience but the whole hike is filled with great views. Coming down you have to be careful with all the roots and rock it can be very easy to injure a foot or leg and to trip and fall
Hiked with my daughter age 9 from Bowlens creek off of Watershed RD. Hiked to deep Gap day 1. It was 8 miles and 4000 feet of elevation gain (7 hours) then day 2 hiked to Mt Mitchell Summit 3.8 miles approx 2000 ft of elevation gain (5 hours) so in total your pushing 12 miles and approx 6000 ft of elevation gain. Most brining in the first 4 miles but there are a few more big climbs along the way.
The trail it's self is the hardest we have encountered. We have done a lot of hiking, always trying to find the toughest trails and take them on. (This one is the toughest) not a starter hike.
Another obstacle was getting a ride to the trail head. I parked my car at the upper parking area and needed to catch a ride to the trail head at bowlens creek. I called several shuttle services but none covered that specific area. I ended up finding (Yancey County Transportation Authority) 828 682- 6144. I scheduled my ride a week in advance for $21 per person. The bus was nice and the driver gave lots of facts and cool stories about the trail and mountain range. I highly recommend going this route.
In summary this trail goes over 7 summits over 6000 feet it is one of the hardest in the east. It is very rewarding with awesome views and some major changes in scenery along the route. If you are looking for a challenge Go For It. If you are uncertain of you physical abilities or are inexperienced choose another route.
Also don't judge this review based off the fact that I did it with my 9 year old daughter
She is also an experienced hiker/ climber. I would not recommend not bringing young children on this trail unless they have been training for it and you are sure of their physical ability and capability to climb and move through rocky and rough terrain.
The last thing I will leave you with is bring lots of water. We went in November when it was cold carrying more than a gallon of water per person and still ran out in the last mile.