Black Mountain Crest Trail is a 10.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Burnsville, NC that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.
The Black Mountain Crest Trail is a point to point trail starting at Bowlens Creek Road and Ending at the Mt Mitchell Summit parking area or vice versa. Some find it easiest to start from the top. The trail follows the Mt Mitchell Ridge for the first 7 miles, traversing the largest collection of 6,000 ft peaks in the Eastern US. From Celo Knob, the trail descends about 3500 feet to Bowlens Creek. A car shuttle or drop off is recommended and parking is available at both the Mt Mitchell and Bowlens Creek trailheads.
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.
I extended my hike (back in March) to Mt. Craig and back after coming up to the top of Mt. Mitchell on the Old Mitchell Trail, getting in the summits of the two highest peaks east of the Mississippi River on the same hike. I definitely want to hike this trail again so I can go out much further. Lots of fun!
My 15 year old son and I hiked the trail 10/1/16 starting from Mt. Mitchell parking lot at the Deep Gap Trailhead. Our plan included hiking out to Celo Knob and back, seeking out the engraved benchmarks at the highest point of each peak along the way (we're doing the SB6K Challenge). I believe I'm in very good shape at 48 years old and my son has been conditioning with his high school football team for 8 weeks. We didn't anticipate the nearly 14 mile round trip to be quite as difficult as it was...but this was the most strenuous/grueling physical activity I've undertaken to date. We would highly recommend this trail though. It was an accomplishment we will not soon forget. There were some beautiful views!
For those of you looking to find the benchmark medallions on top of each peak, good luck! I think GPS coordinates would be the way to go, if they exist and you have a portable GPS unit. We scoured the top of Celo Knob and couldn't find the benchmark. It was difficult to find just where the top of Gibbs Mountain was to begin searching for the benchmark there. We struck out at Balsam Cone as well.
Excellent trail, well maintained, a lot of elevation changes, a ton of stone steps.
Great short day hike over to Mt. Craig with amazing views. Beyond that the trail gets a little more difficult due to less use and less trail maintenance. Of course that is all the more reason to go for many of us.
I started off from Bowlens creek; real nice public transport driver named "Junior" dropped me off night before. Woke up at 6:00 AM and hit it. I didn't see another person for 7-hours. It was a beautiful route. The beginning is a subtle path that leads up to 6,000 ft, which is where the trail gets going. The vistas are rich and vividly colored. If the day is nice and you are good on time, I would take a while to enjoy the first few miles. As you progress toward Mt Mitchell you'll lose the open vistas for more sparse vistas, as well you'll pass a dozen different micro-environments. I experienced intense fog, rain, and mud, back to sunshine, and fog. The farther you get into the route the greater you can feel how ancient the terrain is. It was a fabulous hike. Wish you an amazing experience!
I read this was the hardest hike on the East Coast. Hiked this trail on Friday and it did not disappoint! Strenuous hike with breathtaking views. I was able to finish it in one day but it was a very long day. If I get the chance to hike it again I'd love to spend the night.
Challenging hike worthy enough to talk about over beers. Starting from Mt Mitchell State Park, you'll need to take the Deep Gap trail. Roughly a 3 hour hike to campsites (Deep Gap) if you're carrying anything more than a daypack. The first campsite has flat ground for tents and theres a nice rock formation just behind the first site that is a great place to hang a hammock and protect you from the wind. It's been stated before, but I want to reinforce that will need to bring extra water if you plan on going overnight.
We hiked this trail a week ago in mid-May and the temps were 49 degrees with a wind chill much colder. While overcast, it was dry and the trail did not disappoint. The sun even poked out a few times. Starting from the Summit parking area, we traveled the Deep Gap / Black Mountain Crest trail to Mt. Craig (6,647'), Big Tom (6,581'), Balsam Cone (6,596' - could not find an elevation marker on site), Cattail Peak (6,584') and Potato Hill (6,475'). Lots of ups and downs, a really good workout. A couple of places required some rock scrambling, two places provided ropes (not required). About a 7 mile total out and back and about an aggregate 1,700 ft. elevation gain. Some really spectacular views from the peaks if you stick your head out above the rhododendron canopy. Between Big Tom and Mt. Craig on the west side of the trail we found the wreckage from an airplane - a white and yellow air ambulance - I found an ancient newspaper article on it from 1966 - https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1665&dat=19660524&id=okMaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UCQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6508,4079078&hl=en - not sure it's the same plane. We really enjoyed the hike, only needed about a liter and a half of water, and completed it in 4 and a half hours with all the picture taking, snacking and exploring the plane wreckage. Highly recommend this ridge trail for advanced hikers, and anyone can do the Mt. Mitchell to Mt. Craig 1 mile out and 1 mile back if they can scramble over a couple of rocky areas. Enjoy!
Used the Colbert Ridge to get here. Fun trail with great views.
A friend and I made this hike in early april a few years ago. We started at Mt. Mitchell and came out on Bowlens Creek. It could be done in a day, but we took our time and stayed overnight. I recommend planning to stay over night because there are so many great overhangs with amazing views. Weather switches from clear to thick fog pretty much every mtn. you walk over. Bring plenty of water, there isnt any good water sources that I noticed until right at the end. I would say calling it difficult is accurate. But anyone who grew up in the Appalachians and spent much time in the woods should be fine. I look forward to making the hike in reverse before to long
Started at Bowlens Creek on Friday, ended at Mt. Mitchell on Sunday. Great trail, just bring plenty of water. Very rough but worthy very step.
Started at Bowles Creek Trailhead. Hard to find, the terminus is at the end of Water Shed which is marked with a "PVT" on the street sign. Two small parking spots off road but don't pass it as there is no turnaround between there and the end of the road, another 300-400 yards.
First 4 miles are sufficiently challenging but easy to keep moving forward as the peaks promise views and a nice pace across the numerous other mountains on the trail. As with a lot of lower Appalachians, thick canopies heading up and trees all the way up including the peaks which diminish the overall views.
Definitely a trail worth doing. Tackled it on a Friday, and only did 8 of the ~11 miles before daylight concerns had me turn around but didn't see one other hiker.
I did the trail from mt mitchell to colberts ridge and down to near Carolina hemlocks campground.
very rocky trail down from deep gap.saw no one 2 miles out.
Did the hike from Bowlens Creek up to Mount Mitchell. Very strenuous and not for beginners, obviously. I went during a weekday and didn't see another soul until I was about 3 miles from Mount Mitchell. I had nothing but thick fog for the first half of the hike unfortunately so I didn't get any nice at views but I got my share on the second half. It took me about 7 hours total to complete the hike one way. Mileage was closer to 12 than 10.5.
Great views, although very strenuous.
Some friends and I hiked the trail last week and we agreed it was extremely strenuous. We started from Bolwens Creek and hiked to Mt. Mitchell and back to Bowlens Creek. The trail was much more steep and technical than expected. The elevation gain from Bowlens Creek parking to Celo Knob was especially tough! Overall, the hike is brutal, but the views are breathtaking.