Explore the most popular birding trails in Mount Mitchell State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I completed this loop yesterday going down Mt. Mitchell trail and up Big Tom. The BHT section was a muddy mess from all the recent rain. Took me just under 4 hours to complete while taking my time. It was definitely tough and I thoroughly enjoyed it and the views were great! I'm not sure if me or my dog enjoyed it more.

I read others reviews and must admit I have not been there since it was remodeled per se! I loved it! The old tower was cool! It was interesting because it was freezing in the altitude below but warm above the clouds the day we were there!

hiking
12 days ago

This trail is so beautiful! the expose roots, the overflowing moss... definitely a beautiful trail. Continue on this trail up to reach the overlook!

We did this hike over Easter in a day. It was tough and we got super lucky with the weather. The night before was a blizzard and others did not get so lucky. The trail has a LOT of tree roots and very steep, pretty much the entire way. Super rewarding trip but the summit is crowded with people who can drive to the top so it does take away from the experience of hiking. Bring fuel and a lunch, you will need it for this long hike! It took us 8 hours but we had to stop a bit for the dogs. We saw a lot of people hurting on the way up so make sure you’re ready, get an early start, and have the proper gear if you attempt this strenuous hike.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a challenging but rewarding hike! The Commissary Trail itself is indeed easy, but the loop depicted in the map takes you on several other trails, including the Camp Alice Trail which I would rate as hard. In the end though, a really great hike with lots of diverse scenery. I had been to the Mount Mitchell summit before by driving up, so it was a fun accomplishment to really work for it.

Beautiful trail thru thick forest. A fairly easy walk with not a lot of elevation change

Great hike started at walkers knob to CR gap . A really good view of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountain great view of the Wilson boundary from little Butt . There’s a grand old tree just past flat springs leaning heavily ,it’s old and tired but still standing . The tree alone is worth the hike . .

1 month ago

Ran this trail on a Saturday morning in late August. I arrived around 8am and mine was the only car at the Walker Knob parking area, but the place was packed when I returned 3 hours later. I found the trail quite overgrown in spots, but this may be peak summer growth, and it was exacerbated by the fact that I was running in shorts. Definitely has plenty of challenging uphill segments and varied terrain, from very rooty to wide and grassy to pine paths to constructed wooden stairs. The out and back clocked just a little bit shy of 11 miles, including the side trip up to the geodetic survey marker at the peak (pink blazes).

A tough but enjoyable trail. A lot of steep steps. Trail is well maintained.

hiking
2 months ago

There are two ways to get to Big Butt: a stiff steep hike from NC 197 at Cane Gap or a longer ridge and multi peak climb from the Walker Knob Overlook on the BRP about 5 miles south of the Mount Mitchell State park entrance (NC 128). I took the latter route which longer, but ultimately more rewarding as you climb Brush Fence Ridge, and up and over Point Misery and Little Butt before arriving at the side trail to the summit of Big Butt.

These peaks form the western rim of the Black Mountain and lie thousands of feet above the Cane River Gorge that can be head roaring below when you get to Little Butt. The forest resembles the Mount Mitchell Trail flora and fauna, event though the elevations do not exceed 6000 feet. The trail is well maintained by the the NC High Peaks Trail Association and included hundreds of wooden step that make the climbs much easier to maneuver. The best views lie on the ridge between Little Butt and Big Butt. Unfortunately clouds rolled in when I hiked this track and so was only able to catch short glimpses of the valley to the east (and not the Black Mountain Crest). Hiking this route in early spring or late fall should give you a better chance of good weather and less foliage blocking vistas.

From the Walker Knob Overlook, take the trailhead to the SOUTH. **Be careful here as an old forest road and the Mountains to Sea also converge in the field behind the overlook parking lot. You will descend over a hundred feet before gently ascending to the top of Brush Fence Ridge and finally to the summit of Point Misery (the name was not indicative of this side of the mountain - the return trip up the backside will give you an appreciation of why it is appropriately named). The HP is just off the trail and there is a Geodetic Marker as well as several marked bearing trees nearby.

From there, descend steeply over 300 feet to a grassy gap and then ascend up a series of stairs around giant rocks to the inauspicious peak of Little Butt Mountain. The trail continues a very narrow ridge reminiscent of the Amphibuolite Mountains. Look for rock outcrops to the right and left of the trail for some tremendous views of the Black Mountains (east) and the Craggy Mountains (west).

Continue along the ridge ascending gently to a well marked side trail to the left that will take you via an interesting semi-open trail to the summit of Big Butt. No ascertainable views here, but I accidentally surprised a nide of about 30 pheasants. The tremendous fluttering and so much wing flapping and feathers flying gave a feeling of both being on the the set of THE BIRDS and of marveling at the sight of these beautiful creatures. Then the rain started. It continued off and on on the hike back and was so intense at times that I felt more like this was the Amazon rain forest, not western NC. And yet, once I got wet, it was pleasant. Only real obstacle was the relentless climb back up to Point Misery.

Of course once I got back to the car, the rain stopped and the sun came out! For completists, cross the road and hike to the crest of Walker Knob on the M-to-S trail (see separate entry for more detail on this peak and others described above).

hiking
2 months ago

I agree with other reviewers, that the classification of easy for this trail is off a bit. If you are out of shape like me, I would classify it as moderate to hard. Experienced hikers who are in good shape would probably find it easy to moderate. The Commissary trail segment is fairly easy, but the uphill and downhill sections are considerably harder, especially in the very wet conditions I experienced. It is a great hike to escape hot temperatures in August. I was up on 8/12 and the temp was mid-60s. The view from the summit is worth the hike, though you may find it a little crowded from April to October.

hiking
2 months ago

Paved trail to the summit. Slightly steep but well worth the trek up for the 360 degree views.

The trail is maintained great. I would not say this is an easy trail though. It is fairly steep. The view is nice but would be much better if the tower was unlocked.

Whew this was maybe the the toughest trail I've ever done. It's dark in that forest. I can imagine Hansel and Gretel sitting there waiting for their parents to come back for them. It rained part of the trip but it was refreshing not annoying. The path is rocky and covered with tree roots. The views up at the parking lot are fantastic. I only did half this trail, I got picked up at the top.

Was more of a walk up to the summit then a hike, nicely paved and great views from every direction. They have built this for all ages so that all can reach the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail!! There are trails to hike when you get there. Beautiful!!

hiking
2 months ago

just did hike to big tom turn off but even cutting it short like that its a great trail.

Park at Green Knob Overlook at milepost 350.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Trailhead is north about 100 yards on the opposite side of the road.

Beautiful views from all around. Fairly easy and paved.

Beautiful views from all around. Fairly easy and paved.

Nice, short trail to the summit of the highest point east of the Mississippi River.

Most amazing view in North Carolina! I went a few months back in February and was not disappointed! It was windy and cold the day my family went but on the trail there was plenty of shielding from trees and bushes and once at the top it was warm anyway. During the winter months there is close to no traffic at all we saw two other people and that was it. Moderate trail would no doubt hike again!

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked this on a cloudy day, so the top out at the summit was disappointing. However the hike is nice enough. Too many 4 and 5 stars for this, though, I think. Also, it is not easy, I would say moderate to strenuous - the last mile is straight up Mitchell, over lots of boulders and roots, it's basically a stairclimber through a beautiful cedar and spruce forest. The Commissary is 1.2, then camp Alice and Mitchell portions are about 1.1 to 1.4 to the summit, and is very strenuous. It's an OK hike. Better than Mt Pisgah trail for sure. There are lots of pretty wildflowers. If it is cloudy, it's a 3, if it's clear, it's a 4.5 for the views.

hiking
3 months ago

Short loop through high elevation pine forest. Lots of interpretive signs tell about the unusual plants, algae, and fungi that grow up here. Some rocks and roots in the treadway, but far easier than most of the other trails on Mt. Mitchell. Provides a nice, less crowded, alternate route back to the parking lot after you have visited the summit of Mt. Mitchell.

Paved trail to the summit of Mt. Mitchell, highest point in the Appalachian Mountains. Not really a hike but more of a walk to the summit. Trail is somewhat steep, but rest benches are provided at several places. Remember that the air is thin at this elevation, so you will get winded faster than usual. This is a nice option for people who cannot do one of the park's harder trails.

trail running
3 months ago

I only did 6 miles (RT). I started at the Walker Knob overlook, off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take path to the Left that points in the direction of Big Butt. You will be on Big Butt Trail. In 6 miles (RT), you can ascend and descend Pt. Misery (no view), and climb to Little Butt Overlook. There is a rock outcropping with a view here. I kept going pass Little Butt overlook for another half-mile. The trail is a bit less well-maintained after Little Butt, but still very obvious for the additional half-mile that I took. When I got to 3 miles, I turned around and returned to parking lot. Nice trail. Enjoyed the hike. Ran for much of it. Do this is you want a great walk in the woods. Trail has lots of steps--see photos.

Great views along this trail.

beautiful, short walk, great for kids

hiking
3 months ago

Enjoyed the trail but the map is a little misleading. Reading the route with a CCW loop, only the first 1.8 miles is Commissary. After that the trail difficulty is medium/hard as you hike the Mount Mitchell Trail until it joins the Balsam Nature Trail, right near the summit. You cross the Summit Trail and then are on the Old Mitchell Trail until it meets the Camp Alice Trail. Camp Alice is a .5 mile steep descent along a rocky and rooted trail. It ends at the 1 mile to go point for Commissary as you make your way back to the Commissary trailhead. Commissary itself is a wide gravel trail that is easy to hike. No fee for the trail. Restrooms at the trailhead visitor center. And, only 12 parking spots. There's a restaurant about .2 miles up the road and there's a snack bar at the summit.

walking
3 months ago

Loved the walk thru semi dense woods. Found unexpectedly and didn’t have much time. It was easy, short but still not for everyone. A lot of zig and zags, steps and rocks. Beautiful!

Love this little place... been several times now ...

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