Explore the most popular hiking 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.

Awesome hike. Straight up to 6100 ft with just a few flat areas to recover. Late fall conditions- mud at the trailhead, leaves over trial to about 4800 ft, inch of snow rest of way up, with heavy ice around 5700 ft up. Started snowing for a few minutes, but clear at the top. Best trail ive done in the area. Had to turn back at Celo Knob due to conditions, but cant wait to finish the trail to Mt Mitchell.

Our late-November summit of Mt. Mitchell proved to be shrouded in clouds. But our disappointment was short lived, as the trees on our way to the top were dusted in a layer of white. It was freezing. It was windy. It was impossible to see more than 30 yards in front of you, but it was gorgeous up there!

This will go down as one of my favorite little hikes of all time. At first, we were bummed at the complete cloud cover. As we made our way to the top, the wind was gusting and the trees were dusted with white. It was gorgeous! We checked out the observation area at Mt. Mitchell before heading out on to Balsam. It was iced over at points, but oh so beautiful! It’s a short loop and you’ll wish it went on much longer. Don’t miss this one.

23 days ago

So this is about as difficult as an out back trail gets in the Appalations around Asheville. - IMHO. It’s awesome. And I doubt that I ever hike it again!

Previous reviews are spot on in terms of terrain, overlooks, rocks at top etc. Very difficult and technical on last mile but is something that any hiker can handle. Not dangerous. Just time consuming. I made the mistake of wearing a backpack for the exercise. My wife didn’t and I spent the whole way up chasing her and looking at her backside (which is a very nice view by its own right).

I highly recommend this trail if you want a great workout. And the two overlooks are fantastic. Also would be a great camping trip as great campsites around 2 miles around base of final 1,700 ascent.

The mileage is off. This is 8.15 round trip. 3,000 feet of gain so average gradient is brutal. Lots of sustained double digits. Average pace was 1.9 per. Coming down is brutal on the hips and knees.

5 stars for sure. The IPA and fries at Snap Dragon in Burnsville will be waiting for you.


Todd from Austin/Burnsville

Love how accessible it is for more people. I do miss the old tower but the current design accommodates many more people. Not really what one calls a hike, but we were breathing a little harder than usual when we reached the top. Surprised to see so many people up here today.. So grateful to live in these beautiful mountains!

Lovely easy trail! We love the scenery along this trail. The trees remind us of a medieval forest with layers of rich green lichen and boulders with icicles hanging in places. The fir, cedars, & spruce trees were wind blown and frozen with ice & snow. I wish I had my camera!!!The first time we’ve been on this trail in November. .It wasn’t the trail we intended to hike today but someone else had other plans for us! We met three worn out young men and a beautiful dog named Mia.. They had camped out near the base of Black Mt/Mt Mitchell trail and hiked to the top this morning.. We met them as they were making the long trek down the mountain. They were tired, the trail was slippery, and darkness would be on them before they finished.. We offered them a ride and made four new friends. Sort of sad to drop them off at the camp ground. They reminded us of our sons. Good luck fellas!!

It’s lovely !!

The trail is paved with brick. Very accessible, and it is cool to go to the tallest mountain, but not exactly fun hiking.

1 month ago

Great loop with amazing views!

Beautiful views, a hike that will get your heart pumping.

1 month ago

I began this trail as a loop hike. I parked first at the Park Office and was about to start on to Old Mitchell trail when I read a sign that instructed hikers of this trail to continue up the road and park at the restaurant . After relocating my car I started out on Old Mitchell. I continued to Camp Alice (Mountain to Sea?) to Commissary and from Commissary around to pick up Old Mitchell again near the Park Office to take me back to the restaurant. It made for a really great loop. Commissary was a nice rest for my legs before giving the final push back up to my car.

I really enjoyed this trail. I found it so be pretty challenging for me...but very do-able. I will say that I am a 55 year old woman in decent shape (I don't do much cardio these days, but I teach Yoga 5 days a week. I have hip issues and sometimes my knee acts up.)

The most challenging part of this trail was finding the proper the right foot placement with each step. The many large roots and rocks caused a few logistical issues. The trail was pretty wet when I went (thanks Hurricane Michael) I also went alone and never felt unsafe.

I had great footwear (Salomon) and a hiking pole/stick that acted up a lot, but when it (the pole) didn't, I was super grateful to have it with me. So I recommend bring one along. I saw a few groups of 20-somethings that flew by me with relative ease...some in regular Nike tennies. But that seemed rather careless to me as much of the trail had wet slippery rocks. One place on the trail had a rope to aid navigation (I had to sit down and slide down on that one.)

I saw only a few folks my age.

The trail was pretty clearly marked and I had no trouble finding the turn off for Camp Alice.

Definitely a great time and perhaps I will take it up to the summit next time.

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!

trail running
2 months ago

One of my favorite trails by far. Orange blazed. High Peaks maintains it very well— good signs and trail isn’t overgrown. There are cables and ropes on some of the more slippery rocky sections— helpful when it snows.

There are a few ways to get to the trail— from the far end of the trail at the Bowlen’s Creek parking area (you have to Ford the little creek, the bridge is sketchy). Here you will go up an old fire road for about 4 miles until you reach the ridge line. You can also park at the other end in Mount Mitchell State Park. There are also ways of accessing from side trails— if you don’t want to do the whole thing— for example, use the Woody Ridge Trail (park on White Oak) or Colbert Ridge Trail (park on Colbert Creek Road).

The trail has a lot of rocks and summits many 6000’ peaks— Mt Craig, Tom, Balsam Cone, Potato Hill, Winter Star, Mount Gibbs, Horse Rock, and Celo Knob (via a .20 mile overgrown spur trail.) the crest has amazing 360 views for a lot of it, also spruce- fir forests and stone staircases.

There is very little water on the trail, so bring some with. There is a spring on the Colbert Ridge side trail and a creek toward the Bowlen’s Creek end.

trail running
2 months ago

This trail is well blazed (yellow), very easy to follow, and not overgrown. There are a few amazing overlooks where one can view the Black Mountains. After the last overlook, one enters a spruce- fir forest— one of the only in the SE, it was a remnant of the last ice age.

It’s a good workout, especially on the up. The last mile is prone to getting icy on the winter, and is pretty rocky.

2 months 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!

Hiked with three young children from Mt Mitchell to Mt Craig and back. There are challenging parts, but our clan took it in stride. Beautiful walk and outstanding views.

I did this trail in September of 2015. Difficult but rewarding, bring water and a change of socks is a must due to always muddy conditions on the trail. Even in early September the temperature can be in the low 40’s -mid upper 60’s Make sure you also have some warm clothing because when the sun goes down it drops 15-20 degrees at 6,000 ft.

3 months 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

Outrageously beautiful on a mostly clear day in Sept. It is as hard as you would think, and so it is that rewarding to complete. If the weather is nice, give yourself time to enjoy the amazing views.

3 months ago

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 . .

Love this trail. It’s like stepping into an other-worldly movie set when you leave the picnic area at Mount Mitchell. I hiked out to Mount Craig and back. I’ve done it twice.

great views , Spruce Pines, Awesome hike

Great trail , very rugged hiked it on a weekday only saw 3 others on the trail. High peaks club has a section very well maintained from winter star , almost to the Woody ridge trail head .. beautiful views !

Hardest trail I’ve ever done, first backpacking experience, finally reached the end to find a dead car battery.... and I’d do it all over again. Highly recommend this trail just for the experience of all it has to offer

Challenging trail, lots of rocks and roots. We got to Mount Mitchell and the observation deck but it was too cloudy to see anything! Then it started raining. Check the weather carefully before you start this hike!

3 months 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.

3 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).

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