Black Mountain Crest Trail

HARD 80 reviews
#2 of 22 trails in

Black Mountain Crest Trail is a 10.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Burnsville, North Carolina 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.

DISTANCE
10.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5095 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

no dogs

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.

backpacking
19 days ago

This was my first backpacking adventure. Probably not the wisest choice for my first time out, but why start small?

Started at the Bowlens Creek trailhead and the first four miles are grueling and exhausting. Once you get to the top of that, you have a reward of incredible views and more level hiking. Following that, more steep terrain, breathtaking views and absolute exhaustion. We did a total of eight miles before making camp at Deep Gap.

The next day was only four miles through woods and into the National Forest side of the trail. Interesting terrain and some steep climbs aided by ropes as we got to the top of Mt. Craig and then finally to the summit of Mt. Mitchell. A total of 12 miles for us on our first backpacking adventure.

If you are looking to push your limits and really want to challenge yourself, this is the trail to do this on. Add it to the bucket list to hike what North Carolinians refer to as “The Death March”. It’s a challenge, but so rewarding!

hiking
26 days ago

Excellent hike. You will probably need to split this trail up in to two days. Multiple beautiful peaks and strenuous hiking.

hiking
1 month ago

I wanted to leave a review here since this weekend me and a group of friends hiked the trail and ended up getting lost and not making it home until 11:00pm. The trail starts at Water Shed, which is a private drive at the end of a turn, so it's easy to miss. Once you walk down the private road you will see some previous parking spots that are now marked off as private (3 cars were still using the spaces however). The trail from there is very pretty, as you are walking along side a creek the whole time. The creek has tons of beautiful falls where you can take pictures and you will stumble across an abandoned bridge as well as what appears to be an old dam as well. When you continue on the trail you will eventually find yourself getting to a trail head where you can stay on Black Crest or move down to a small trail that appears to lead to a road called North Fork. This is where you need to be aware that although Google Maps, MapQuest, and All Trails have that road as an actual street, IT IS NOT! Our plan was to get to the cut off where you will notice a trial that leads to to Winter Star Road, and follow that until our ride could pick us up. WARNING! North Fork Road and Winter Star ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE BY VEHICLE! We passed 2 gentleman on ATV's who told us the quickest way to get the main road was to stay on North Fork, which was accurate, however there is a turn on there that is not labeled and we ended up walking almost 2 hours to a dead end trail. We had been hiking for over 8 hours and had no water or food left, and despite filling up water in the spring we hadn't come across any other water sources for several hours. With night setting in and no service or idea where to go, I got lucky and happened to get some service in a overlook and called 911. They informed us that North Fork is an actual road, but it is only state maintained for the very beginning, and although it shows up as a road on Goggle Maps, it doesn't become paved or lead to civilization for several miles. Fortunately, after 11.5 hours and 19 miles of hiking we were able to get down to where the paved road started and were given a ride back to our place. Although we were all good to go and happy to be back we got lucky and avoided a nightmare. We had no water, no food, had been hiking for almost 12 hours, and no flashlights except for our phones and 2 out of the 4 were already dead, with mine only at 13%. Luckily the ranger we talked to on the phone was able to put us in the right direction because we weren't sure if we were going to make it out that night or the next morning.

Morale of the story, stay on the trail. I understand it was making the road seem like a trail but what we should have done is just turn around and come back after we met the fork. For anyone planning on hiking this trail make sure you don't plan on taking Winter Star or North Fork as an exit, it will take several hours to go down and there was numerous cut offs that aren't labeled, and you could get lost like we did. For those who see the cutoff, it's labeled near the Horse Rock X and says it is .6 miles to Winter Star. If you want to use this as a means of exiting the trail head you will need to understand it will take 4+ hours to make it down to the bottom and only than will you be on the paved part. Take it from me who had that being lost feeling as the sun was going down, only to know you were out of water and had no flashlights.

Also, I will go ahead and tell you the trail is pretty tough. It was 3 friends and myself who are all in pretty good shape, but it's long and doesn't get flat much, so if you are trying to make good time prepare to work hard. The views aren't really that good to the exception of the clearing when you have hiked about 5 miles. If your looking for a great open view of the mountains and good photo opportunities I would find another trail. The good thing is aside from the last view you get, most of the good pictures were taken during the first hour and mile of the trail. I hope this helps and someone is able to avoid what could have been a disastrous night.

One last thing, 3 of my friends had Verizon and I have AT&T. I had service for the first 2-3 hours on the trail but once you get around the 6k elevation mark service is rare for Verizon/AT&T. The dispatcher I talked to that provided me some directions was very surprised I even had service when they pinged my phone for coordinates so make sure your cognizant of that before you start. I hope this helps and happy hiking!

hiking
1 month ago

Really good hike! Parked a car on top at Mt Mitchell the night before then started at Bowlens Creek the next morning. First 4 miles is straight up the mountain with little break. The remaining hike had a good mix of elevation change to keep it honest.

Unfortunately, it was quite foggy along the ridge so we didn't get the fall views we would have liked. Really well marked and easy to follow. Started to see a lot more people the closer to Mt Mitchell we got. Took us 7.5 hours and my watch had us at 11.75 miles.

Worst part was having to drive back to Bowlens creek once we finished :(

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Lots of great reviews here, so just a few added tidbits:

Parking on Watershed Road is a now a definitive no-no, so hiking the entire BMC south-bound requires a drop off.

Verizon reception is excellent northbound from the Horse Rock Meadows all the way to Watershed. Therefore, calling a pickup can easily be done while finishing the final northbound miles on the trail.

The hardest southbound ascents are up Potato Hill from Deep Gap, and up Big Tom from Big Tom Gap - the latter is where the climbing ropes are located. These gaps serve as good launching pads for a favorite candy bar before turning on the jets!

That's about it. If I were to recommend a single trail to any hikers unfamiliar with the southern Appalachians, it might very well be this one.....on most days.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

Did this trail near the end of winter in 3 feet of snow. Easily one of the premier trails in North Carolina. Would highly recommend a winter hike if properly equipped as the views with the leaves down are unreal.

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

Awesome trail for getting to the top of Mt Mitchell. We did it in two days starting at Bowlens Creek (the real way to do it) and it's definitely strenuous. I climbed Mt. Rainier a few weeks ago and did BMC multiple times in preparation for Rainier. Didn't have any problems on Rainier so it's obviously a good training ground for loftier future trips!

backpacking
3 months ago

Started Friday evening about 6:30 from watershed Rd. Hiked about an hour and a half ( bout 2.5-3 miles in) Thankfully, we decided on the second campsite we saw. We learned in the morning there wasn't another campsite for miles. Continued our hike the next morning at 9 am. Got to deep gap around 2:00. Horseshoe meadow was amazing w butterflies galore! Set up hammocks, dropped off packs, and set out to complete the last half of the trail. It was HARD! Took about 3.5 hours to summit Potato Hill, Cattail, Balsam Cone, Big Tom, & Mt. Craig. Got to Mt. Mitchell around 5:15. Filled up on water, went to the bathroom. There is a little store on top w soda and snacks. I wish we would have brought money, it would have been a nice treat! Turned around and made our way back to deep gap at 5:30. Got to camp around 8:30. We needed water so we made our way to the water source by camp. The water is "close" but it is a STEEP climb, so be ready for it! We heard about the bear activity at deep gap, so we blew the bear horn before going to sleep and hung our food. We didn't have any problems. Left at 9:00 am from deep gap and made it to the car at 2:30. Toughest hike we have completed yet, but very rewarding! I'm still having trouble walking 2 days after!

backpacking
3 months ago

Great trail. We went from Mt Mitchell to Deep Gap. VERY tough inclines at times, especially hiking out of Deep Gap. Water is hard to find but available from a spring off the Colbert Ridge trail (Less than 100 yards on left).

I live around 800' elevation so starting and hanging out at 6,600' is noticeable (especially on the inclines). We camped right before Deep Gap at an established site next to the trail. Great site but we did get a visit from a bear at 9:30 the next morning (twice). I had just retrieved our bear bag that was properly hung over 150' away. We were talking full volume and packing up everything when we look up, a black bear was standing less than 10' away. He came in quiet as a mouse. Our trash bag was sitting at the site ready to be packed away and the bear snagged it and ran off. He came back 5-10 mins later but ran off as we were leaving. I did make a report the Rangers. They indicated that there was an older juvenile bear in the Deep Gap area that is getting too close to people. Another report from the same weekend said a bear put its head into a tent (with the guy in it).

Don't forget to check out the old plane crash site about a mile from Mt Mitchell. Its on the left and you can see it from the trail and hike down to it. Please remember its a final resting place for the people on board and do not disturb the site.

3 months ago

Beautiful but you need to start early! It's pretty tough if you want to do it all in one day.

hiking
3 months ago

My husband and I ran into a nice young man at the RX Feet Running store that suggested this hike to us. We always look for the hardest hike to conquer and was elated to have this one pointed out to us by Joe.

We started our hike at Bowlens Creek off of Watershed Road marked PVT. From what I understand most people stay overnight if they go to the summit and then do a return trip the next day. We decided to make it a one day hike there and back that ended up taking us 11 hours and 30 minutes. Total mileage was 24.8 miles. It was a hard hard push but very rewarding! The views were amazing, the terrain was rugged and technical. Most of the rocks were very slippery which caused us to have to be more careful than usual. This is not a hike for beginners!

Thus far, Mount Mitchell via Bowlens Creek is the hardest hike we have completed. Highly recommend this hike to anyone physically fit for it!

hiking
4 months ago

Steep , we had a 4 year old had to carry her on shoulders for most of the 4 miles we did and then had to turn around , still a nice hike but not the hike for seeing out beyond the forest

hiking
4 months ago

Long hike, boring to be honest. Almost all inside the canopy. The only good views were from some powerline cuts and on the summit. The area on top is nice. A little snack bar and picnic areas, with bathrooms. Despite its height the tree line goes all the way to the summit? Not a hard hike, but long.

backpacking
4 months ago

This trail is awesome, difficult to backpack especially if your traveling heavy. The trail is steep, and there are many scrambles that keeps backpackers moving way slower than you would anticipate. Give your self ample time, the trail is well blazed but traveling in failing light is not smart in the least. Amazing views are scattered throughout, but you have to work for all of them. Amazing trail, 5/5, highly recommend, not for the faint of heart.

hiking
4 months ago

I made a shorter hike from the picnic area (see recordings). The forest is wonderful and the view from MtCraig is spectacular, but the trail is hard. It is definitely worth to go until Big Tom, but after the trail is even harder and the view from Balsam Cone is limited. This is where I turned back