Black Mountain Crest Trail

HARD 168 reviews
#1 of 20 trails in

Black Mountain Crest Trail is a 11.3 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Burnsville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 11.3 miles Elevation Gain: 5,147 feet Route Type: Point to Point

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

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. Very limited parking at Bowlens creek if any at all.

hiking
14 hours ago

I just discovered there is private parking available right beside the trail head on Bolens Creek. There’s a small road right next to the trailhead called Stanley’s Trail. A local owner cleared an old homestead and will let you park for $5 on the grassy lot. The trailhead parking is very limited and almost always full and the hike is getting more popular every year. I always hated leaving my car on that narrow paved road - you just can’t get your car all the way off the road. I was always afraid someone will drive by and knock my car into the ditch or I’d park much further away. Anyway, it makes it a lot less worry when tackling this great hike. Enjoy!

hiking
5 days ago

Unbelievable, I’ve hiked all around WNC and have never been on a trail this epic. Go. It’s amazing .

hiking
rocky
20 days ago

Only hiked to top of Celo Knob and stopped for lunch before coming back down. Pretty tough ascent throughout but the last 0.5 miles is the worst. Great views of the Black Mountain Range and west from a small clearing near the top. Saw a turkey and rabbit. Really great hike. Next time, with a little planning, we’ll stash a car at Bowlens Creek and have someone drop us off at Mount Mitchell to get the whole trail.

20 days ago

Best trail I've ever hiked for ruggedness and ridiculous views. Have backpacked overnight from Mitchell to Deep Gap and back, and done the full trail from Burnsville to Mitchell, also overnight ing at Deep Gap.

backpacking
1 month ago

I've hiked this trail twice, my first and last time! We hiked the BMCT as a final practice hike for our upcoming Philmont trek. Although I knew it would be difficult I wasn't prepared for the seemingly endless accent UP of the first 4 miles. However, after stopping for lunch and a quick nap at the top (Celo Knob). I had enough energy to trek on. The views at the top and along the crest were amazing. We camped at Deep Gap for the night and found the natural water springs our Troop had used on previously BMCT hikes had almost dried up. To find water we had to backtrack a bit down a side trail (Colbert Ridge Tr) to find a very small spring that had a trickling flow off the side of a rock face. We collected the water in backpacking pots, filtered it, and added tables. It took almost 2 hrs to collect enough water for our crew of 14. The next day's trek to Mt Mitchell was filled with difficult ups and downs accompanied by spectacular views. I have never been SO glad to finish a hike as I was for this one. To anyone attempting this hike be mindful of the scarcity of water and be very careful if hiking this trail in wet conditions. Our trek was somewhat dry but some of the rocks/boulders were still very slippery and slick. Although at the beginning of this trail review I stated that I would not hike the BMCT again I may give it another try with a lighter pack and a lighter me. Good luck to anyone attempting the BMCT and enjoy.

hiking
1 month ago

A friend of mine and I hiked this trail Thursday, May 16 through Saturday, May 18 in preparation to climb Mount Rainier in June. We started at Bolen's Creek; camped at Deep Gap; went to Mitchell and back to Deep Gap on day two; day three went back to Bolen's Creek. Wonderful trip but it was a butt kicker. Because it was a 'training' hike I was carrying a 72 pound pack and wore the same mountaineering boots I'll be using on Rainier [think ski boots!]. Two things. First - the walk down Colbert Ridge 1/2 mile with a 380' drop/gain to get and filter water was tough after a long day of hiking. Nothing you can do about that except be mentally prepared. Second - while it was fairly easy to project how the hike would go for the day in terms of gains, losses, and mileage - there was no way to project [without using a magnifying glass on the map] ALL the ups and downs between the mountain tops. There was a lot of scrambling to do. To the best of my ability, I tried to keep good stats combining information from my GPS, the map, and my buddies All-Trail app. Here's what we came up with [this is based on going to Mitchell and back]: *26.27 miles [includes two trips for water @ .39miles each way] *8,410' Total 'gross' elevation gain *Averaged 1.35 mph [pretty slow] with 72 pound pack and heavy 5 pound mountaineering boots All the best to those who give this one a whirl! MH

hiking
1 month ago

I’m in decent shape, that being said, it took me 11 hours to finish!! The views were beautiful. I did this trail a couple of months ago.

hiking
1 month ago

Was a very difficult trail, yet beautiful! Do not underestimate the power of this mountain. We got caught in a very intense storm. The oxygen levels are %5 lower than see level.

backpacking
2 months ago

As other reviewers have noted, the first four miles is brutal — especially with a 40lbs pack. (For reference, I am 26 and in good, but not peak, shape.) The views are surely redemptive of this initial pain, however. I found a fantastic camping spot just past Celo Knob. There is a little unmarked trail (~50 yards long) off the main trail that takes you to an opening with an incredible vista looking toward the east. It’s complete with a rock overhang (where folks have made their fires) providing a good windbreak. The wind really picks up at night, so a windbreak is something to look for! I only hiked to Celo Knob and it took me about 4 hours (with breaks). It took me 1hr 45mins to go back the same way.

hiking
2 months ago

Hardest trail I have ever completed! Bring water and food, but don’t load your back too much. Such a beautiful trek and a sense of accomplishment at the end (after some much needed rest). Well marked, even though I got slightly off trail due to having to shimmy over boulders to continue up the trail. At one point, there was a tree in the middle of the trail. That was slightly confusing, but not too bad. In the open field of Deep Gap camping area, there are several signs posted saying there have been recent bear sightings there. I just kept my head down and figured that it wouldn’t scared me if I didn’t see one! Again, the most rewarding trail I have done to date!

2 months ago

Absolutely stunning trail but take lots of water & be in shape. This is a difficult hike across all the peaks with your pack & dog. It was worth it all. Can't wait to do again love love love the views

hiking
3 months ago

challenging

hiking
3 months ago

Buckle up because this one is a doozy! If you go point-to-point, you’re going to hit TEN peaks over 6000+ (three involve social trails/bushwhacking to hit true summit): Celo Knob, Horse Rock, Gibbs Mountain, Winter Star Mountain, Potato Hill, Cattail Peak, Balsam Cone, Big Tom, Mt Craig, and Mt Mitchell (which is technically not part of this but you end in the parking lot and it’s RIGHT there, so you might as well just do it). The initial ascending 4 miles/3000ft is nothing compared to having to slug up that stone staircase into the Mt Mitchell parking lot at the end of the hike. The trail ended up being ~13 miles point-to-point for me and it took ten hours (Bowlens Creek to Mt Mitchell). It was very beautiful. The trail was maintained well (thanks HighPeaks).. the few trees that were across the trail were easy to get across. I definitely recommend doing this trail if you’re able.

3 months ago

Great hike, it’s a toughie though!

backpacking
3 months ago

Got a late start at it but man was it challenging! After the rain it was unbelievably humid, but didnt stop us. Camped out for the night and hit the summit around noon. Spectacular views all the way! Recommend to anyone!

backpacking
5 months ago

Superb uphill hike from Bowlens Creek. Beautiful waterfall scenery at the begining of the hike, midway up you're greeted by a neat flooded mine on the right of the trail, as you ascend the scenery changes from massive trees to smaller evergreens. We hiked in the snow a week ago and it wasn't too hard to navigate. You come out to a spectacular overlook at Celo Knob and continue on the crestoine towards Mt Mitchell from there. The trail is much more narrow on the crest with some rock scrambling here and there (it was very slick and covered in ice when we went) compared to many trails around the area but i personally prefer that on hikes. The winds were blasting over us around 40-50 mph and the Lee side parts of the trail were a relief. This hike is honestly my favorite thus far in the Smokies. Challenging and unique.

hiking
5 months ago

Did a portion of this trail before the rain set in. Looking forward to returning and completing the trail! Beautiful wildlife and views.

hiking
6 months ago

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.

trail running
8 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.

8 months ago

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.

hiking
8 months ago

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.

hiking
9 months ago

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.

9 months ago

great views , Spruce Pines, Awesome hike

hiking
9 months ago

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 !

9 months ago

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

10 months ago

So cool omg!!!!

11 months ago

Great hike! I found Plenty of water on the trail(or a short distance off the trail). I started at bowlers creek which I found to be decent sized with pools big enough for a quick dip about waist deep. The only down fall is the amount of hikers and tourist you encounter as you get closer to MT Mitchell. I’d love to do it again in the winter possibly.

11 months ago

I hiked this in 2 days. Water is available at Deep gap but you have to hunt for it Down an old access road. it makes no sense that the description of this trail on this site says it features a river......Bolens creek is not a river. The biggest feature is the black mountain crest...... the 6, 6000+ft peaks you have to climb.

hiking
11 months ago

My first real hike. Beast, grueling, unbelievable views, beautiful trail, and would do it all over again!

backpacking
Sunday, June 10, 2018

This trail is no joke. We started at bowlens creek carrying our 40lb backpacks. Thought it would be good preparation for our Mt Whitney hike. We are great shape as we have just ran in a half marathon two weeks ago. But it kicked our but. I would not recommend carrying anything other than a day pack on this hike. Make sure you bring plenty of water as we brought 5 liters and could of used more for sure and couldn’t find any water source. Not as many great views as you would expect since most of the hike is under canopy. By far the hardest hike I ever done, specially with the pack. Tool 9 hours to complete.

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