DISTANCE
18.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5,144 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

hiking
6 months ago

The views are worth all the pain! I will start by saying our experience is much different than the other reviews because we completed the 18.1 mile loop in one day. It is possible, but very grueling. For reference, we did this hike on May 3 and it took us 10.5 hours.

We started at the Colbert’s trail head and headed on up to the crest. The first time you get some views is about 2 miles into the hike. Once at the crest, you will have views on either side so it is well worth it!! The trail is well maintained but it’s TOUGH. We were stopping every mile for water breaks.

Make sure you have enough water because the only water you will come across the entire 18 Miles are small streams. The water fountains at Mitchell were not operational, so don’t count on them.

Be very aware of black bears. I would recommend bear spray at a minimum because we did have an encounter with a momma and her cub. She was NOT pleased to see us and charged - just make loud noises the whole time and they should try to avoid you.

It took us 6 hours to hike the 8 miles to the parking lot on Mt Mitchell, and I would do that hike again and again. Going down is not as fun. You use the buncombe horse trail which is flat with not a lot of views. Then the switch backs start and your knees and feet will hate you. (This is also when we ran into the bear so I was ready to get back to our car!)

Overall, this was an awesome hike and very rewarding. I’d recommend it for individuals in good shape with hiking experience. Not for those looking for a leisurely stroll!!! :) My husband and I both agreed we would absolutely camp next time.

On dogs, we brought our lab and she had a blast, but she is very active and we brought LOTS of water for her, so think hard on whether your pup could complete a 10.5 hour walk.