Mount Mitchell Loop

HARD 13 reviews
#7 of 26 trails in

Mount Mitchell Loop is a 5.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Burnsville, North Carolina that offers the chance to see wildlife and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.8 miles
1,309 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips





over grown


Leave Mount Mitchell parking lot and take the Balsam Nature Trail. Turn onto the Mountain To Sea Trail to Commissary Ridge. Turn left unto the Buncombe Horse Trail and follow it along the ridge to the Big Tom Spur sign. At this junction is a perfect camp site and water 150 feet down the hill to your right. Turn left and go up the Big Tom Spur. It's almost straight up 600-800 feet up a rocky creek bed. It's a highly over-grown and lightly used trail. At the top, turn left unto the Crest Trail to summit Big Tom, Mount Craig, and Mount Mitchell. This is a tough trail!

1 month ago

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

3 months ago

We survived.
This is a challenging hike, even for fairly experienced hikers.
The Balsam Nature Path, Mount Mitchell and the Buncombe Horse Trail were both relatively easy. (Or at least I think they would’ve been on a sunny day. We were hiking in the rain, at night, and after several days of rain. - Everything was slippery and muddy and flooded)
Big Tom Spur - this one makes you think it’s as bad as it can get. It’s straight up hill with lots of overgrowth and rocks. It’s just a warmup for the next part!
Black Mountain Crest was incredibly taxing in the rain. Moss covered rocks and deep mud plus inclines - not a great combo! However, it may have been quite fun otherwise! Lots of large rocks to climb and challenging inclines. The views were a bit disappointing in the fog.

A couple of notes - the suggestion for a campsite mentioned in the description is about 4 miles in and not ideal. Our campsite ended up blocking the trail. Perhaps camping at Commissary Ridge would be better?

Also, the written directions and the direction of the moving dot on the map are opposite!

Best advice - wait for the sun to do this trail!!!

9 months ago

I did this trail today under clear skies and 40-45 degree temperature. It’s a very solid trail and the walkways are well blazed. Plenty of elevation spikes as well as rocky sections going up or down, depending on the direction you go. Once on the Buncombe Horse stretch, there are multiple patches of standing water that haven’t drained so be prepared to hop a little. As far as I saw, these trails don’t seem to be trafficked all that much.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I will not be able to move tomorrow. This one kicked our butts. The descent from the tower trail to balsam and onto the Mitchell trail is beautiful. The Buncombe is blocked by a small tree with many branches that makes for an interesting climb over but the dozen boggy spots are the real challenge. The Gortex boots did their job. Don't attempt without great footwear, you'll need it to do the 587 foot climb in .5 miles from Buncombe up to the Deep Gap Trail, also called Black Mountain Crest Trail on our National Geo trail map. High grass on the trail covers many holes on the Buncombe and the connector trail to Deep Gap Trail. Overall tho there's so much character on this trail I'd do it again, tons of wild flowers, deep shade forest and a beautiful grassy bald with a stunning overlook and no one anywhere near. hiking in July on My Mitchell was a great experience.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

This is a great loop and VERY challenging! The first parts, The Balsam Nature Trail and Mountain To Sea Trail and not very difficult and just a bit rocky and has some roots. The Buncombe Horse Trail turns left at Commissary. It was very overgrown and muddy. Your feet will get wet and there is a lot of water and seepage on this section. You end at the junction of the Buncombe Horse Trail and Big Tom Spur. The Spur is very overgrown and steep. You'll climb through a rocky creek bed cursing your very existence. At the top, if you don't pass out, enjoy the lush green forest before you turn left to the 3 summits.

21 days ago

2 months ago

3 months ago

3 months ago

recorded yet

11 months ago

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017