Mount Mitchell Trail

HARD 198 reviews
#1 of 24 trails in

Mount Mitchell Trail is a 10.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Burnsville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3605 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Mount Mitchell is challenging hike to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River in the Black Mountain range. The trail starts from the Black Mountain Campground off of South Toe River Road, which is north of Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Mount Mitchell parking area or the park office to the trailhead is about 0.3 miles, and there is a fork in the trail, one way being 0.4 miles longer than the other. Take the Mount Mitchell Trail all the way to the summit parking area. From the summit parking area it is a quick 0.1 mile hike on a paved trail to the circular observation deck. Once at the Mount Mitchell summit and observation point, there are spectacular views. On a clear day you can see Grandfather and Table Rock in the distance. There is also there is a little museum, gift shop, snack stand, and restrooms. From the summit you have the option to do the extra 3-mile hike (round-trip) to Mount Craig via the Deep Gap Trail (Black Crest Trail) or return down the mountain from the way you came . Mount Craig is the second highest point in the eastern United States and you could knock off both of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi.

6 minutes ago

definitely a challenging hike with lots of elevation. went in mid January and there was a lot of ice so be prepared to take some time navigating certain sections. view at the top is awesome, but there isn't really anything to see on hike up.

backpacking
1 month ago

We backpacked this trail on Memorial Day weekend, which was a mistake because it was SO CROWDED. Still worth it, though. It was amazing to notice how the foliage changed with the elevation. The top reminded me of hiking in Maine. It was also a great feeling to emerge from the wooded trail in our hiking boots to see how many people had driven to the top. I think we impressed the drivers ;)
I'd love to go back when it's not a holiday weekend. You could do this whole thing in one day, if you get there early. If you're going to backpack (which I'd recommend instead of rushing it in one day), there's perfect camping on Commissary Hill, which is about 2/3 of the way to the top.

trail running
1 month ago

As an east coaster who spent a good amount of time running out west, this is as close as it gets. 5 mile slog with 3k+ of vert. Trail is fairly technical, good amount of leaves covering up the rocks and roots, and plenty of step-ups in the last mile. You can refill bottles at the top during the in season (taps were turned off as of early Dec), though you do pass a few good quality springs on the way. View at the top is well worthwhile!

hiking
1 month ago

Did two weeks ago. Plenty of roots and rocks and a little tougher than I expected. Great views and was lucky not a lot of drive ups so had peak almost to myself.

hiking
1 month ago

Two friends and I did this trail + Mount Craig early November. A solid and fun trail. We had lots of fog driving to and from the mountain but was treated with beautiful fall leave.

backpacking
1 month ago

A moderate hike!

hiking
2 months ago

Long, but enjoyable hike! It took us about 8 hours in total - maybe 4 up (including a quick lunch) and 3 down. View at the top is nice but crowded with people who drove. Still worth it for the bragging rights! We loved the fall colors and ran into some icicles near the top in a beautiful, mossy pine forest. Worth doing once! -- also it is about 12 miles according to signage.

3 months ago

Tunnel through thick bushes/trees most of the way, almost no views until you get to the top, cool hike though

hiking
4 months ago

From parking to trail head is about 0.3 miles, and there is a fork in the trail, one way being 0.4 miles longer than the other, so it could be either 11 or 11.8 miles round trip depending on which way you go at the fork. However, I recommend doing the extra 3-mile hike (round-trip) to Mt. Craig while you're at the top. That way you knock off the two highest peaks east of the Mississippi in one hike. The 14-mile hike was extremely rewarding but at the same time a little lackluster (hence the 4 stars) since the summit of Mt. Michell is accessible by car (Mt. Craig is not. You'd have to park at the summit of Mt. Michell and do the 3-mile round-trip hike). I'd still recommend it since it's the tallest peak east of the Mississippi. The ecology changes a few times throughout the hike which is really neat, and there are a few good vantage points as well. At the top, there is a little museum, gift shop, snack stand, and restrooms. The only reason I'd label this trail as "hard" is because of the distance. The terrain is moderate.

4 months ago

This was a great hike. The incline was tough for me but doable. Used trekking poles for the way up. Made it up in 3:20. Lots of roots and rocks. Good amount of mud and some mini water crossings. Did not use trekking poles on the way down, made it in 2:40. Flush toilets at the start of the trail and at the summit were a nice hiking luxury. Went through 3 liters of water.

I echo everyone's comments- don't do this during or immediately after a rain. The trail itself becomes a stream and everything gets washed out and slippery. Some of the rocks were slick even with no rain for a few days.

4 months ago

If you like a trail that provides an excellent workout this is the trail for you. If you have never hiked before then you should probably skip. Trail is majority straight up hill. 3.5 hours up. 2.5 hours down. Drank 2 liters of water going up. 1 liter coming down. Water fountains and bathroom at the summit. The summit reminded me of Disney World. So many tourists huffing and puffing on their little hike. Hahahaha

hiking
5 months ago

This was the longest hike I've done to date and it was brutal! The way out is all super steep. Didn't expect it to be this hard, but it was fun and it gives you a strange sense of accomplishment

hiking
5 months ago

I just hiked this today!! It was amazing!! Not for the faint of heart but totally worth it! BEAutiful scenery. Peaceful and also exciting landscape! Bring really sturdy hiking boots and plenty of snacks and water!! Hike up took us around 4.5 hours! I'm ready to hike this trail again!

5 months ago

Good hike straight up the mountain. only a handful of people on the trail. Lost a bit of the excitement once I reached the summit and there were hordes of tourists crowding the summit. :)

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike! Will be crowded at the top on weekends with drive-ups but quality hike with intense elevation gain

5 months ago

Not a very scenic hike but the view from the overlook is spectacular ( although a bit crowded ). I made it to the top in two hours and forty five minutes. I didn't experience the water some of the previous reviews mentioned but parts of the trail were overgrown with weeds. Definitely recommend bug spray. I enjoyed the hike but it was no comparison to the Profile trail to Grandfather Mountain.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike, truly rewarding. Not for the faint of heart! Most of the hike is either a running stream bed, wet rocks, tree roots, or all three! So you'll need water resistant footwear with the most excellent traction to be most comfortable ;-). I wore Altra Lone Peak boots with polartec which were super water resistant; but my husband's Under Armour boots had better traction on the wet rocks. Neither of us fell, for the record. Starting from the beginning: this trailhead is close to 90 minutes from Asheville. Plan accordingly. Come with plenty of fuel as you'll see no gas stations anywhere near. Also bring as much water, Gatorade ( I prefer Nuun or Tailwind), and snacks as you'll need for what could be a 7-9 hour hike. I suggest starting out in the morning too- it's cooler; plus for us this was over a 6 hour ordeal. Also; when you're moving up the steep inclines you'll warm up quickly so either wear less clothing than you think you'll need or dress in light weight layers you can easily remove and carry. We wore shorts and Tshirts. Carry comfy packs- it's a long strenuous haul. Also- drymax socks. So- the trailhead is located in Black Mountain Campground. Which is about 4ish miles down a GRAVEL UNMARKED ROAD called South Toe River Rd. You'll see NO signs from the main road to tell you where to go. Use the gps directions from this page (it got us there) or use a map to identify your turn. Also turn on your gps early as there is no cell reception anywhere near there. You'll see a big info sign and some parking spots to the right of the campground bathrooms. Park there and then you can either ask someone in the campground office where the trail head is or look for the blue trail signs across from the office. You can either follow the blue trail along the river or stay to the right and follow the gravel rd. You'll save maybe 1/4 mile this way. The blue trail is well marked. Use this app to record your progress in live time; you can see that you're on track etc. Also the Hike app on my Garmin 630 watch was great for recording progress and seeing stats at a glance.You can get it in the Connect App Store. There was one marked fork in the trail I remember a couple miles up; we stayed right and it was more direct. Next thing to note- there is NO RESTAURANT AT THE PEAK. PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY. We were sad. There IS a restaurant at the Mount Mitchell park area; but unless you hike out if your way (I DO NOT recommend adding more miles to THAT hike) you won't get there. The good news; at the peak you'll find a bathroom, concession stand (only pre packaged junk food and beverages. I ate a snickers, oatmeal cream pie, and sun chips. And I didn't feel the least bit bad about it. I would call the Mount Mitchell park office to make sure they are open, though they were open on the 4th of July for us so...), water fountains (you have to hold the button for like 10 seconds), and a concrete walkway to a high peak with photo ops. Also it was super crowded with folks in clean clothes and nice shoes. We however were covered in mud and sweat by this point. We left the campground around 10 am and so it was around 1:30 by then; took us around 3.5 hours to climb. Yes, climb. That includes a handful of seated breaks. Only took us less than 2.5 hours back down. Spent around 25 minutes at the top. Down was more enjoyable. Checked out the amazing mountain vistas and took more pics on the down trip. Oh; there are some cool small waterfalls you'll see. We didn't see any bears :-( I was sad. The rhododendrons were in full bloom which was beautiful. And- we didn't use a walking stick or trekking poles; but I imagine they'd have made the trip easier. And; we got a little chilly resting at the top because it's colder up there and we were sweaty. Check the weather for mount mitchell before you go; it's often cooler than Asheville. Also; bring towels. You'll want them before getting back in your car. The camp ground has showers- non campers have to pay $5 to use them. And bring cash I believe the concession stand at the top was cash only.....Think that sums it up! Be prepared and have fun!

6 months ago

You could have called this switch back trail with roots and slick rocks. It's a challenging hike. Wear Bugspray because you'll have to walk through high grass and the sand fleas/bugs at the top are in full effect. You will start itching within a few minutes of getting to the top platform.

The views are impressive. I needed three hours up, 30 mins at the top, and two hours back to the campground lot. I was moving pretty aggressively. Bring lots of Gatorade, water, and chocolate.

hiking
6 months ago

The trial was in good condition. Not crazy about walking under power lines though. Fairly steep for a large potion of the hike, but it's not a scramble. The view of the top is good but it's built up. You can almost drive to the top so there is a bit of a crowd. I will likely not do it again but it's cool that it's the highest point east of the Mississippi.

Load More