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Mount Mitchell Trail is a 11.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Burnsville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 11.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3,733 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

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.

hiking
1 day ago

Tough hike, but worth it!

hiking
bugs
1 day ago

Overall by these comments and reviews I was scared I couldn’t do it. But overall these comments may be a little negative. This trail is not strenuous it’s just long and a steady climb. Anyone can do it and you don’t have to have hiking poles unless you use them all the time now. When reading these reviews i was scared I’d have to buy some and I’m glad I didn’t. For reference, I’m 28 yrs old and 18 lbs over weight and I try to walk or do Waterrock Knob for exercise. So I’m not in great shape. I’m in the middle of my weight loss and have lost 17 lbs. I decided to make a detailed review since I thought all these reviews tended to be harsh on the trail. It is difficult for North Carolina hikes but compared to Adirondacks-this was easy. I’ve only done 6 hikes in the Adirondacks and they all were harder than this. I went with my two sisters and one of them hikes in Colorado and she kept saying this was not a hard trail. For a hobby hiker like me, I was huffing and puffing but wouldn’t say it was strenuous. Hard because of the duration but anyone can do it :) Here is a detailed review. We started at 11:20am due to some unplanned delays & got down by 6:30? 2.5 miles into it felt pretty good and felt that these reviews were kinda harsh/ I was very scared to do this trail so far so good. 1hr and 40 miin into it. 2.7 miles done. 3.1 miles it for a little a harder. 2hrs since started. 2hrs and 8 minutes. 3.5 miles done. My sisters are ahead of me by half a mile and keep making fun of how slow I am going. (Not cool but trying to Show for context). 1/2 miles to go. 2hrs and 45 mins. 1 mile to go. 5 done. 3hrs. .5 to go. Stopped for a break 3min. 3hrs & 20 minutes. Feeling ready to finish. 3hrs & 32 minutes to top! With no breaks longer than 3 minutes. My goal was 3hrs and 20 because I was so hoping to at least be about average. Sadly too was cloudy with no view I’d almost recommend to anyone to drive to the top, take your pictures and then hike up. It’s the only way to really get a view that doesn’t change. Ate protein bar & banana. 3hrs down! Little slower than I thought it would be. Pretty steady.

2 days ago

Hiked 3/2020 This hike is amazing and well worth it! The sense of accomplishment that accompanies summiting the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi is huge. Cresting the last ridge and seeing all the tourists stare at you with your hiking gear and determined demeanor is awesome. However, this trail should definitely be labeled strenuous and is not for the out-of-shape or faint-of-heart. The trail is almost completely straight up, with only a few spots that are level. Make sure to bring PLENTY of water and the proper gear. The temperature drops significantly at the summit, so pack layers. The trail took me and my buddy about 6 hours total. All in all great experience, 10/10

4 days ago

After finishing this hike I feel very accomplished, and tired! We took our time going up and stopped for several breaks. It ended up taking almost 5 hours to reach the summit. Going down took about 3.5. A few scenic views and one stream crossing about halfway up. This is a beautiful, well marked trail. Hiking poles were a big help on the trip back down. The trail is a constant climb, with a few short level sections. We have hiked steeper trails, but this was the longest continual uphill trail we have done. Give yourself plenty of time and bring water and snacks.

hiking
4 days ago

6.5 hours roundtrip. 3 hours 25 min up, 18 min stoppage at the top and about 3 hours down

hiking
muddy
5 days ago

Took my friend and I about 7 hours to complete, this included a 1 hour break at the top. Trail starts out at a campground. The first 2.5 miles are not very scenic but is super peaceful with lots of forest like greenery. Little pockets of views then pop up for the next few miles, we took a few short breaks on the way up to enjoy some snacks at these pockets. The trail towards the 4th mile started getting pretty muddy but the rocks and roots help with the footing. You can tell when you near the top, the amount of people definitely rises since there are a few campgrounds and a parking lot at the top. I wish the top was a bit less crowded but the views were definitely enjoyable! Going up takes a lot longer than the down since the whole mountain is a progressive up hill until the top. Overall worth it!

hiking
11 days ago

Beautiful trail with a canopy of trees and plants. Be prepared for change of weather at any time! High gusty winds above 5000’ - cool rain as well, no views this time, but worth every step.

muddy
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
17 days ago

Not a recreational trail for novices or enthusiasts. Prepared hikers face an old trail of exposed roots, loose rocks, and an unforgiving incline. 1/3 of this trail was muddy despite dry weather leading up to the hike. That said, it's a beautiful green tunnel, lined with mountain laurel, rhododendron, and galax. The trail was dappled with sunlight and the trickle of water along exposed rock faces was encouraging. Small waterfalls crossed the trail every 2 miles or so. Gorgeous overlooks at the switchbacks leading up to Commissary Hill (flat) and along the ridge leading to the Camp Alice trailhead (the backside (and insanely technical trail) of the Mt Mitchell summit). The last push to the summit (on the Mitchell trail from Commissary Ridge) passes through a foggy, fragrant pine forest on USF land, so you'll have educational signage to signal you're nearing the peak. This meets up with the Balsam Nature Trail, the area you're most likely to run into day hikers who drove up or camped near the old logging site, so I'd be conservative with your face mask here. In the past -and when there has been good weather- the view from the viewing deck is magnificent. However, the deck is currently closed in an effort to control transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic. However you made it to the summit, check out Elisha Mitchell's funeral cairn and plaque. He's located right under the platform, where all the tourists are taking selfies (FYI- you have signal here). A short jaunt down the paved Summit Trail leads to a parking area (you can shuttle down if you call in advance), a museum (closed), a gift shop (closed) and a bathroom (open (watch out for the hand dryers)). I took the Campground spur trail to the Camp Alice trail to meet back up with Commissary to avoid crowds and look for wildlife. I think it added approximately .25 on the easy walk back on Commissary, but I passed the gorgeous campground (on Commissary (Camp Alice Campground is exposed and not so great on bad weather days) ) and got extra views of the mountains since the weather was clearing. Took me 3.5 hours up, 3 hours down, and appx 45 minutes of poking at bears. Humidity was 100%; drink your water!

hiking
muddy
rocky
21 days ago

I enjoyed the trail to the summit of Mount Mitchell. The trailhead is in the black mountain campground, which is where I stayed the night before. There is a parking lot if you aren't camping, but dont be confused by those trailheads, if you want to go to Mount Mitchell you need to cross the bridge and enter the campground and turn left. Not an easy trail, very slippery with a lot of water on the trail (it was raining the day before I hiked and during the hike, so your situation might be different.) Saw very few people along the way which was nice. Made it up and back in a little under 7 hours. I hate to say bad things about the trail, but the truth is I would skip it. There is nothing to see along the way, minus about 3 lookouts which are just where the trees were cleared for power lines, so it's 6 miles of hiking through the woods straight up and then back down. This is petty of me, but it also is less gratifying when you get to the top and there are tons of people who just drove there. It was peaceful, very green, but not something I will be doing again. it definitely doesn't feel like you hiked up a mountain. There was lots of tree cover so even with the rain we weren't getting that wet. Just bring layers including hats and gloves. The top can be much colder than the bottom!

hiking
flooded
muddy
26 days ago

Be ready for a long workout to fairly good views, with potential of serious weather ... also if it is after 11am, it’s probably too late to start and make it up and down before dark. I found the first 3.2 miles strenuous ... from that to Commissary Hill and then beyond, it was definitely quite a solid challenge (with already worn out legs for my 260lb and mediocre exercise shape body). Took 1.75 for the first three miles and 2.75 for the next up ... with lots of stops to catch my breath; going down is six miles of “watch your step” ... I only made one stop going do for water, but it was still 3.5 hours down. Timing is critical here.

recorded Mount Mitchell Trail

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
26 days ago

If you're looking for a challenge, then this trail is worth it, otherwise it's not. If you want to see the view, it would be better to just drive to the observation deck and park there. I definitely do not want to do this trail again. It was not peaceful when I finally got to the top and there were quite a bit of people at the observation deck. most of those people did not hike the strenuous trail and took the easy way out. There were some muddy and wet spots on the trail. It didn't get in the way of me crossing. It would be helpful to make sure if there was rain before you start your hike. when you start at the trailhead, there is a fork. The one going towards the left has steps. There are more steps when you get closer to the top. It is a hard trail, at least 12 mi. After the first three miles, there are more rocks and roots on the trail. In the last two and a half mile stretch to the top, there are some bigger rocks that cover the trail, which can be dangerous when it's wet. The trail was easy to follow, thanks to the tree markers. I started at 7:00 a.m. and it was mostly shady the first three miles. As hours past and going down the trail, it was less shady. In the last three miles going up, there were intermittent open sunny areas. It was annoying there were so many spider webs that got in my face as well as a lot of bugs in the first three miles. Having trekker poles was helpful throughout the hike. overall, the hike took about 7 and 1/2 hours total, including multiple quick 1-minute breaks, and a 20-minute break at the top. For the first half of the hike going up, at a slow pace, It took me almost four and a half hours. Going back down at a faster pace, it took almost 3 hours. I didn't check in the beginning but at the end of the hike, only one of the bathrooms located right before the trail head starts was open.

1 month ago

This trail is definitley strenuous for the average hiker. I hiked it last weekend at 20 weeks pregnant and my leg mucles took a severe beating from the steep inclines on the way up and drop-offs on the way down. The views at the top are underwhelming, in my opinion. The hike itself was difficult to enjoy because I could not take in the scenery for fear of falling over constant rocks or roots. It was exhausting to constantly have to watch my footing. The trail is also longer than advertised as my GPS watch clocked two extra miles from the start of the trail head. Overall, it is a killer workout if that is what you are going for. Otherwise, there are much prettier and enjoyable trails elsewhere.

1 month ago

Solid trail filled with rocks and roots, pretty steep but fun. Views are just okay, but the challenge is worth it.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Hiked this trail on May 24th, it is a long and tiring hike with a lot of rocks and roots. Not too many people on the trail considering it was memorial day weekend. I did appreciate my hiking poles coming down. Beautiful sunny day to start But had thunderstorms all afternoon and the trail became a creek most of the way down. Luckily I was prepared with my waterproof gear but I came across other hikers who hadn’t even got a poncho and were very cold and wet.

hiking
flooded
muddy
washed out
1 month ago

There are great views at the top. Otherwise, the trail is flooded and even fully washed out at some points. Also, as said in previous reviews, the trail is rocky and full of roots sticking out from start to finish.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked the trail on Saturday May 16 2020. As in other descriptions, the trail climbs at a steady rate utilizing multiple switchbacks to keep the incline fairly consistent. However, hikers should be aware that the hike is very rocky. The parts of the trail that have limited rocks have roots instead. This can cause havoc with ankles, knees and hips! The signs at the trail head indicate the trail is 12 miles rather than the 11.3 mentioned here; not sure which one is right. Other than those observations the trail was a lot of fun.

hiking
1 month ago

Fun long trail. Not too hard, steady gradual incline, marked great, lots of different landscapes along the way. Nice view at the top and a couple along the way. Hiked in May and still some snow and ice at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Pretty steady incline, no part that is incredibly steep. This is a tiring hike, but definitely not as challenging as I thought. Top views are nice. Although, we hiked early May and it was incredibly cold at the peak!

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail. There was work being done on the parking lot closest to the trailhead (June 2019), so we added 2 miles round trip to the hike. Finding the trail head was a bit confusing walking through the campground, but they were also very kind to give us maps and point us on our way. We started at 8am, reached the summit at 11:30. Took a look around and had lunch and headed back down. Great day hike from Asheville with time to drive back and grab a bite to eat.

hiking
icy
rocky
3 months ago

Great hike. The trial had a point where it wasn’t clear where to go as it blended with the rest of the woods. I went exactly one year ago, the last day of March. It had snowed about two weeks prior to that and there was still some ice and snow near the top.

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