Mount Mitchell Trail is a 10.4 mile moderately 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, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,677 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

trail 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.

nature trips
6 days ago

Such a great hike during the off season. Lots of wonderful wildlife sounds and fresh air. You’ll love it! Not too strenuous. I’ve climbed much more difficult...It’s a great day hike. Enjoy!

7 days ago

very nice climb, though view is boring.

11 days ago

great trail but make sure you are in decent shape. I made it up the mountain but needed a nap and some snacks. beautiful but challenging

hiking
19 days ago

I went on an overnight trip here a few days ago. Definitely a challenge with a 40 pond pack on due to my camping gear. I lost five pounds of fluids due to sweating. I ran out of water halfway up, and was glad I brought a survival straw. pack more water than u think you will need. Trekking poles, wool socks, and sweaters are your friend. The higher portion of the hike is very much colder than the bottom. The fir Forrest at the top is very quiet and peaceful. a neat cave and some beautiful views await. I used this hike as a training aid for Kilimanjaro trek next year and although an eagle scout, managed to learn a few things on this hike. pole pole indeed on this as well.

1 month ago

This hike is much longer than stated. we clocked almost 14 miles. This is difficult and very strenuous! The view is worth it, but make sure you begin early enough and bring snacks!

1 month ago

If you don’t want to spend all day hiking this trail...you can drive to the summit and enjoy the same views. The hike wasn’t worth it after finding this little tid bit out. Also...almost got mauled by a bear.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this trail November 1st just before cold front came through. 3 things about this trail-rocky , rooty and windy, well marked and maintained.. Need good hiking shoes at a minimum, poles optional, and bring layered clothing with wind breaker , gloves and hat a must as it gets nippy at top . Can be a challenge if not in at least average shape. Plan on 5-8 hours round trip. Well worth doing and you get the pleasure of knocking off the highest peak east of the mighty Mississippi.

hiking
1 month ago

Question: the 10 miles it says it is, is this total? or each way?

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. Relentless climbing over roots and rocks. The summit is freezing cold with winds, fog, drizzle. Reminded me of Clingmans Dome Make sure you bring a jacket to enjoy the summit without freezing to death. The most incredible thing: The hot apple cider available for purchase next to the gift shop, it was like a cup of unicorn tears mixed with liquid gold.

1 month ago

Excellent trail. Took 3 hours and 10 minutes to summit. About 3 even coming down. Some things you should know: there’s no internet access from about 30 min before getting to Black Mountain Campground and no signal. No signal all the way up the mountain. I did find very weak and spotty signal in the museum at the summit. Good enough for a few text messages.
The trail is very, very well marked. Or at least the blue diamond trail is.
Climbed on 10/21. It was at most 50 degrees at the base. Had to be below freezing at the summit. Much colder than expected so be prepared. There was crazy wind at all exposed points so bring a wind proof jacket.
All else: great hike. About as nice as a 7 hour hike could go. (Spent some time warming up at the top). Highly recommend this trail.

2 months ago

I definitely think it is longer than marked, although it is not as difficult as some hikes I’ve done. All in all a magnificent quest, ending with a very cold summit which adds to the wonder. My heeler, 12 year old, 8 year old, and two year old in my pack did it with only minor difficulty on Monday. My only complaint is that we didn’t get the views once at the top due to the weather, but can’t control that. It was more like 7 Miles according to my Garmin.

hiking
2 months ago

The highest peak in the East has been on my list all year. I'm 58 and started hiking alone from the Black Mountain Campground and caught up with two under 30 hikers who I hiked with for the rest of the day. We all enjoyed the hike with stimulating conversation and clear blue skies. Arrived at the summit in 3 hours 25 minutes. Hung out at the top for an hour with some bikers as we ate our lunch. The view on the observation deck was spectacular. Descended the mountain in 3 hours 15 minutes. Switchbacks made the hiking relatively easy. A local warned me the day before to watch out for bears and rattle snakes. Didn't encounter either. Not as difficult as Marcy or Whiteface. Although there are lots of roots, there's no large boulders to climb over, no rock hopping, rock climbing or scrambling. Thoroughly enjoyed the hike. Would do it again next time I'm in the area.

2 months ago

Drove up at 7:00AM to see the summit without all the peoples and so glad we did. Gorgeous views at sunrise. We drove back down to the campground and began our march to the summit. The trail was fairly busy for a Saturday but not too crowded. It was a long, steep walk up the mountain with several flat areas to catch your breath that drops off into a busy parking lot for the viewing tower. I was not able to make the descent as we ran out of time with an inexperienced hiker taking much longer to get up the hill. So this trail is definitely not for the out of shape or casual hiker.

2 months ago

Made the hike from Black Mountain Campground to the summit and back 30 times in the last five years. My favorite time for this hike in in the fall. This was on my bucket list. There are two decent water sources. Expect lots of roots and rocks on much of the trail. Some of the trail uses an old creek bed. Be prepared for aburpt weather changes. The trail is becoming better maintained because of those hard young dedicated workers.

hiking
2 months ago

An easy calming walk up 3,700 feet of elevation climb...jokes aside it is a fun, strenuous walk. The majority is under tree cover, with an occasional stream or brook. But the end is worth it l, with an open summit area.

backpacking
3 months ago

I just came back from this hike. The trail is hard and very well mark. We ended with 12.3 miles instead of 10. So be prepare for few extra miles. It has been in my bucket list for a while and it was way worthy. Also we got to eat blackberries almost at the top. Tons of bushes of blackberries. If you are looking for a challenge and a reward at the top this is the trail for you.

hiking
3 months ago

Mt. Mitchell has been at the top of my list for a while now and I'm glad that I did this trail. It wasn't as difficult as some of the other trails I have done, but you definitely have to watch your footing because of the roots and rocks. It took my friends and I about 3.5 hours to get to the top and then about 2.5 hours to get down and the trail was closer to 12 miles long rather than 10.4. The trail was very well maintained and marked, so you really have to try to get lost. There weren't many scenic looks along the way - I think there was one spot that you could see out of the trees. However, the view at the top was worth all the pain. There were 360 views of all the surrounding mountains and little plaques denoting which mountains were which. It was a little lackluster because a lot of people drive up the mountain and can park about 500 feet away from the summit. By the end, I felt very accomplished, but I also felt it was one of those trails people do just to say that they did it. Just make sure to pack water (there was a fresh water stream along the way as well) and snacks and be ready for an all day hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Challenging but rewarding hike!

hiking
3 months ago

This should not be rated hard. Sure there are rocks and some roots on the trail but it’s not a sidewalk. I consider a hard trail one that requires all fours to go up and over, or at least some scrambles and that’s what I was expecting from these reviews. Didn’t happen. This was a moderate trail with a lot of switch backs that make it long but at no point was it a hard trail. I made it up and back in exactly 4.5 hours and that included all stops and my big 15 minutes at the summit to take in the views. I’ve never done a 10+ mile trail rated hard in that time. Anyway, fun hike with a lot of terrain changes (clay, dirt, sand) the switchbacks were annoying but you could see why they were needed. There was just no other way up the mountain. Tower at the top is kind of cool.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a nice hike! Overall, it wasn't as hard as we thought it would be, but it was definitely challenging. It had rained a lot the night before we hiked and the trail was extremely muddy and wet, with water running down the trail in a stream at some points. I think we could have done it a bit faster if not for that. The trail surface is definitely rocky and rooty, and I would highly highly advise hiking boots. We started at 6:45am, summited at 10:30am, left the top at 11am, and finished around 2pm. It was cloudy at the top with pretty much no views, oh well. More about the journey for this one. We were the first hikers of the day to summit and encountered about 30 people on the way back down, about half of which were backpacking and half of which were day hiking. Other notes: it's definitely longer than 10.4 miles if you start at the parking lot and end at the top of the observation tower. By our estimates/GPSes, over 11 miles. Also, there are a few switchbacks on the trail that you could miss if you weren't paying attention. We encountered a group of people who were lost on a false trail and we almost went down the wrong one once.

hiking
4 months ago

Made an over night loop of this trail and a few others. The Mount Mitchell trail is fine, plenty of water sources, really gradual pace to the top and well traveled. The summit was crowed but pretty much what you would expect if you've seen mountains before. The rest of the trails are where this place shines. Every thousand feet the surrounding radically changed from mossy woods, to pine forests and dense brush. The Pisgah is always rewarding.

hiking
4 months ago

Challenging hike with lots of rocks and roots. Dense forest most of the way and good views at the top if you get a clear day (hit or miss). Was heavily trafficked at the top by people who drove up. For us, it was a do it just to check the box hike but not the most beautiful or rewarding we have done. 3.5 hours up and 2.5 down. Early morning start (7am) meant cool temps throughout but still very humid in July. Cool that it's the highest peak East of the Mississippi.

4 months ago

Be ready for plenty of roots and rock on this trail. There are a few outlooks but the power lines spoil some of the best views.There is a nice creek near the half way point and a few more near the four mile mark. The forestry young men and women are doing a wonderful job on trail maintenance. Having make this hike 30 times I can tell you it can be a challenge but well worth it.

hiking
4 months ago

Well. We had Mount Mitchell on our bucket list for a while and decided to tackle it around New Years 2018. It was a challenge for sure as much of the trail was iced over and we made good use of the spikes on our trekking poles. Several times we had to cut a new path around the ice and we fell and slid couple of times in dramatic fashion, which was nice to add to our story when we shared the tale of our adventure with amazed friends and family. This hike started as a fun adventure because of the road down to the trail head, the beautiful stream, and nicely packed trail at the beginning. The fun soon faded though as the views never changed and those we did enjoy included power lines. Perhaps we are just spoiled hiking snobs! We read reviews that described this hike as technical but didn't appreciate the validity of that until we were on it and realized that this is a hike you do to DO, not to SEE. Your hiking skills will be tested as you navigate roots, ice (in winter), and sometimes vertical climbs. As you approach the summit, there are signs that teach you about the area and you go through some beautiful forested areas. Emerging from the trail onto the tourist sidewalk was humbling. As we struggled to eat our lunch with frozen hands and melt the water in our bottles, we forlornly watched warm travelers return to their cars, knowing what lay ahead of us on the descent. About three miles from the end, we began singing, "this is the trail that does not end...." Seeing the bridge over the stream at the end felt great, and as we climbed into our car and blasted the heater, we agreed it felt good to have a check mark next to Mount Mitchell, we felt awesome for having done it in freezing temps over ice, and that we did not feel the need to do it again. Hot soup, homemade bread, and a thick beer back at the cabin were much appreciated and we enjoy knowing that we did it.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful dense forest scenery is the majority of this hike, a few views along the power lines at different points of the ascent, still pretty in my opinion but no denying the best views aren’t until the summit. Challenging hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Incredible hike. One of the most serene but strenuous hikes I’ve done thus far. If you want something that’s challenging but doable in a FULL day this is it. Took me about 5.5 hours to do the whole thing out and back on the blue diamond trail. I’m young and an avid hiker but still not in the best shape so go for it if you think you can. 4 stars because I absolutely loved the hike up and some of the views on the way up (besides the power lines) but if you are going for the summit view, I recommend passing on this trek. Absolutely not worth going into this over crowded tourist spot where you walk into a parking lot. The decent was more tough in my opinion just because you were so focused on dodging roots and rocks. Overall, do it for the hike, not the view.

hiking
4 months ago

My wife and I are training for a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike and there aren't too many places in the southeast to replicate the elevation change of that hike. For that reason we started at the top of the Mount Mitchell Trail and hiked it from the top down, rather than starting at the Black Mountain Campground as described in the trail summary. This is a genuinely strenuous hike and fairly technical in spots. Rocks and roots require you to keep your eyes on the trail most of the time, especially on the descent. While there are virtually no long range views, the beauty and serenity of the forest through which you are hiking are sufficient to make this an enjoyable experience. The hike back up the mountain is difficult, to say the least, at nearly 4,000 feet gained in about 5.5 miles. We decided to push the pace due to impending darkness and made it back up in the same three hours it took to descend. Next time we will definitely leave earlier and take our time on the ascent. This hike, starting and finishing at the highest spot east of the Mississippi, gave us a great indication of our fitness level for the Grand Canyon hike. We saw numerous younger folks hiking without trekking poles. I highly recommend them for those of us with 60+ year old knees.

4 months ago

30 hikes from Black Mountain Campground and back so far. I would like to thank the forest service workers for their excellent maintain of this trail. The scenery would be much better from the lookout spots if it wasn't for the power lines. You will find at least two decent water sources unless you take the side trail to Higgins Bald where you will find a creek crossing the trail. Be aware that you will go through a area where there is poison oak on both sides of the trail. Wear decent hiking shoes or boots because much of the trail will be roots and rocks.

4 months ago

Standard southeast forest trail to the top. Great views. Go on a clear day.

hiking
4 months ago

Just did an overnight hike on Mt. Mitchell trail a few days ago. We started at the black mountain campground. The weather was gloomy for most of the day but in my opinion perfect because the sun wasn’t beating down on us all day. When we got towards the top it started to clear up and the sun came out. Definitely a difficult hike, but worth every minute and every pain. We stopped at the top for about an hour to take pictures, grab snacks, and check out the gift shop. Was a little bit annoying to see people that drove up there buying memorabilia for a summit they didn’t conquer.... but to each their own I guess. After our break we headed back down to commissary hill to set up camp. Quite a lot of people camp there but there’s plenty of room and a good water source 2 minutes from the area. Unfortunately, it rained all night so we couldn’t set up a fire or hangout outside. Next morning we hiked back down and there’s a river at the end which was so nice to get into a soak my sore feet and cool off for a bit. Anyways a couple lessons learned for me as this was my first overnight hike and first difficult hike. I had plenty of snacks but I wish I would’ve brought sandwiches for the summit, I don’t know why but a sandwich would’ve been so nice. About 30 min into the hike my left knee started to ache with every step, thank god for all the walking sticks people left at the trailhead. I had one the entire way which relieved some pressure but I’m definitely looking into getting some trekking poles for next time. I also will start carrying some icy hot or tiger balm for muscle aches. I was carrying ibuprofen which helped some. I didn’t have hiking shoes, but I wore my military work boots which were just as good as far as grip goes but too heavy. I invested in some salomon pathfinders the day after we got back from the trip. My pack was way too big. I didn’t take the time to look for a good pack that would fit for me, I just bought off of facebook marketplace. Don’t get me wrong, the pack I got is quality, just not right for my size. It treated me well on the trail I just think a smaller pack would have my back feeling a little less strained. All in all, amazing hike. The overnight parking is just before the bridge that leads to the campground. You will lose service going out there so I suggest using a paper map or downloading the map on your phone so you can still use it when offline.

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