Mount Mitchell Trail

HARD 263 reviews
#1 of 25 trails in

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 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
10.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,677 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.

3 hours ago

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

hiking
15 hours 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.

hiking
5 days ago

A 6hr round trip going up the Mt Mitchell trail and down Higgins Bald. I can’t really recommend Higgins Bald as it’s a touch overgrown and the roots here are particularly evil. This is not a “scenic” trail, but the woods are beautiful and peaceful. Being from the Midwest, this hike was epic. To walk out onto the summit after climbing nearly 3700 ft is a feeling I won’t forget soon. It is hard but completely doable. Highly recommend hiking boots with solid ankle support and good traction. I didn’t use trekking poles but they would have made my life a lot easier! It’s definitely a popular hike; I got to the trailhead at 8:30am on a Saturday and the parking lot was already full! Passed a few people going up and even more going back down.

*Be warned that it is very likely the summit will be covered in clouds and fog! A man I met on the top said he’s done this hike 3 times and seen only clouds. It’s still definitely worth doing in my opinion!

hiking
14 days ago

Done this out and back a few times just for the challenge. It’s a tough and long distance with lots of elevation gain. Not many views along the way up but a nice payoff at the top. Your legs will be toast by the end on the hike down.

Cons: Many other beautiful hikes in this area of NC with much less tourism. (Most people drive up for the view).

16 days ago

I just did this over Sunday, Monday and hiked out on Tuesday. I hit some of the side trails and camped at a few of the small camps off to the sides of the trail. I'm only giving it four stars because I'm relatively certain that the trail is slightly longer than advertised, but it was an awesome trail. Side note there is no good camping on the Higgins Bald trail as it is all one big Laurel slick.

hiking
17 days ago

what an amazing hike. extremely hard and no great views till the top but it's amazing watching how the biome changes as you get higher on the mountain. will definitely be back for this trail

20 days ago

This was a hard trail, but definitely not as hard as I expected based on the reviews we read. The views were limited, but to me the solitude and serenity of the forest made up for that. The trail was longer than expected, 12 miles by our All Trails recording. As experienced hikers used to high altitude hiking out West, it was really weird to have a parking lot and lots of people at the summit after emerging from 2.5 hours in the quiet forest. But, for people in average shape, this is totally doable. We would suggest good hiking boots and trekking poles.

hiking
25 days ago

Very challenging hike but worth the experience! Wear some good shoes and be careful for loose rocks! Just started hiking about a month back on the weekends and it took me and a friend about 5 hours round trip for this hike! Minus the time we spent at the top! Granted we’re both in pretty good shape so keep that in mind when planning times! Also carry long sleeves for the top even if your sweating your butt off at the bottom cause it gets chilly!

hiking
27 days ago

Great trail! We stayed at Black Mountain Campground and started there. We were able to stay with other friends at the campground so we left a car at the top and only hiked one way. Starting at the bottom it is a climb the entire way. Including starting from the campground it was just under 7 miles and a little over 3700 ft in elevation gain. I will try this trail again going both ways. A good stopping point is the stream with a small waterfall.

1 month ago

Great hike but challenging both going up and back down.

hiking
1 month ago

Well the stories are true. Hard trail to climb due to roots and rocks. It starts out hard and steep. You have to watch every step too. Beautiful trail and I loved the climb. No real view until the top but power lines areas. I have done a lots of hiking over the years this is a fun but challenging hike. There is not to many flat spots on this trail almost always going up from Black Mountain Campgrounds. At 5.6 miles is doable for the average person.

1 month ago

Rated as most difficult and lived up to ranking.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike is NOT moderate. As active college aged girls, we were led to believe this would be cake. However, we soon learned we’d be put to the test mentally, physically and emotionally. Hangry and dehydrated, the rocks and roots were overwhelming. The only thing worse than the constant uphill battle and switchbacks was the sound of a bird being killed just feet from us. Once at the summit, powder fresh people badgered is to take their photos. We considered hitching a ride back down with a group of motorcyclists but found a “shuttle” service run by a lovely man named Don. Definitely do this hike, but prepare yourself.

hiking
1 month ago

I did this with a buddy of mine on a hot day in April last year. By the time we reached the summit it was 40 degrees and raining. As others mentioned the temperature can vary lot. Definitely recommend the hike though. The views at the top are incredible.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail, I’d definitely do this one again. Low foot traffic. You’ll definitely feel accomplished after tackling this mountain. A couple pieces of advice are to start early because it gets dark earlier than you’d think. Also the temperature variance between the bottom and top of the mountain is pretty big. It would be a good idea to bring layers on this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

My bf and I stayed at Albert's lodge in Burnsville NC, which has a great view of Mt Mitchell. The night before I was definitely intimidated by the mountain, but I conquered it. I was mostly afraid we would run into a bear, so I carried bear spray. I did not see any bear, only a lot of chipmunks and squirrels. We took the Mt Mitchell trail from the black mountain campgrounds. We got there at 7am to be sure we had a parking spot. Almost immediately we were joined by a group of 4 other hikers. The trail consisted of a lot of roots, rocks, man made steps and a ton of switch backs.. I was thankful for the switchbacks because it gave us a chance to catch our breath. We got to the top about 11:40am. So it took us 4 hrs and 40 mins and I usually walk 21 min mile on flat ground.. We climbed 2,759 ft in elevation on this trail. I would definitely recommend bringing plenty of water and a flashlight. I hear on the way down the woods can get pretty dark in the afternoon hours. We had pre-arranged to get a ride down from the Yancey County Shuttle van. They require 48 hours notice I believe. They were there on time, despite there being a bike race finish line at the top impeding traffic. The driver was a very nice man and we are glad we took the ride down, because there were afternoon thunderstorms. They had great bathrooms up at the top but I was disappointed that the gift shop was not open on this Monday (prob cuz of bike race) and is not open on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous views. Easy access to Black Mountain Crest trail if you wanna add a bit on.

hiking
2 months ago

I absolutely loved this trail. The creeks are awesome and the campgrounds along the trail are very nice and allow for a lot of exploring. As someone who is out of shape, it took me 3 hours up and 2 hours down. Definitely is tough on the hamstrings, but amazing hike overall.

trail running
2 months ago

Steep but plenty of fresh water sources to filter. Nice views

2 months ago

I did this just to say I hiked Mount Mitchell. Its a decently physical trip both up and down but not the hardest by any means. Overall the trip was just blah for me. Won’t ever do it again unless someone asks me too.

hiking
2 months ago

My husband, son, our german shepherd and I hiked this Easter day (as a challenge by our 18 yr old!). I'm not going to lie - it was hard! But definitely doable - and oh so rewarding! We did it in a little under 7 hours (4 up and 3 down). I used my trekking poles on the way down to help out my 51 year old knees. The hardest, but most rewarding hike I've done!

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail, plus a great workout. Starting out from Black Mountain campground you begin the uphill battle almost immediately and it doesn't stop until you're at the summit. The views up top are worth every bit of it though. Well earned.

hiking
3 months ago

What a great hike with my brother! We started from Black Mountain Campground around 9:30 and found ourselves up near the summit at Commissary Primitive Campgrounds around 12 or so. Unpacked some heavy gear and was up to the summit by 1:30 or so. Lots of natural springs, several creek crossings. Lots of switchbacks and steps. We certainly had to catch our breath and rest the legs a couple of times! The last half mile is an amazing micro-climate spruce and fraiser fir forest thats blanketed with moss and awesome boulders. It’s a strenuous hike that you follow the well blazed blue diamonds to the top. Keep pushing because it’s worth it at the end! Bring plenty of water and a protein snack because those muscles will be burning for some extra juice and hydration. A couple of springs along the way to top off water and several views on the way up. Like nothing we’ve seen before hiking in NC. Certainly a one of a kind atmosphere/terrain especially near the top.

3 months ago

Our Boy Scout Troop 124 out of Clayton NC hiked this trail this past Thursday afternoon 05-Apr-18 as one of our shakedown / training hikes for our upcoming Philmont NM Trek. It is a very hard trail with a 45lb. pack so be prepared for a very technical and strenuous hike. We camped at Commissary primitive campsite 4 Miles in just 1 Mile from the summit. There is a nice natural spring there to replenish your water. We finished the hike Friday morning on our way to the Black Mountain Crest Trail to Deep Gap and finish our hike on the Colbert Ridge Trail descent to Carolina Hemlock CG.

hiking
3 months ago

My first time to hike the Old Mitchell Trail yesterday. Too technical for me to run, but a beautiful hike at a slower pace. The summit was spectacular

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked this in the snow. Our plan was to hike from the campground, camp below the summit, and summit the next day then back down. We faced snowy conditions which turned to more snow then ice. Near 4,000 feet, we faced an incoming winter storm that had thunder and lightning and heavy ice-rain. There was no sense in trying to camp on Commissary Ridge or anywhere exposed and the ice was a concern for falling trees and limbs. We decided to hike out. This trail is rough in areas and a challenge. Take water. You'll hear your heart beating in your ears because it's a workout, especially with full packs/food/water/winter clothing for 2 days.

Left at 8:45a... 3 hours up, 2 down. Not much traffic up or down. Still some ice the last 1.5 miles to summit; making a slower climb to top. Great views at the top.

hiking
4 months ago

Fun hike. I couldn’t have asked for better weather for doing this in February. Had all my cold weather gear packed and ready just in case but ended up leaving it behind once the forecast was 75 and sunny for the day.

I was able to summit and back in about 4-1/2 hours doing this solo. 3 up, 1.5 down. Lots of rocks and roots so take your time, and plan to take much longer if you’re doing this with kids or anyone who hasn’t done much hiking. It’s definitely do-able as a day hike, but would probably take up a whole day for anyone with kids or not in the best shape. It’s not extremely challenging or dangerous at any points. Just a strenuous 6 miles steady up hill. Trekking poles helped save my knees a lot, I highly recommend busting them out for a steady uphill hike like this. I went through 3 liters of water on this hike and saw a lot of people trying to go out with next to none. Don’t short yourself on the Agua

5 months ago

Great challenging hike, but not too many views until the top... but the views at the top make it all worth it, beautiful! Great workout too. Doing this one in February made the last 2 miles slow and difficult navigating thru the slick ice, but definitely able to figure it out using higher ground next to the trail.

5 months ago

Great hike lots of snow. It took me 5 hours but I got a lot of GoPro footage back tracking. Must do hike

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