Mount Mitchell Trail

HARD 281 reviews
#1 of 26 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.

hiking
1 day ago

Challenging but rewarding hike!

hiking
2 days 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
7 days 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
12 days 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
12 days 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.

18 days 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
19 days 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
21 days 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
22 days 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
25 days 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.

25 days 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.

30 days ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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).

1 month 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
1 month 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

1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

2 months ago

Great hike but challenging both going up and back down.

hiking
2 months 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.

2 months ago

Rated as most difficult and lived up to ranking.

hiking
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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
3 months ago

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

Load More