Explore the most popular forest trails near Burnsville with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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

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.

Great hike! I found Plenty of water on the trail(or a short distance off the trail). I started at bowlers creek which I found to be decent sized with pools big enough for a quick dip about waist deep. The only down fall is the amount of hikers and tourist you encounter as you get closer to MT Mitchell. I’d love to do it again in the winter possibly.

One of the best backpacking trips I’ve done. We chose the campsite on the top of Big Hump, and although it got super windy at one point and we were clouded in most of the time that night, we woke up in the morning to clear skies and a spectacular view of the mountains in every direction, and it was so worth the trek up there.

My first time backpacking with my ASU class and had a great experience! And the sunset from the top of the little hump was so beautiful!

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!

6 days ago

We hiked this on a cloudy day, so the top out at the summit was disappointing. However the hike is nice enough. Too many 4 and 5 stars for this, though, I think. Also, it is not easy, I would say moderate to strenuous - the last mile is straight up Mitchell, over lots of boulders and roots, it's basically a stairclimber through a beautiful cedar and spruce forest. The Commissary is 1.2, then camp Alice and Mitchell portions are about 1.1 to 1.4 to the summit, and is very strenuous. It's an OK hike. Better than Mt Pisgah trail for sure. There are lots of pretty wildflowers. If it is cloudy, it's a 3, if it's clear, it's a 4.5 for the views.

6 days ago

Short loop through high elevation pine forest. Lots of interpretive signs tell about the unusual plants, algae, and fungi that grow up here. Some rocks and roots in the treadway, but far easier than most of the other trails on Mt. Mitchell. Provides a nice, less crowded, alternate route back to the parking lot after you have visited the summit of Mt. Mitchell.

I hiked this in 2 days. Water is available at Deep gap but you have to hunt for it Down an old access road. it makes no sense that the description of this trail on this site says it features a river......Bolens creek is not a river. The biggest feature is the black mountain crest...... the 6, 6000+ft peaks you have to climb.

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).

Great views along this trail.

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.

beautiful, short walk, great for kids

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

Great balds with fantastic views. The most beautiful place I have been so far.

19 days ago

Enjoyed the trail but the map is a little misleading. Reading the route with a CCW loop, only the first 1.8 miles is Commissary. After that the trail difficulty is medium/hard as you hike the Mount Mitchell Trail until it joins the Balsam Nature Trail, right near the summit. You cross the Summit Trail and then are on the Old Mitchell Trail until it meets the Camp Alice Trail. Camp Alice is a .5 mile steep descent along a rocky and rooted trail. It ends at the 1 mile to go point for Commissary as you make your way back to the Commissary trailhead. Commissary itself is a wide gravel trail that is easy to hike. No fee for the trail. Restrooms at the trailhead visitor center. And, only 12 parking spots. There's a restaurant about .2 miles up the road and there's a snack bar at the summit.

Absolutely beautiful! Will repeat again soon.

Busy on a summer Saturday.

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.

20 days ago

Loved the walk thru semi dense woods. Found unexpectedly and didn’t have much time. It was easy, short but still not for everyone. A lot of zig and zags, steps and rocks. Beautiful!

Non stop push, and then there is more if you want to keep going on along the crest. Amazing viewpoint about halfway up. A few small campsites before you reach deep gap. Signs up of recent bear activity at deep gap, I didn't see any. Rocks make it pretty technical toward the top of the ridge. Water source around midway was flowing but cant guarantee in dry conditions. Rhododendrons in bloom, moist conditions had the newts and salamanders active. Got hammered by a heavy downpour about 2.5 miles up, trail was still manageable. Don't expect much better time than about 2 miles an hour at best. Past 5500' you can feel the temps drop. This climb will keep your eyes straight down and heart rate up. Not a beginner trail so come ready.

My first real hike. Beast, grueling, unbelievable views, beautiful trail, and would do it all over again!

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!

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.

28 days ago

My wife and I took our two small dogs along this trail around noon in the summer of 2018. The trail offered a lot of shade in most spots and takes you along the river for the majority of the trail. We saw some small wildlife and some sign of other larger animals. Some parts of the trail had some loose ground, so be cautious in some areas with your footing. We had one small crossing where some backwater had made a mud hole, so if you have kids or small pets, be ready for toweling off at the car. There are fantastic views of the river from the two bridges and there are some small areas where you can wade out into the shallower sections if you can handle the cold water. During the spring and summer be on the lookout for ticks, and most of the trail is tightly bordered with ferns and small dense foliage. Overall it was brisk and relaxing walk with excellent scenery. In my opinion, I would definitely do this walk again in a different season to get some great photos.

Best hike I've ever done in 40 plus years of being alive.
Time this hike around rhododendron and azalea season in mid June and you'll say the same thing. From the start at Carver's Gap, the AT wastes little time in the WOW factor as the trail ascends the incredible Round Bald which is a haven for Catawba Rhodo's and azaleas. After a brief dip at Engine Gap, the AT ascends the smaller ,but equally beautiful Jane Bald. By the time you reach Grassy Ridge Bald your senses will be in overdrive.

After a section through wooded areas, the AT comes near the Overmountain Shelter, which is a must to check out, then a steep ascent Yellow Mountain, and then the grand finale-the awesome ascent up Little Hump and Big Hump mountains. Both are vast balds that have awesome, grand views from the top. The AT, after the Humps, descends the Roans down to Doll Flats through a knee shredder of steep rock steps and rooty surfaces.

It's just an epic hike that we plan on doing every June, and probably October. Wonderful views of Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain and countless other peaks and ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Wow! That was a challenging hike for me to do alone! The beattles at the top are annoying though.

Great hike but challenging both going up and back down.

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.

Rated as most difficult and lived up to ranking.

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