Review of a high-altitude climb to the peak of the highest mountain East of the Mississippi – a not-to-be-missed hiking trail in North Carolina.
Mount Mitchell stands North of Asheville as the highest peak East of the Mississippi River – and offers an amazing hiking experience from its high peak. Standing at 6,684 feet, the mountain grows trees and flora that’s native to the Canadian mountain ridges – full of dark spruces and firs – and gives the sense of hiking in an environment that’s much different than anything our boots have covered in the Southeast US.
And, at that altitude, the hiking in the summer is outstanding – temperatures can average as low as 30 degrees lower than the Asheville area – a treat on a hot summer day. Come prepared – with the constant wind, frequent precipitation, and often – as on the day when we were there – a chilling, fast blowing fog – a weatherproof coat will be welcome even when it’s in the mid-80s in the Asheville area.
Clouds literally roll across the mountain top – visibility can go from miles to 100 feet within minutes as the high winds blow in weather in an instant – as you can see from our photos. But fear not – the unique terrain, beautiful expansive views at the crest, and the unique weather are contribute to making this hike one of our favorites.
Our hike is on the Old Mitchell Trail – a strenuous 4 mile loop from trailhead to the summit and back down again with a total elevation gain of 975 feet on the way up.
The trail climbs up through fallen Frasier Fir stands – up, over and through rocky outcrops and crevices – through fields of blackberry bushes and healthy fir forest – and up to the rocky summit with 360 panoramas on a clear day.
The park is accessible only from the Blue Ridge Parkway; from Asheville, take the Parkway north 30 miles to NC 128. GPS Coordinates: 35.765388,-82.265068
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