Mount Mitchell State ParkThings To Do In The Smoky Mountains
Photo credit NC Division of Parks and Recreation
Home to Mt. Mitchell – Elevation 6,684 feet
Mount Mitchell State Park, located 30 miles northeast of Asheville in Yancey County, is the genesis of North Carolina’s state parks system and a marvel of the Appalachian Mountains. The park is home to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, soaring to an elevation of 6,684 feet. Visitors to the summit can enjoy breathtaking 360° views of the surrounding landscape on a clear day from an observation deck. The park also features a museum, shop, restrooms, and a restaurant (open seasonally), enhancing the visitor experience. Easy trails at the summit, such as the Fraser fir forest trail, and a vast network of challenging trails, including the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, extend into adjacent wilderness areas and lead to backpacking opportunities within Pisgah National Forest.
For adventurers and nature enthusiasts, Mount Mitchell offers a variety of hiking trails that wind through fragrant balsam forests. The Summit Trail Hike from the parking area is a short but steep quarter-mile path leading to the observation deck, offering amazing 360-degree views. The Balsam Nature Trail, a 0.75-mile moderate trail, lets hikers discover the balsam aroma of Fraser firs and passes the highest spring in eastern America. These trails provide opportunities to encounter wildlife and rare plants, with 91 species of birds having been spotted in the park.
In addition to these trails, Mount Mitchell State Park offers more challenging hikes for seasoned hikers. The Old Mitchell Trail, a strenuous 2.2-mile trail each way, was the primary trail for reaching the summit during the late 1800s and early 1900s. For those seeking an even more rigorous hike, the Deep Gap Trail, a moderate to strenuous 2.1-mile round trip, travels from Mount Mitchell to Mount Craig, the second-highest peak east of the Mississippi. These trails, traversing the ridge line of the Black Mountain range, offer a chance to hike above the clouds and immerse oneself in the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.