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Mount Mitchell - Black Mountain Crest Trail #179

 4.9 (30)
Trail Mapped Wrong?


12.1 Miles 19.5 Kilometers


5,010' 1,527 m


-1,498' -457 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (27°)

6,680' 2,036 m


3,083' 940 m



Minor Issues 29 days ago
Muddy - Has been raining for 2 days. Very misty. Muddy and slick rocks. History

Getting forecast...

The highest, most airy ridge traverse in the east and a destination hike not to be taken lightly.

Eric Heistand

Overview [Suggest Changes]

The Black Mountain Range has a small footprint but packs a mighty big punch. If tallest-peak-in-the-east Mount Mitchell is the crowning jewel of the range, then the 11.5 mile Black Mountain Crest Trail is the strand of pearls. Five of the top ten highest peaks in the east adorn this lofty ridge. Do a quick web search and one finds that the Black Mountain Crest Trail always comes with superlatives. Most describe pain and difficulty. Think critically about your water strategy and take lightning storms seriously. The trail is most aesthetically done as a one way, starting at Bowlen's Creek and ending at the summit of Mt. Mitchell.
Features: Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife [Add/Remove]

Need to Know [Suggest Changes]

For the full climbing experience, start at Bowlen's Creek Trailhead. Your destination is the summit of Mt. Mitchell. Stash a car or arrange for a ride from the summit parking area of Mt Mitchell. Locate Bowlen's Creek Trailhead by finding Water Shed Drive (marked "PVT" on the street sign). Unless you have high clearance 4x4, use the two-car pull off on the right not far from the main road. The trailhead and several primitive camping spots are another 300-400 yards up the rough road.

Description [Suggest Changes]

The initial climb from Bowlen's Creek to Celo Knob is the physical crux. Expect a 3000 ft gain with lots of heavy breathing. Your reward after 4 miles of climbing is a beautiful meadow with see-forever views in every direction. For bonus points, you can scramble on a side track to the bushy summit of Celo Knob. Good luck finding the Geological Survey Marker on the summit.

Mile eight is Deep Gap and it is significant for two reasons. First, it is the only legitimate camping spot on the trail. Second, and most importantly, it is the only spot to replenish your water supply. Don't expect a gusher in most seasons. To locate the water spring, take the Colbert Ridge Trail (which intersects the BMC trail at Deep Gap) for a short distance, probably less than 100 meters. A small rock/cave is where the spring is located. Your next water source is the Mount Mitchell Summit, assuming the bathrooms are open.

From Deep Gap, it's onward and upward to Potato Hill. Don't let the lowly name fool you. It's a crusher of a climb. The next four, 6,000+ ft peaks on the ridge start passing more easily. Enjoy the black fir forests filled with weathered stone and leafy ferns. A sense of the ancient abounds here.

An easier trail section and picnic tables are the sure sign that your wilderness hike is almost over. Mt Mitchell and the inevitable tourists who have driven up in their cars await you. Take the short ramp to the summit and try not to gloat.

Flora & Fauna [Suggest Changes]

Black fir forests and black bears.


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Your Check-Ins


May 25, 2018
Chris Kem
Don't take the first four miles lightly, definitely was a reality check for me. That being said, the scenic views made up for it tenfold. 7/7 would…
May 19, 2018
Justin Silver
Apr 25, 2018
Justin Markwat
Apr 11, 2018
Zac Roberts
Mar 18, 2018
Wyatt Toms
Mar 11, 2018
Andrew Weier
Mar 4, 2018
Will Ashburn
Thanks for the firewood bigfoot! 12.1mi
Jan 26, 2018
Shawn Kitts

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 30 votes


  4.9 from 30 votes
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1,196 Views Last Month
17,505 Since Jul 24, 2017
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Highly recommend the hike. If you want to do this as a shuttle and leave your car at the summit, you can reserve a ride with the Yancey County Transportation Authority. They require reservations 48 hours in advance and it only costs about $22 for the service. They were on time and the driver was so lovely! Jul 25, 2017
If you wanted to hike back to Black Mountain Crest Trailhead, where is the closest campsite to the summit of Mt Mitchell? Aug 24, 2017
is the 12.1 miles one way, or if i do out and back? Apr 3, 2018

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