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Mount Mitchell State Park

View from Summit
Mount Mitchell is a 1,946-acre state park in Yancey County northeast of Asheville.  It is about 33 miles north of Asheville off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 355 and the closest town is Burnsville to the north.

The Black Mountains, of which Mount Mitchell is a part, were formed more than a billion years ago.  Over time, the erosive forces of wind and water wore down all but the erosion-resistant igneous and metamorphic rocks that make up the peak of Mount Mitchell and nearby mountains.  At 6,684 feet above sea level, Mount Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina and in the eastern United States.  Six of the peaks in the Black Mountains are among the ten highest in the eastern US.  The ridgeline of the Black Mountains is relatively flat and for this reason, they were thought to be a single mountain until the 1850s.  Although higher than surrounding mountains, the length and breadth of the Black Mountains are smaller than nearby ranges, such as the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains.  From the air, the mountains take the form of the letter "J" and run only 15 miles from Yeates Knob to Celo Knob.

Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Black Mountains region followed by European settlers.  In the late 1700s, the French botanist Andre Michaux and the English botanist John Fraser (for whom the Fraser Fir is named) collected plant specimens from the region to return to their respective home countries.  In 1835, Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a science professor from the University of North Carolina, journeyed to the region and estimated the height of Mount Mitchell as 6,476 feet, higher than Grandfather Mountain, which was thought to be the highest peak in North Carolina.  Subsequent visits allowed Dr. Mitchell to refine his estimate to 6,672, only twelve feet different than modern measurements.  In the 1850s, Dr. Mitchell returned for subsequent measurements, but fell to his death.  In honor of his work, the mountain was named for Dr. Mitchell in 1858, and his grave was moved from Asheville to the mountain.  In the early 1900s, logging around the mountain was taking a toll on the landscape and concerned citizens protested the destruction of the mountain landscape.  North Carolina Governor Locke Craig worked to preserve the area and in 1915, a bill passed that established Mount Mitchell as the first state park and created the North Carolina State Park system.  For his conservation efforts, the second highest peak in the Black Mountains, Craig Mountain, was named for the former governor.

Contact Information:

2388 State Highway 128
Burnsville, NC 28714

Phone: (828) 675-4611

Email: mount.mitchell@ncdenr.gov

GPS Coordinates: 35.7528, -82.2737

Directions:

NOTE:  The Blue Ridge Parkway and other roads in the area frequently close during the winter due to snow and ice.  During inclement weather, check with the park before planning a visit.

From Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway, go north to mile marker 355 and turn left onto NC-128, which leads to the park.  From points east, take I-40, take exit 86 to NC-226 to Marion/Shelby.  NC-226 will merge with US-221 and US-70.  Bear left to stay on US-70 and after two miles, turn onto NC-80 north.  Continue on NC-80 for about 16 miles then turn left onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and follow to mile marker 355.  Use the map below to generate customized directions.

Activities:

Hiking:

There are several trails at Mount Mitchell that also cross into the adjacent Pisgah National Forest.  See the Trails Section below for details on individual trails.

Waterfalls:

Setrock Creek Falls:

Setrock Creek Falls, at the base of Mount Mitchell, is technically not in the state park, but in Pisgah National Forest.  However, since it's off the Mount Mitchell Trail, I have included it here.  From the point where the Mount Mitchell trail crosses the campground road, go south about a quarter mile to see a marker for the falls.  Follow the short trail into the woods to the falls.

Setrock Creek Falls

Trails:

Mount Mitchell Trail:

Length: 6 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Blue Hexagons

The Mount Mitchell Trail runs from the base of the mountain at the Black Mountain Campground up to the summit of Mount Mitchell.  It follows the Mountains-to-Sea Trail for most of the way.  It is a steady climb up, gaining about 3500 feet of elevation gain and can be wet and slippery following rain.

Power Lines along Trail

External Links:

NC State Parks website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/momi/main.php

Map:

Mount Mitchell State Park

Photos:


Mount Mitchell State Park


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