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Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the eastern United States. Now you can drive up to the top, but for bragging rights, you need to hike up the mountain from the base at Black Mountain Campground. If not camping at the campground, park just outside the campground at the hiking parking lot and head into the campground along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to the Mount Mitchell Trail. The trails run together most of the way up and is 5.6 miles with about 3600 feet of elevation gain to the top. The climb is long and steady in terms of climbing and is rocky in places. But if you can't or don't want to make the hike, you can drive to the summit.
At the top, there is an observation tower to take you above the trees for great 360° views of the surrounding Black Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains. From May to October, there is a gift shop, concession stand, and restaurant to refuel. And Dr. Mitchell, who first identified Mount Mitchell as the highest peak, is buried here. The trip down, in my opinion, is more grueling and hard on the knees, but should go faster with gravity on your side. And for a bonus, when you reach the bottom of the mountain, turn right on the campground road and go less than a quarter of a mile to another very short trail that leads to Setrock Creek Falls.
Updated May 1, 2012
Address: 2388 State Highway 128, Burnsville, NC 28714
Phone: (828) 675-4611