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Mount Mitchell State Park

the tallest peak in the Eastern US

In the crest of the Black Mountain Range lies the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States. In the early 1900's logging activity expanded rapidly in this area and citizens began to voice their alarm about the destruction of the forest. Mount Mitchell State Park was established in 1915 by the state legislature as the first state park of North Carolina forever protecting the land and it's natural resources.

This 1,946 acre state park located in the heart of the Blue Ridge is surrounded by rolling ridges and fertile valleys that seem to be forever misty. You'll experience breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you drive along the paved road that leads to the summit parking area at Mount Mitchell State Park. Once there you can choose to visit the 1,385 square-foot museum and exhibits that offer insight about the culture and natural history of Mount Mitchell, stop by the concessions and purchase peach or apple cider and then head down the hiking trail to the Observation Tower. The Mt. Mitchell gift shop, The Balsam Shop, open from 10am to 6pm May through October.


Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Black Mountain range, is named for Dr Elisha Mitchell, a science professor at the University of North Carolina who was the first to measure the height of the Black Mountains in an effort to prove the highest peak At that time it was believed that Gran father Mountain was the highest point in the region. Using barometric pressure readings and mathematical formulas he measured Big Black and calculated it to be the highest peak. The summit was quickly named in his honor. In the 1850's a former student to Mitchell, Thomas Clingman, contested that highest point later was another place, later to be known as Clingman's Dome. A battle was waged to see whose peak was the highest Mitchell's or Clingman's.

Mitchell returned to the Black Mountains to verify and refine his measurements. On June 27, 1857 while hiking across the mountains, Mitchell fell to his death from a 40 foot waterfall. It has since been proved that Mount Mitchell is 6684 feet tall, indeed the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

Things To Do

Set up camp at the backcountry Carolina Hemlocks campground on one of the 9 sites on this family campground. Only tent camping is allowed. Each site has a grill and picnic table.

About a half mile up from the entrance park you'll find the highest elevation restaurant east of the Mississippi. With views this good you'll think you're roylaty. Open May through October.

Have a mile high picnic up near the summit in the picnic area. There are 40 tables with grills and two picnic shelters with stone fireplaces great for large gatherings. This area is open year round.

The trails at Mount Mitchell are there for you to enjoy the nearby alpine woodlands. Taking a walk on the hiking trails will lead you through the forests of the summit where you can explore the diverse flora and fauna the area has to offer. These are our 3 favorite trails located there.

Mount Mitchell Trail This 5.6 miles long strenuous trail leads to the summit of Mount Mitchell to the Black Mountain Campground.

Balsam Trail This .75 mile easy loop trail begins near the observation deck and ends at the parking area.

Deep Gap Trail This 6 miles moderate trail begins at the picnic area, descends down Mount Mitchell and then climbs the peak of Craig through the forest. It offers a great view of Mount Mitchell from Mount Craig.


Mount Mitchell State Park is located in Yancey County, Burnsville, NC. Take NC Route 128 at milepost 355 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, then follow NC Highway 128 all the way to the summit.

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