My family are highpointers who have set out on a mission to hike every high point in the United States. Highpointing is a fun family activity and an excellent way to explore our beautiful country. Our most recent hike was to North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell.
Mt. Mitchel State Park
Not only is Mt. Mitchell the highest point in North Carolina, but also the highest point east of the Mississippi River. At 6,684 feet above sea level expect the weather to be at least 10 degrees cooler while hiking, and it may be raining in the mountains but not on the lower trails. Mount Michell State Park is a 1,946-acre park and forest that is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s located in Burnsville, off the Blue Ridge Parkway. On a clear day, you can also see the Black Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains from the summit. While the park is open year-round, due to weather the observation deck is only open from May to October. Check the weather though as it is foggy in the mountains almost every day, so plan your hiking day and time accordingly.
You have a few different hiking and viewing options, from moderate to advanced. From the top parking area you only have to walk a 1/4 mile paved trail to the 360-degree panoramic observation deck. This is ADA accessible, but the 1/4 mile trail is uphill. If you prefer to hike there are 3 different trails to choose from, the longest is a loop that takes about 4 hours—not counting your time at the observation deck. The observation deck is free and you can camp in one of the 9 seasonal campgrounds for as low as $15 a night. A 2-night minimum and reservations are required for most weekend camping trips. You can also rent a cabin. Black bears are present so you must be mindful of food storage.
North Carolina Fun Facts
Bird watching and identifying other regional wildlife is always fun when highpoint hiking, especially since there are over 90 species of birds in the Blue Ridge Mountains. To improve your view invest in a pair of binoculars. Here are some fun facts we learned about North Carolina in preparation for our trip:
- North Carolina was the 12th state founded in 1789.
- The state capital is Raleigh.
- Charlotte is the largest city.
- The state nickname is the Old North State and the Tar Heel State.
- The state flower is the flowering dogwood, the state bird is the cardinal, and the state tree is the longleaf pine.
- In 1903 the Wright Brothers made the first successful powered flight by man near Kill Devil Hill at Kitty Hawk.
Mount Mitchell State Park is also connected to the Mountain-to-Sea State Trail!