Hiking: Mt. Mitchell: The Highest Peak East of the Mississippi

Last weekend, I decided it was high time I get back out on the trails after nearly two months of working full-time and not doing much else besides meeting new colleagues and spending time with them. And while new friends are all well and good, I needed a bit of a personal breather up in the mountains to properly clear my head and reset. So after looking around at what peaks I haven’t conquered in the Carolina portfolio, I settled on Mt. Mitchell.

Mt. Mitchell has notoriety for being the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, which is quite a feat given the sheer number of vast mountaintops we have on the Blue Ridge Parkway alone, which are all up in the 3000 to 5000 ft. elevation range.

The trail I decided on was one of the more challenging in the area, the Mt. Mitchell Peak Trail, also called simply Mt. Mitchell trail, and begins at the base of the nearby Black Mountain campgrounds (right off the parkway), and proceeds through the valley up to the tip top of the behemoth known as Mitchell. Hikers use the phrases “out and back” and more commonly “round trip” to indicate the full distance of a trail. This trail is labeled as 5.5 miles, “out and back”, meaning that’s the distance to the top. Round trip, which is both to the top and back to your starting point, comes out to 11 miles.

Make no mistake, the 5.5 miles up is literally an incline. It’s relatively gradual (up until the ending portion), but still one of the more challenging hikes I’ve attempted. The long and short of it is, it was a wonderful hike — albeit an aggressive one. It didn’t help that I got stung by 4 ground wasps on my ankles and forearm within the first mile, but the pain sort of fueled the adrenaline to press on.

Either way, here are some sequential shots from my hike that day (I didn’t take any on the trip down since it’s the same trail).


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