Destination – Mount Mitchell
DESTINATION – Mt. Mitchell
Located in a 1,855-acre North Carolina State Park, Mount Mitchell (elevation 6,684 feet) is the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains and Mississippi River. Located about 35 miles northeast of downtown Asheville, you reach Mount Mitchell via a very scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Parkway, take NC Highway 128 all the way to the summit. From the parking are, walk up a 1/4 paved accessible trail to the observation deck.
Because of the altitude, many of the plants and animals are like those native to alpine environments of Canada. Mt. Mitchell is part of the Black Mountain range, formed more than a billion years ago. Six peaks in the small range are among the ten highest in the eastern United States. Tour the exhibit hall and dine in the restaurant (open May-October). Hike the highest North Carolina hiking trails (see below for more), including Deep Gap Trail to the second highest peak east of the Rockies, Mt. Craig. Tent camping is allowed ($12/day), but showers and hot water are not provided.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT MITCHELL
1. Bring a jacket or an extra layer of clothes. Temperatures are usually 10-30 degrees cooler than Asheville. Weather conditions can change rapidly. Take rain gear along if you are hiking.
2. Eight out of ten days, the summit is covered in clouds and fog. Watch the weather, and try to visit when skies are very clear in Asheville.
3. Allow plenty of driving time to reach Mt Mitchell (at least one hour from Asheville). The entrance is from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the traffic can be slow, especially on the weekends.
4. The park is open year-round, however sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway close during much of the winter between Asheville and Mt. Mitchell.
During most of the winter, the only route is taking the Parkway south from NC Highway 80. Clear winter days can provide the longest views, but the wind and frigid temperatures can be unbearable. The restaurant, exhibit hall and gift shop are open May through October. Call the Park office at 828-675-4611 to check winter road conditions.
Information provided by www.RomanticAsheville.com
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