Black Mountain Crest Trail

#2 of 10 trails in Mount Mitchell State Park
Black Mountain Crest Trail is a 10.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Burnsville, NC that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible year-round.

10.9 miles 1758 feet Point to Point
camping hiking forest river views wild flowers wildlife rocky scramble
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The Black Mountain Crest Trail is a point to point trail starting at Bowlens Creek Road and Ending at the Mt Mitchell Summit parking area or vice versa. Some find it easiest to start from the top. The trail follows the Mt Mitchell Ridge for the first 7 miles, traversing the largest collection of 6,000 ft peaks in the Eastern US. From Celo Knob, the trail descends about 3500 feet to Bowlens Creek. A car shuttle or drop off is recommended and parking is available at both the Mt Mitchell and Bowlens Creek trailheads.

Bill Watson
6 days ago

896 Completed290 Reviews

We hiked this trail a week ago in mid-May and the temps were 49 degrees with a wind chill much colder. While overcast, it was dry and the trail did not disappoint. The sun even poked out a few times. Starting from the Summit parking area, we traveled the Deep Gap / Black Mountain Crest trail to Mt. Craig (6,647'), Big Tom (6,581'), Balsam Cone (6,596' - could not find an elevation marker on site), Cattail Peak (6,584') and Potato Hill (6,475'). Lots of ups and downs, a really good workout. A couple of places required some rock scrambling, two places provided ropes (not required). About a 7 mile total out and back and about an aggregate 1,700 ft. elevation gain. Some really spectacular views from the peaks if you stick your head out above the rhododendron canopy. Between Big Tom and Mt. Craig on the west side of the trail we found the wreckage from an airplane - a white and yellow air ambulance - I found an ancient newspaper article on it from 1966 -,4079078&hl=en - not sure it's the same plane. We really enjoyed the hike, only needed about a liter and a half of water, and completed it in 4 and a half hours with all the picture taking, snacking and exploring the plane wreckage. Highly recommend this ridge trail for advanced hikers, and anyone can do the Mt. Mitchell to Mt. Craig 1 mile out and 1 mile back if they can scramble over a couple of rocky areas. Enjoy!

Brian Blake
8 days ago

2 Completed2 Reviews

Used the Colbert Ridge to get here. Fun trail with great views.

Ben M.
18 days ago

A friend and I made this hike in early april a few years ago. We started at Mt. Mitchell and came out on Bowlens Creek. It could be done in a day, but we took our time and stayed overnight. I recommend planning to stay over night because there are so many great overhangs with amazing views. Weather switches from clear to thick fog pretty much every mtn. you walk over. Bring plenty of water, there isnt any good water sources that I noticed until right at the end. I would say calling it difficult is accurate. But anyone who grew up in the Appalachians and spent much time in the woods should be fine. I look forward to making the hike in reverse before to long

Sean Adorno
3 months ago

2 Completed1 Reviews

Robert Sprouse
9 months ago

2 Completed1 Reviews

Started at Bowlens Creek on Friday, ended at Mt. Mitchell on Sunday. Great trail, just bring plenty of water. Very rough but worthy very step.

Stevie T
9 months ago

12 Completed2 Reviews

Ralph Miller
9 months ago

2 Completed2 Reviews

Started at Bowles Creek Trailhead. Hard to find, the terminus is at the end of Water Shed which is marked with a "PVT" on the street sign. Two small parking spots off road but don't pass it as there is no turnaround between there and the end of the road, another 300-400 yards.

First 4 miles are sufficiently challenging but easy to keep moving forward as the peaks promise views and a nice pace across the numerous other mountains on the trail. As with a lot of lower Appalachians, thick canopies heading up and trees all the way up including the peaks which diminish the overall views.

Definitely a trail worth doing. Tackled it on a Friday, and only did 8 of the ~11 miles before daylight concerns had me turn around but didn't see one other hiker.

Verlin Howell
9 months ago

14 Completed3 Reviews

I did the trail from mt mitchell to colberts ridge and down to near Carolina hemlocks campground.
very rocky trail down from deep gap.saw no one 2 miles out.

Kass M
10 months ago

36 Completed9 Reviews

Did the hike from Bowlens Creek up to Mount Mitchell. Very strenuous and not for beginners, obviously. I went during a weekday and didn't see another soul until I was about 3 miles from Mount Mitchell. I had nothing but thick fog for the first half of the hike unfortunately so I didn't get any nice at views but I got my share on the second half. It took me about 7 hours total to complete the hike one way. Mileage was closer to 12 than 10.5.

Chris Roberts
10 months ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

Great views, although very strenuous.

Bear Asher
10 months ago

9 Completed8 Reviews

Some friends and I hiked the trail last week and we agreed it was extremely strenuous. We started from Bolwens Creek and hiked to Mt. Mitchell and back to Bowlens Creek. The trail was much more steep and technical than expected. The elevation gain from Bowlens Creek parking to Celo Knob was especially tough! Overall, the hike is brutal, but the views are breathtaking.

Dianna Daggs
10 months ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

Strenuous and slow,technical but beautiful views.

Tom Mudrak
11 months ago

56 Completed14 Reviews

Started at Bowlens Creek and went up to Mitchell and back. Stayed the night on the north side of Winter Star Mt. Great trail. Incredibly strenuous trail, a couple sections of scrambling, and constant elevation change. Going from creek to summit & back is very rewarding but probably not the best option for everyone. It is just as difficult as advertised but one of the best trails I've done,

David Eck
11 months ago

18 Completed16 Reviews

I did the portion of the trail (mostly) within Mt. Mitchell State Park, beginning at the Mt. Mitchel parking area, lower lot, to Cattail Peak and back. You will summit four peaks over 6500 feet on this six mile out-and-back. Be prepared for continual ups-and-downs with challenging climbs. A few short and especially steep sections have ropes bolted to rock faces. These are absolutely necessary. You are treated to great views of the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains, if the weather is clear. No civilization in sight. I want to come back and do a three-nighter on this trail soon, pushing into the national forest. Did the six miles in 3:15, not including breaks.

Robert Martin
1 year ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

A soft walking trail. Love the green grassy places under foot. A Hobbit's world with green lush texture in all settings. Tunnels to Eden. My only trail in USA compared to New Zealand's wonder-lust wilderness.
Never once wanted to leave. But for old knees.
Maybe. Just maybe, I'll return for a trice.
Great companions. Great food. Gifted solitude.

Mary Young
2 years ago

23 Completed10 Reviews

Intense trail after passing Deep Gap. Hiked during the summer when the blackberry bushes were extra thorny! Ouch! Incredible views, meadows, and wild flowers. Encountered a grouse with cheepers. :)

Christine McVay
2 years ago

2 Completed2 Reviews

This is a really tough trail with amazing views. If you are hiking from Bowlens Creek Road all the way to Mt. Mitchell, I would give it a couple days and camp overnight if you are not an expert trekker. It is not the length that will get you, but the terrain. There are steep, rocky climbs and tough hills that go straight up in places. However, you are rewarded with extraordinary views, awesome wildlife photos and just an overwhelming sense of peace. Hubby packs an REI self inflating mat, since there is no place to camp without a few rocks beneath the tent.

Joshua Brinkerhoff
2 years ago

8 Completed4 Reviews

Googled "hardest trail east of the mississippi" and apparently this one is it. Did a winter hike from bowlens creek to the summit then crossed the ridge back to bowlens creek. So essentially did it twice. Excellent trail. Definitely a knee knocker. Plenty of elevation change to wear you out. Not as many rock scrambles as I expected. Be careful of the weather, sometimes it changes pretty rapidly and getting stuck out there during it becomes quite the adventure. If there is no snow of the ground, be sure to bring plenty of water. Some of the best views you will ever see closer to the east coast. Plenty of solitude later in the colder months.

Tony Mcvay
2 years ago

2 Completed1 Reviews

Great trail, not any more rugged than MS trail from woodland park to 80 on parkway and or tank bark tunnel up towards mt Mitchell.
I had trouble finding trail head, it's on
" private " rd called water shed rd, before cemetery, follow to forest rd entrance.

Ben Harris
3 years ago

8 Completed6 Reviews

Started at Mt Mitchell visit center and went north towards deep gap. Stayed the night on top of winter star mountain, would have liked to have made it to celo's knob but others in the group didn't have enough water for the out and back trip. After a pretty intense thunderstorm through out the night we woke up to good weather and hiked back to the truck. Great out and back trip without going all the way to Bowlens creek. One bad thing though... No water so bring plenty!