Fall is the best time to explore the Mount Mitchell / Black Mountain Crest, the highest mountain range east of South Dakota’s Black Hills. That’s why we’re heading up for this mid-October visit mid-week. We’ll meet Tuesday afternoon, set up camp at the Briar Bottom Group Campground, and enjoy the fall color and cool, crisp mountain air. Wednesday, we make the 5.5-mile climb up to 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell. And then we’ll hike back. Thursday, we break camp, then drive to the top of Mount Mitchell to hike the Black Mountain Crest Trail. Here’s the trip in a bit more detail:
Tuesday: We’ll arrive around 4 p.m., giving us plenty of time to set up camp, relax, cook dinner. We will provide some treats.
Wednesday: We’ll leave camp at 9 a.m. and pick up the Black Mountain Trail just outside the campground entrance. While we will gain 3,700 vertical feet in 5.5 miles, the trail doesn’t present a killer climb. There are two runs of steep ascent, but they don’t last long. The climbing is steady, however, with little recovery time. It’s also in pretty good shape, with only a couple of rocky sections. We’ll allow about 3 to 3.5 hours for the climb. When we summit, we’ll have lunch, hang out for a bit, then hike back to camp.
Thursday: We'll have a continental breakfast (bagels, bagel toppings, yogurt, fruit, coffee), We break camp and leave by 9 a.m. for the 40-minute drive to Mount Mitchell State Park, where we’ll park and hike out the Black Mountain Crest Trail, the rugged spine of the Black Mountains that includes 6 peaks above 6,000 feet. This is an out-and-back: we will turn around to be back to the trailhead around 3 p.m.
Includes: Camping; eguide for the trip including maps, elevation profiles, a detailed description of the hike; a treat or two; continental breakfast Thursday morning, a planning meetings to go over the special aspects of the hike and what to bring.