The Appalachian Mountains offer an unlimited number of hiking experiences. For those brave enough to ascend to the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains, then a location near Asheville North Carolina awaits.
Mount Mitchell received its name from Dr. Elisha Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell had measured the height of the mountain in 1835, but in 1857 he was on his way to verify his measurements. At the time the question of whose name the mountain would bear was an issue. Dr. Mitchell and Thomas Clingman were in a debate over who had made the measurements first. The winner of this debate would have been the natural choice to for the name of the mountain. On his way to the mountain, Dr. Mitchell died in a fall. After that, Clingman relinquished his objections to naming the mountain after Mitchell. The place where Dr. Mitchell died is known today as Mitchell Falls. Clingman, though, he would not be forgotten. The the highest point in the Smokies, Clingman’s Dome, was named after him.
The Mount Mitchell state park rises to a height of 1.26 miles above sea level (6,684 feet). The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway provides a scenic approach to the mountain. But dress for both cold and wet weather, because the park’s weather changes quickly. Hikers can face temperatures that drop 10 to 30 degrees compared to lower locations.
Some of the hiking trails are Deer Gap, Balsam, the Mountains to the Sea, and the Mount Mitchell Trails.
The Deer Gap Trail leads from Mount Mitchell to Mount Craig, the second highest peak east of the Mississippi. It is a two-mile round-trip hike through the lush southern forest. At the end is a beautiful view of Mount Mitchell.
The Balsam Trail is a three-quarter mile trek that begins at the observation deck and ends in the parking lot. It is easy for beginning or young hikers.
Anyone wishing for a long, strenuous hiking trail needs to look no further than the Mount Mitchell Trail. This trail is 5.5 miles long and climbs 3,600 feet. It is steep and rough in sections. An alternate trail that intersects Mitchell is the Higgins Bald Trail. It adds another 0.2 mile to the journey. A total hike of 8.8 miles can be achieved by starting at Green Knob.
Be sure to plan your hike well and get maps from the state park.
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