Mountain Hike Vacation in North Carolina
Deep Gap Trail – Also known as the Black Mountain Crest Trail (Mount Mitchell State Park)
The Mountain Hiker Rating: 8 out of 10
- Contributor: MGF
- Time required: 2 – 4 hours round trip (dependant on choice of hike)
- Degree of Difficulty: 6 out of 10
- Height: 6,663 feet (2,031 meters) / Actual change in vertical of this trail is approximately 1,600 feet (490m), as the trailhead begins around 6,540 feet (1,990m) and has 5-6 ups-and-downs of around 300 feet (95m) each.
- Distance: 2.5 – 12 miles (4 – 19 km) round trip (dependant on choice of hike)
- Guide Required: No – The trailhead and trail are well marked
Heading north from Asheville North Carolina, we drove just under an hour up the Blue Ridge Parkway and Forest Service Road #128 to the Mount Mitchell State ‘picnic area’ parking lot, where the trailhead for the Deep Gap Trail is located.
From the picnic area, the natural trail flows up and down along this Black Mountain ridge, first reaching the peak of Mount Craig, which at 6,663 feet (2,031 m) above sea level makes it the second highest peak in eastern North America, then followed by Big Tom peak at an elevation of 6,580 feet (2,006m). We went part way to the peak at Balsam Cone [6,596 feet (2,010m)], and the trail actually continues to Cattail peak [6,584 feet (2,007m)], then on to the Deep Gap campground.
After the initial hundred feet of groomed trail, the path became more natural, and followed a fairly straight line through a wooded forest. We encountered a number of large rocky outcrops on our hike of the Deep Gap Trail, and a couple of short steep sections with ropes to assist the hiker, although we didn’t need them as the weather and ground conditions were dry.
As this was just a “tune-up” before our big Mount Mitchell hike the following day, we only hiked the Deep Gap Trail for about 2.5 hours round trip. We’re glad we did, as the views were great… no they were outstanding! We could see the western side of Mount Mitchell State Park as well as the Pisgah National Forest, including Pensecola to the North. The constantly moving cloud cover created a surreal light-dark “camouflage” effect across the mountainsides. This short hike provided phenomenal views of the surrounding landscape and this is what hiking in North Carolina’s Black Mountains is all about!
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