|Bees on a Wild Purple Celery Flower|
|Restaurant with Mt Mitchell in background.|
From here, I was able to set out on the Old Mitchell Trail heading towards Mount Mitchell, the highest peak on the east coast of America. From the restaurant the Old Mitchell Trail begins rather tamely and by increments becomes more and more sloppy and boulder strewn. There are commonly several foot drops from one boulder to the next along the trail, followed quite directly by or in combination with, large muddy pools directly in the trial. Judging by the summer weather in the North Carolina mountains, I would guess that the Old Mitchell trail is most likely always in this sloppy state. All of the boulders tend to be slippery with mud.
Across the parking lot is the Deep Gap Trail which heads roughly north towards the second highest peak in North Carolina (and the east coast), Mount Craig. This trail is very well maintained with a crushed rock footbed for maybe a quarter mile. The Deep Gap Trail never becomes as bad as the Old Mitchell Trail between Mt Mitchell and Mt Craig, however it does become more wild as it progresses northward. Mt Craig offers some beautiful stony outcroppings at the summit and another of my now addicting finds: USGS summit markers. It really is amazing how fun it is to summit mountains and find those little copper plates in the rock.
Since Mount Mitchell State Park is a state park, camping and fires are only allowed in designated areas. This park contains several of the highest peaks on the east coast, maybe more. A weekend peakbagging trip would be well worth the time. Just be aware of getting overnight parking permits and backcountry camping permits, etc. Enjoy the highest points on the east coast, friends!
Look for Park Hours here.