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Black Mountain Crest Trail overnight hike – 12.4 miles
October 8, 2021 @ 7:00 am - October 10, 2021 @ 9:00 am
Read Time 2 Minutes
I’ve edited this event to be an overnight hike, approximately 8 miles Saturday to Deep Gap, camp that night, finish up hike Sunday doing approximate 5 miles to Mount Mitchell.
There’s the hard way to ascend Mt. Mitchell, and then there’s the really hard way to ascend Mt. Mitchell. If the challenge of the Mt. Mitchell Trail isn’t enough for you, then tackle the Black Mountain Crest Trail. Oh by the way, you’ll also cross five peaks over 6,000 feet, including the 2nd tallest mountain in the east, Mt. Craig. Lovingly nicknamed the “Death March” by North Carolinians, this hike may be the toughest you’ll encounter in NC for the distance covered. The crest trail may be beautiful and a peakbagger’s dream, but do not underestimate the difficulty of tackling this from the northern trail head at Bowlens Creek.
You’ll begin the hike with a lung-busting ascent of 3,000 feet in 4 miles to the shoulder of Celo Knob. The trail will ease up for 1.5 miles as you get big views from the ridgeline before beginning its rollercoaster journey along the Central Blacks for the last 6 miles. While there aren’t any big climbs on the latter half of the trip, the crest trail plows straight up and down into narrow gaps hundreds of feet below the peaks. The trail is rocky, eroded, and always tricky footing.
Water is scarce throughout this hike. There are only 3 reliable locations to fill up. 1) The switchbacks around mile 3.5 below Celo Knob have springs running over the trail. 2) Springs on trails on either side of Deep Gap. 3) Visitors center on Mt. Mitchell (seasonal only).
This hike as described requires a shuttle between Bolens Creek Rd and Mount Mitchell State Park summit parking area. The most reliable and affordable option is through the Yancey County Transit Authority. They shuttle hikers all over the Black Mountains and nearby areas for a low fee between $15-30.
We will drive up Friday morning and camp at one of the campgrounds near Mt. Mitchell, probably Crabtree Falls Campground, if we get there early enough it’s worth the 30 minute hike down to Crabtree Falls. We will have a shuttle pick us up at the Mt. Mitchell parking lot Saturday morning as early as possible, I’m guessing 8:00 am, and take us to the Bowlins Creek trailhead. We will camp Saturday night after the hike and return home Sunday. Shuttle fee will be $21.60 for 1 -8 people.
Weather is unpredictable in the mountains, bring layer clothing, good energy snacks, water, headlight, and good lightweight shoes. If you google the trail you can find several youtube videos. This hike is not for the faint of heart, you must be physically fit, the first four miles will kick your butt.