What to do in Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park, encompassing 1,700 acres, was North Carolina's first state park established in 1915. The park is named after a Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a scientist and professor at the University of North Carolina who attempted to affirm that Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. An interpretive historical marker on the trail to Mount Mitchell observation tower honors him. He is actually buried at the summit which is along the crest of the Black Mountains. Unfortunately, the visitor will observe much defoliation and destruction of the mountain evergreens. To date, three factors have caused the demise; the balsam woolly aphid, acid rain and the deterioration of the ozone. An eerie grave-like atmosphere is the result.

Park Hours: November-February 8 am-6 pm; March and October 8 am - 7 pm; April, May, September 8 am - 8 pm; June-August 8 am - 9 pm. Office hours: 8 am-5 pm Monday through Friday. Gates will remain locked, except in emergency situations, when the park is not in operation. Please plan accordingly. The park is closed Christmas Day.

Recreation
Mount Mitchell does offer a variety of recreation opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. There is plenty of hiking, backpacking (vehicles must be registered before leaving overnight), a picnic area with 40 tables - some with stone fire grills, two picnic shelters with two tables each as well as a fireplace (free unless reserved) and nine single unit campsites on a first-come basis (hot water and showers not available).

There are no water activities at this park.

Guided nature walks, led by park rangers, are available during the summer months. Special requests for group presentations are available through the park office. Environmental Educational Learning Experience (EELE)–Alpine Forests-Grades 4, 5 & 6. Introduces students to the forest types of the Blue Ridge Mountains, focusing on potential causes for forest decline in the mountains, especially at Mt. Mitchell. Major concepts covered include: forest communities, natural and unnatural environmental stresses and stewardship.

A refreshment stand with light snacks is open at the summit parking lot from 10 am to 6 pm from June 1st through Labor Day and on weekends from Labor Day through October 31st. A complete restaurant is open from May 1st through October 31st. The restaurant is open weekdays from 8 am until one hour before the park closes. Mt. Mitchell is the only state park with a restaurant.

Mount Mitchell State Park is about 2 miles north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pisgah National Forest saddles Mount Mitchell State Park. It offers miles of hiking trails, camping opportunities and picnicking.

Location
Mount Mitchell State Park is located approximately 33 miles northeast of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker #355. Take NC 128 north to the park entrance.

Climate
Winter daytime temperatures average below 36 degrees Fahrenheit (below 2 Celsius). Summer daytime temperatures average below 76 degrees Fahrenheit (below 24 Celsius). The state has a fairly wet climate with an average precipitation for this area averaging 44 to 48 inches (112 to 122 centimeters). Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and carry proper gear as the high altitude makes the climate of Mount Mitchell quite cold even in summer. Caution should be taken when traveling in this area. Temperatures can experience wide extremes with unpredictable thunderstorms. Layered clothing and rain gear is advised.

Address
Rt. 5, Box 700
Burnsville, NC 28714

Phone: 828-675-4611

Fax: 828-675-9655

Email: momi@yancey.main.nc.us
  • Mount Mitchell State Park Travel Q&A