The beauty of this hike is that it escapes the maddening crowds of Mount Mitchell State Park, yet embraces the 6,000-foot hiking that makes the Black Mountains special. From the trailhead off Colbert Ridge Road/SR 1158, the trail follows its namesake ridge 3.9 miles up to Deep Gap on the Black Mountain Crest. From there, go south and rack up a string of six 6,000-foot peaks in as many miles (for a seventh, go a quarter mile north from Deep Gap for 6,203-foot White Star Mountain). Note: this is some rugged hiking, both in terms of altitude gain and the fact that this trail gets wind battered near the top and can be a challenge to negotiate — and sometimes find. Go prepared.

More info
Mount Mitchell State Park
– USDA Forest Service, Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, 828. 675.4611

Maps: “South Toe River, Mount Mitchell & Big Ivy Trail Maps,” USDA Forest Service.

Map of trailhead and shuttle here.
View 20 Classic NC Hikes: Colbert Ridge-Mount Mitchell in a larger map
black mountains
Location: Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area, Pisgah National Forest

Nearest town: Burnsville

Latitude: N35 45.050

Longitude: W82 13.314

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 8.5 miles

Loop/one-way: One way

Time to complete: 8-12 hours