Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet above sea level is the highest you can get east of the Black Hills. Of course, at this altitude (above 6,000 feet) the forest is dominated by the evergreen red spruce and Fraser firs. Look not far down the mountain, though, and you’ll see fire cherry, yellow birch, mountain ash and mountain maple lighting up the slopes. A summit of Mount Mitchell proper involves a hike of maybe 75 yards — all on pavement. Earn your color by heading north on the Black Mountain Crest Trail. It runs for 13 miles, but there’s plenty to see, including passage over five 6,000-foot peaks, in the first 4 miles.

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