Mount Mitchell

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in mainland eastern North America. It is located near Burnsville in Yancey County, North Carolina; in the Black Mountain subrange of the Appalachians, about 19 miles (31 km) northeast of Asheville. It is protected by Mount Mitchell State Park and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. Mount Mitchell's elevation is 6,684 feet (2,037 m) above sea level.[1]

Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell, viewed from Mount Craig
Highest point
Elevation6,684 ft (2,037 m) [1]
Prominence6,089 ft (1,856 m) [1]
Isolation1,189 miles (1,914 km)
Coordinates35°45′53″N 82°15′54″W / 35.764839°N 82.2651221°WCoordinates: 35°45′53″N 82°15′54″W / 35.764839°N 82.2651221°W[2]
Mount Mitchell is located in North Carolina
Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell
North Carolina, U.S.
Mount Mitchell is located in the United States
Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell (the United States)
LocationYancey County, North Carolina, United States
Parent rangeAppalachian Mountains
Topo mapUSGS Mount Mitchell
Easiest routeHike


Surveyor's mark embedded in the observation tower notes the elevation of 6684 feet above sea level

The peak is the highest mountain in the United States east of the Mississippi River,[3][4] and the highest in all of eastern North America south of the Arctic Cordillera. The nearest higher peaks are in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the highland foothills of Colorado. The mountain's topographic isolation is calculated from the nearest discernible single higher point: Lone Butte, which is 1,189 miles (1,913 km) away in southwestern Colorado.[5]


The mountain, previously known as Black Dome for its rounded shape, was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who first explored the Black Mountain region in 1835, and determined that the height of the range exceeded by several hundred feet that of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, commonly thought at the time to be the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. Mitchell fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.

A 4.6-mile (7.4 km) road (NC 128) connects the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to a parking lot where a steep paved 980-foot (300 m) trail leads through a conifer forest to the summit. The 40-foot (12 m) stone observation tower on the summit was torn down in late 2006. A new observation deck was constructed and opened to visitors in January 2009.[6] Also on the summit is the tomb of Dr. Mitchell.

Mount Mitchell was formed during the Precambrian when marine deposits were metamorphosed into gneiss and schist. These metasedimentary rocks were later uplifted during the Alleghenian orogeny.[7] The soils are well drained, dark brown and stony with fine-earth material ranging in texture from sandy clay loam to loam or sandy loam; Burton and Craggey are the most common series around the summit.[8]


Mount Mitchell
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: NOAA[9]

The mountain's summit is coated in a dense stand of Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest, which consists primarily of two evergreen species— the red spruce and the Fraser fir. Most of the mature Fraser firs, however, were killed off by the non-native Balsam woolly adelgid in the latter half of the 20th century. The high elevations also expose plant life to high levels of pollution, including acid precipitation in the form of rain, snow, and fog. These acids damage the red spruce trees in part by releasing natural metals from the soil like aluminum, and by leaching important minerals. To what extent this pollution harms the high-altitude ecosystem is debatable.[10]

While the mountain is still mostly lush and green in the summer, many dead Fraser fir trunks can be seen due to these serious problems. Repairing the damage is a difficult issue, as the pollutants are often carried in from long distances. Sources can be local or hundreds of miles or kilometers away, requiring cooperation from as far away as the Midwest.

Wildflowers are abundant all summer long. Young fir and spruce trees do well in the subalpine climate, and their pine cones feed the birds along with wild blueberry and blackberry shrubs.

The second highest point in eastern North America, Mount Craig at 6,647 feet (2,026 m), is roughly a mile to the north of Mount Mitchell.


Mount Mitchell Fall Foliage
Mount Mitchell Fall Foliage.

The summit area of Mount Mitchell is marked by a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) bordering extremely close to a subalpine climate (köppen climate classification Dfc), with mild summers and long, moderately cold winters, being more similar to southeastern Canada than the southeastern U.S.. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 25.2 °F (−3.8 °C) in January to 59.1 °F (15.1 °C) in July. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the state occurred there on January 21, 1985 when it fell to −34 °F (−37 °C), during a severe cold spell that brought freezing temperatures as far south as Miami. It is also the coldest average reporting station in the state at 43.8 °F (6.6 °C) (based on data collected from 1971 to 2000) which is well below any other station.[11] Unlike the lower elevations in the surrounding regions, heavy snows often fall from December to March, with 50 inches (127 cm) accumulating in the Great Blizzard of 1993 and 66 inches (168 cm) in the January 2016 blizzard.[12][11] Snow flurries have been reported on the summit even in the summer months of June, July, and August. Due to the high elevation, precipitation is heavy and reliable year-round, averaging 74.7 inches (1,900 mm) for the year, with no month receiving less than 5 in (127 mm) of average precipitation. The summit is often windy, with recorded gusts of up to 178 mph (286 km/h).[13]


Mount Mitchell sign, North Carolina

Sign atop Mt. Mitchell

Mount Mitchell; View From the Top

Mount Mitchell; View From the Top.

Mount Mitchell from Blue Ridge Parkway

Mount Gibbes, Clingman's Peak, and Potato Knob from the southwest on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Black Mountain Range Panorama

Black Mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mount Mitchell Forest Floor

Forest floor high on Mount Mitchell

Spruce-Fir Forest on Mount Mitchell

Example of the spruce-fir forest near the top of Mount Mitchell

360-degree panorama from the summit of Mount Mitchell
360-degree panorama from the summit of Mount Mitchell

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Mount Mitchell, North Carolina". Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  2. ^ "Mount Mitchell". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  3. ^ Davis, Donald E.; Colten, Craig E.; Nelson, Megan Kate; Saikku, Mikko; Allen, Barbara L. (2006). Southern United States: An Environmental History. ABC-CLIO. p. 261. ISBN 9781851097807. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Mount Mitchell State Park | NC State Parks". State of North Carolina. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Topographic isolation". 3 February 2019 – via Wikipedia.
  6. ^ "Mount Mitchell State Park". North Carolina State Parks. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  7. ^ Timothy Silver (2003). Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains: An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-5423-5.
  8. ^ SoilWeb, University of California-Davis California Soil Resource Lab, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Accessed: 11 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  10. ^ Steve Nash, Blue Ridge 2020: An Owner's Manual (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), pp. 25-28, 61-63.
  11. ^ a b "Extreme Weather Records". State Climate Office of North Carolina. Archived from the original on 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
  12. ^ Dale Neal, "Mount Mitchell Digs Out From Record 66 Inches of Snow," USA Today, 25 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Mount Mitchell Webcam Activated" (PDF). The Steward. North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. August 2003. p. 3. Retrieved 2010-01-06.

External links

Black Balsam Knob

Black Balsam Knob, also known as Black Balsam Bald, is in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, North Carolina, near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the second highest mountain in the Great Balsam Mountains. The Great Balsams are within the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains. It is the 23rd highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6000 feet.The top of the mountain is a grassy bald that affords a panoramic view. The origin of grassy balds in southern Haywood county is a result of extensive clear-cut logging and locomotive fires in 1925 and 1942. These fires burned deep down into the mineral-rich topsoil slowing reforestation or stopping it altogether. Examples of this can also be found on many of its neighboring peaks and ridges. These features contribute to the area's popularity, but foot traffic also causes some ecological damage to the ecosystem. The Art Loeb Trail follows the grassy ridge of Black Balsam Knob.

Visible peaks from Black Balsam Knob include:

Shining Rock in the Shining Rock Wilderness (3 miles northeast)

Looking Glass Rock (5 miles southeast)

Cold Mountain (6 miles north)

Mount Pisgah (9.5 miles northeast)

Mount Mitchell. On exceptionally clear days, Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the Eastern United States, is visible 45 miles north east.

Black Mountains (North Carolina)

The Black Mountains are a mountain range in western North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. They are part of the Blue Ridge Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Blacks are the highest mountains in the Eastern United States. The range takes its name from the dark appearance of the red spruce and Fraser fir trees that form a spruce-fir forest on the upper slopes which contrasts with the brown (during winter) or lighter green (during the growing season) appearance of the deciduous trees at lower elevations. The Eastern Continental Divide, which runs along the eastern Blue Ridge crest, intersects the southern tip of the Black Mountain range.

The Black Mountains are home to Mount Mitchell State Park, which protects the range's highest summit and adjacent summits in the north-central section of the range. Much of the range is also protected by the Pisgah National Forest. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes along the range's southern section, and is connected to the summit of Mount Mitchell by North Carolina Highway 128. The Black Mountains are mostly located in Yancey County, although the range's southern and western extremes are part of Buncombe County.

Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, and extends 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsylvania through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. To the west of the Blue Ridge, between it and the bulk of the Appalachians, lies the Great Appalachian Valley, bordered on the west by the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian range.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are noted for having a bluish color when seen from a distance. Trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.Within the Blue Ridge province are two major national parks – the Shenandoah National Park in the northern section, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the southern section – and eight national forests including George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Cherokee National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest. The Blue Ridge also contains the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile (755 km) long scenic highway that connects the two parks and is located along the ridge crest-lines with the Appalachian Trail.

Celo Knob

Celo Knob is the northernmost major peak in the Black Mountains of western North Carolina. It is located just north of Mount Mitchell State Park in the Pisgah National Forest. It is the first peak encountered while hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail from Bowlens Creek. The trail passes to the southwest of the summit, which can be reached by various herd paths.

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome (or Clingman's Dome) is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of 6,643 feet (2,025 m), it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the 2,174-mile (3,499 km) Appalachian Trail. It is also the third highest point in mainland Eastern North America, after the nearby Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet or 2,037 metres) and Mount Craig (6,647 feet or 2,026 metres).

Cunninghams Gap

Cunninghams Gap is a pass over the Great Dividing Range between the Darling Downs and the Fassifern Valley in Queensland, Australia. The Gap is the major route over the Main Range along the Great Dividing Range, between Warwick and Brisbane. The Cunningham Highway was built to provide road transport between the two regions.

It is situated in Main Range National Park, between the peaks of Mount Cordeaux and Mount Mitchell. On a clear day the pass forms a distinct break in Main Range's profile as seen from Brisbane. It is located in Tregony in the Southern Downs Region immediately beside the boundary to Tarome in the Scenic Rim Region local government area.

The highway itself is a scenic drive although steep with an 8-degree grade on the descent.

Elisha Mitchell

Elisha Mitchell (August 19, 1793 – June 27, 1857) was an American educator, geologist and Presbyterian minister. His geological studies led to the identification of North Carolina's Mount Mitchell as the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

Great Craggy Mountains

The Great Craggy Mountains, commonly called the Craggies, are a mountain range in western North Carolina, United States. They are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains and encompass an area of approx. 194 sq mi (503 km²). They are situated in Buncombe County, North Carolina, 14 miles northeast of Asheville. The Black Mountains lie to the northeast, across the upper Cane River valley.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the crest for most of the way between Asheville and Mount Mitchell. Craggy Gardens, an area of 16 km, is covered with purple Catawba rhododendrons in mid-June. The parkway through the area was closed from late 2012 through early 2013 due to subsidence caused by heavy rains, and had to be closed again during summer 2013 due to a reoccurrence of the same issues. Access to Mount Mitchell was only from the north or via detour from the south.

Mount Craig (North Carolina)

Mount Craig, 6,647 feet (2,026 m), is the second highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and second only to 6,684 feet (2,037 m) Mount Mitchell in eastern North America. It is located in the Black Mountains in Yancey County, North Carolina. The mountain lies about a mile (2 km) north of Mount Mitchell and is within Mount Mitchell State Park and the Pisgah National Forest.

Mount Craig was named in honor of Locke Craig, the governor of North Carolina from 1913 to 1917 responsible for establishing Mount Mitchell State Park in 1915 as the state's first, thereby protecting the area from excessive logging.

Mount Mitchell (Queensland)

Mount Mitchell (Aboriginal: Cooyinnirra), is a twin-peaked volcanic mountain with an elevation above sea level of 1,168 metres (3,832 ft), located in the Main Range, is about 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and immediately south of Cunninghams Gap.

Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park is a 1,996-acre (8.08 km2) North Carolina state park in Yancey County, North Carolina in the United States. Established in 1915 by the state legislature, it became the first state park of North Carolina. By doing so, it also established the North Carolina State Parks System within the same bill.

Located at the end of NC 128 off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Burnsville, North Carolina, it includes the peak of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. From the parking lot, a steep paved path leads visitors to the summit and a raised observation platform with 360 degree views. The grave of Elisha Mitchell, the professor who first noted the mountain's height, is located at the base of the observation platform. The old observation tower was torn down in early October 2006. The trail leading to the summit has been paved, and a new observation platform was constructed and opened to the public in January 2009.

An exhibit hall is open seasonally at the summit with information about the mountain's natural, cultural and historical heritage. The park operates a restaurant and a small tent camping sites seasonally. The buildings were built in the 1950s and renovation is planned. Most visitors come between May and November because the only access is the Blue Ridge Parkway but Kevin Bischof, who became superintendent late in 2018, hopes to change that. The park is staffed year-round but most people would not be able to reach the park during the worst weather conditions.The park had 398,000 visitors in 2017.In addition to Mount Mitchell itself, the park encompasses several other peaks which top out at over 6000' in elevation, including Mount Hallback, Mount Craig (just 52 feet (16 m) shy of Mount Mitchell in elevation and the second highest peak east of the Mississippi River), Big Tom and Balsam Cone. Trails lead to all these summits save Mount Hallback, and their exploration takes visitors away from the crowds on Mount Mitchell but to places similarly spectacular. About 8 miles (13 km) of trails exist within the park in all.

Another popular destination reachable by trail within the park is Camp Alice, at an elevation of 5800' south of the summit of Mount Mitchell. This historic site is the location of a logging and, later, Civilian Conservation Corps tourist camp at the terminus of the old Mount Mitchell toll road. Lower Creek flows across the main trail at this point and it is one of the highest elevation perennial streams in the Appalachians, flowing through the Spruce-Fir forest. Openings here in the forest surrounded by evergreens resemble such openings near treeline in higher mountain ranges.

The park also serves as the finish line for The Assault on Mount Mitchell and the midpoint for the Mount Mitchell Challenge ultramarathon.

Mount Mitchill

Mount Mitchill in Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States, at 266 feet (81 meters), is the highest headland of the United States east coast south of Maine. It has a panoramic view of Raritan Bay, New York City and Sandy Hook and is near the Twin Lights Lighthouse in Highlands. It is the location of the Monmouth County 9-11 Memorial. It was named after Samuel Latham Mitchill, who determined the height of the hill.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (MST) is a long-distance trail for hiking and backpacking, that traverses North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The trail's western endpoint is at Clingman's Dome, where it connects to the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its eastern endpoint is in Jockey's Ridge State Park on the tallest sand dune on the east coast. The trail is envisioned as a scenic backbone of an interconnected trail system spanning the state. As such, the trail's route attempts to connect as many trail systems and natural scenic areas as practicable. A little over half of the trail is complete in multiple segments across the state.

The Mountains-to-Sea State Park Trail was made an official land-based unit of the state park system by the General Assembly on August 2, 2000. Since that time, the State Trail unit has grown to encompass 691 acres (280 ha) in three tracts and 87 acres (35 ha) in conservation easements. Each of these tracts is leased to local governments for management as nature parks, under the guidance of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation (NCDPR). The vast majority of the foot trail is located on lands not directly managed as part of a state park unit.

The trail is a part of the North Carolina State Trails Program which is a section of NCDPR, and as of January 2011, 530 miles (853 km) of trail has been designated as a part of the MST by NCDPR.

The segments of MST along the Blue Ridge Parkway were designated as National Recreation Trail in 2005.

The MST has the distinction of being the highest elevation long-distance trail in the eastern United States as it crosses Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m).

NOAAS Mount Mitchell (S 222)

NOAAS Mount Mitchell (S 222) was an American survey vessel in commission in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1970 to 1995. Prior to her NOAA career, she was in commission in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as USC&GS Mount Mitchell (MSS 22) from 1968 to 1970. In 2003, she returned to service as the private research ship R/V Mt. Mitchell.

Sara River

Sara River, a perennial stream that is part of the Clarence River catchment, is located in the New England and Northern Tablelands districts of New South Wales, Australia.

Stanwell Park, New South Wales

Stanwell Park is a picturesque coastal village and northern suburb of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. It is the northernmost point of the Illawarra coastal strip and lies south of Sydney's Royal National Park. It is situated in a small valley between Bald Hill to the north, Stanwell Tops to the west and Mount Mitchell to the south. It has two lagoons from the village's two creeks, Stanwell and Hargrave Creeks and a beach running between headlands. Like other towns in the region the village is known colloquially known as TFOE, this is an acronym for the postcode (2508).


WNCW (88.7 FM) is a non-commercial public radio station licensed to serve Spindale, North Carolina. Owned by Isothermal Community College, the station broadcasts a varied format including folk, blues, jazz, reggae, Celtic, world, rock, bluegrass, indie, and news.

The station's broadcast area covers most of western North Carolina from a tower on Clingman's Peak near Mount Mitchell. The tower's elevation is 6,634 feet (2,022 m) above sea level. WNCW programming is also available on WSIF, Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and on four translators. WNCW has at least secondary coverage in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia.

The station has a recording facility, Studio B, where a range of musical artists perform and are interviewed for the station's regular live programs. Selected recordings are compiled into annual "Crowd Around The Mic" albums which are only available to people who pledge support to the station, while some video recordings of the sessions are posted on YouTube.

Yancey County, North Carolina

Yancey County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,818. Its county seat is Burnsville.This land was inhabited by the Cherokee prior to European settlement, as was much of the rest of the Southern Appalachian region.

Metric conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Climate data for Mount Mitchell (1981–2010 normals, records 1980-present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
Average high °F (°C) 33.4
Average low °F (°C) 17.0
Record low °F (°C) −34
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.54
Average snowfall inches (cm) 21.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.4 11.9 13.5 12.1 13.9 14.9 16.0 15.4 11.4 10.1 10.7 12.8 156.0
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.6 6.2 4.1 3.1 0.3 0 0 0 0 0.4 2.0 4.9 27.5
Source: NOAA[9]
Highest natural points of U.S. states and selected additional areas
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Blue Ridge Mountains
Sauratown Mountains
Uwharrie Mountains


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