Gibbs Mountain is largely recognized as a meandering ridge culminating in a pair of rocky peaks between Winter Star and Celo Knob. Why this series of high ridges is considered a single peak, I don't know. After having hiked the Black Mountain Crest Trail over the highest mountains in the South, I don't understand why these summits are not named as separate peaks. It seems to me that a number of these points achieve the definition that would accord them named status.
That said, Gibbs Mountain remains the name for this ridge, and it is easily among the most spectacular mountains in the Southestern USA. Steeply sloped on the west, the eastern sides of Gibbs Mountain plummet in the form of very high vertical cliff faces, some of them hundreds of feet high. The Crest Trail meanders along these cliffs and skirts the highest of Gibbs Mountain's ridges, making for some truly spectacular scenery and some genuinely dangerous hiking.
As with Celo Knob, Gibbs Mountain is one of the more isolated and remote peaks in the Black Mountains. Access is by very long climbs over extremely rough terrain, with some trails requiring all four limbs to climb. There are few switchbacks along these trails, which utilise a head-on technique in tackling the ridges and summits. Achieving this summit is definitely not a task for the inexperienced hiker, nor for anyone who is short-winded.
Most people achieve the summit of Gibbs Mountain via the Black Mountain Crest Trail, starting at the Mount Mitchell Picnic Area near the summit of Mount Mitchell on State Road 128 off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, or at the trail's northern terminus on Road 1106.
Other loops are possible on the trail system in the Black Mountains, including the Woody Ridge Trail to the Black Mountain Crest Trail, beginning at the end of Road 1156 on the eastern slopes of the Blacks.
No red tape. It is requested that one does not camp on the ridges or summits. I do not know of this being an enforced rule.
No camping is allowed on the Black Mountain Crest Trail inside the Mount Mitchell State Park--this is enforced by the Park Service.
The only official camping area on the Black Mountain Crest Trail is at Deep Gap.
When To Climb
Keep in mind that extreme winter weather hits these highest of eastern USA's peaks. Sub-zero temperatures and hurricane force winds are not unusual in the depths of winter.
In summer, severe thunderstorms often rake these ridges. Be prepared to see shelter in lower areas if a thunderstorm approaches.
THERE ARE NO RELIABLE WATER SOURCES DIRECTLY ON THE BLACK MOUNTAIN CREST TRAIL. CARRY PLENTY OF WATER IF ATTEMPTING THIS HIKE. THE ONLY RELIABLE WATER SOURCES ARE AT SPRINGS TO THE WEST AND EAST OF DEEP GAP, OR ON BOLENS CREEK FAR BELOW THE SUMMIT OF CELO KNOB.
The only official campsite along the Black Mountain Crest Trail is at Deep Gap. No fees at this back country area.
There are developed and semi-developed campgrounds at:
Commisary Ridge at Mount Mitchell State Park
At Carolina Hemlock Recreation Area
And at Black Mountain Campground.
The best place to get current conditions on weather for the Blacks is at the Mount Mitchell State Park Online Weather Station.
- Mount Mitchell State Park.
The official website for Mount Mitchell State Park.
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