Mount Craig is the second highest peak in the eastern United States. Located on the crest of the Black Mountains, it is a truly phenomenal eastern peak. Not quite as high as Mount Mitchell, it stands prominently on the spine of the range. The peak has a lot of exposed rock and is home to some very rare and endangered species of plants and animals which exist nowhere else but the lofty elevations of the Blacks.
Getting ThereAccess to Mount Mitchell State Park is from the Blue Ridge Parkway. As of this writing (11-11-2004), the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north of Mitchell is closed due to severe damage from heavy rains. From Asheville, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to mile marker 355 and turn left onto NC 128 which leads up to Mount Mitchell State Park.
As of late April, 2006, the Parkway section north of Mount Mitchell State Park has been repaired and has reopened.
The trailhead to Mount Craig (and most of the other high Black Mountain peaks) is via Deep Gap Trail (aka Black Mountain Crest Trail, aka Forest Service Trail #179.
Red TapeNone. No camping is allowed along the Deep Gap Trail inside the Mount Mitchell State Park. You have to drop out of the park down to Deep Gap to camp. Overnight campers along the trail need only register their vehicles if leaving them inside Mount Mitchell State Park.
The park is often closed during winter due to inclement weather.
When To ClimbAll year. The winter weather is often severe on the highest peaks of the South, so come prepared for extreme snow and icing conditions if hiking in the colder months. The trails are extremely rugged and this area is very isolated. Don't underestimate the Black Mountains.
CampingYes. There is a developed campground inside Mount Mitchell State Park on Commissary Ridge. Camping is also allowed along the Black Mountain Crest Trail outside the park boundaries.
Mountain ConditionsThe online weather station for Mount Mitchell can be seen here
Trail Profile.A profile of the trail from Mitchell to Winter Star can be found here
- The Black Mountains Program.
Nice site run by the Southern Appalachians Highland Conservancy.
- Official Mount Mitchell State Park website.
Basic information on Mount Mitchell State Park and environs.
- Friends of the Black and Great Craggy Mountains.
Nice information page about efforts to preserve and protect this part of North Carolina's high country.
- Elisha Mitchell and the Black Mountains.
Official NC site concerning the history of the Black Mountains.