Located within the boundary of Mt. Mitchell State Park, Mt. Gibbes (not to be confused with Gibbs Mountain) is one of the 40 peaks that exceed 6,000 feet in the southeastern United States. It is located in the Black Mountain Range northeast of Asheville, NC. This is the highest mountain range east of the Mississippi. 11 "Southern Sixers" can be found in this range.
Mt. Gibbes itself stands alone in the Blacks. It is located well away from the tourist areas of the park and therefore is the site of very little visitation. The unmaintained trail that eventually degrades into a bushwhack through a thick balsam forest is difficult to locate. The area that surrounds the summit is a protected black bear habitat. If you visit in the spring, summer or early fall, tread lightly.
Views from the summit of Mt. Gibbes are restricted by the dense balsam forest that chokes this area but there are limited views of the Southern Blacks just west of the summit.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway go east through the Great Craggies until you get to mile 355.4. Turn left into Mt. Mitchell State Park and follow the winding road to The Stepps Gap Ranger Station. Park at Stepps Gap. Across the main street to the left will be a gated gravel service road. Walk around the gate and walk about 120 meters and turn left into a meadow surrounded by trees. There is a faint trail you can pick up once you arrive at the top of the meadow.
This trail is not marked and requires route finding skills.
There are no permits required to access Mt. Gibbes.
Access to Mt. Gibbes is limited during the winter months due to snow.
When visiting Mt. Gibbes the individual needs to be aware that they are hiking within the boudaries of a protected black bear habitat. Please respect these noble creatures. After all, this is their home, not ours. The Leave no Trace doctrine should be strictly followed whenever we visit the backcountry.
No parking pass is needed to park at Stepps Gap. However, if for some reason you intend to leave your car overnight it is probably a good idea to inform a ranger.
When To Climb
The best times of year to visit Mt. Gibbes are during the spring and fall. Summer in the Blacks can be a bit humid but not unbearable. Throngs of tourists descend on Mt. Mitchell State park to enjoy the views from the easily accessible Mt. Mitchell.
Camping is allowed at the State Park campground for a fee. This campground is usually extremely busy from late spring to late fall so plan ahead.
The Carolina Hemlocks Campground located off of the BRP at the junction of Forest Road 472 & NC 80 also offers fee camping.
What's in a Name?
Mount Gibbes is named in honor of South Carolina native Dr. Robert Wilson Gibbes in 1852. He was the first individual to measure the elevation of the mountain.
His most famous work was his 3 vol. Documentary History of the American Revolution which was published in 1853.
- Mt. Mitchell State Park
This links gives various info. about Mt. Mitchell State Park itself.
- Blue Ridge Parkway
This site offers comprehensive information about the BRP including weather and road conditions