Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 35.72990°N / 82.2911°W
Additional Information Elevation: 6400 ft / 1951 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Let's get something straight right off the bat. You're not going to stay up late at night excitedly planning a trip to Potato Knob. Although it's one of the highest peaks in the eastern United States, it is neither a prominent peak nor does it offer impressive views. Potato Knob does offer a fun little light bushwhacking/routefinding and extension onto a longer hike on the Black Mountain ridge.

County highpointers will also view this mountain as an objective. Potato Knob is the high point of Buncombe County. From one Potato Knob access point (Black Mountain Gap), another county high point is easily accessed. The Knob can also be accessed from Stepps Gap or the Mount Mitchell parking area.

Whoever named the mountains in the area either enjoyed confusing the hell out of people or had the imagination of a toadstool. There is another peak, Potato Hill, on the same ridge. This ridge also boasts Mount Gibbes and Gibbs Mountain. Anyhow, Potato Knob is identified as the most southwesterly peak on the Black Mountain Ridge, and is also named on USGS topo maps.

Getting There

The obvious access points are from the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far from I-40. If coming from the east, simply take US 221 to NC 80, which runs into the Blue Ridge Parkway. Follow this north for 18 miles. You can park at the Black Mountain Gap and head straight up the ridge (I didn't go this way but have heard there is a faint trail) or enter Mount Mitchell State Park and park at Stepps Gap (for a quicker ascent) or the Mount Mitchell Parking area for a longer ridge traverse than parking at Stepps.

Note: The Blue Ridge Parkway does close due to weather from time to time in the winter. If planning a trip during winter months, be sure to check the Mount Mitchell State Park website - a good place for information regarding BRP closures due to weather.

Due to recent rockslide, the approach from the Asheville (west) on the parkway is closed. If coming from the west you'll need to head north from Asheville on US 19/23 and head east on US 19E where US19/23 separate. Head south on NC 80 to the BRP, and access the Mount Mitchell State Park from there. No word on when the road will reopen, but there is concern about structural integrity so it may take awhile.

Red Tape

No fees to enter the park. There isn't much red tape here, except that overnight hikers must register with the park.

The gate is locked upon closing of the park. Following are the operating hours for Mount Mitchell State Park:

November-February, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
March and October, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
April and September, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
May-August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

When To Climb

Any time of year. There was some snow and ice in late October. It's obviously cooler than the surrounding lowlands. Be prepared for high winds and low temperatures (frequently below zero) in the winter.


Camping is permitted in designated areas only. There are no shelters nearby, and you don't have to pay fees to camp.

Mountain Conditions

The following link seems to serve as a good guide for weather in the Black Mountains. Ray's Fearless Mountain Forecast

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-2 of 2
chugach mtn boy

chugach mtn boy - Oct 15, 2018 9:07 pm - Hasn't voted

2018 Update

There IS a view from the top, although it's from a rock tower about 100 yards south of the true summit and a few feet lower. Scramble the tower by a gully on the NE side. It's a mighty fine viewpoint. The boundary trail on the Buncombe/McDowell line used to be wide open and exhilarating, about the nearest thing to "alpine" in the NC mountains. No longer. Regrowth among the outcrops has mostly blocked the views on the way up, and the trail is extremely faint and primitive (though blazed or flagged in a few places). Access is now from NC 80 via the MST, which follows the ridge for awhile, then slides onto its NE flank. When it crosses back to go to the S flank, turn straight up the ridgeline. The summit can also be reached by the gated road to Clingmans Peak from Steppe's Gap. Skirt the peak itself and continue south on the BM Crest Trail, which as of 2018 had been recently brushed out, with most deadfall cut through.

Biofixer - Jul 17, 2023 8:41 am - Hasn't voted

2023 Update

As the 2018 Update points out, there is a view (mostly to the west) from the top rock tower. There is also a spectacular view (mostly to the east) a bit below the summit ridge. A couple hundred feet before you get to the ridge, the boundary 'trail' forks. The right fork goes up to the ridge while the left fork goes back downhill a couple hundred feet to a rock outcrop that offers one of the best vistas in the Black Mountains. I first climbed the Knob in 1996 and it is much more overgrown than it used to be, though the boundary trail is still detectable. Many of the good views are grown or growing over. However, that lower view to the east (and the solitude) still makes the climb worth it to me. Minor correction to the 2018 update: the MST leaves from NC Hwy 128 (the Mt. Mitchell spur road) below Potato Knob, not Hwy 80.

Viewing: 1-2 of 2



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.