Winter Star, besides having a truly magical name, is an outstanding peak of the southern Appalachians. One of the highest mountains in the eastern USA, it offers some unique hiking opportunities and some of the nicest views one could imagine. Rising starkly above Deep Gap, there are some great vistas to be had of the ridge rising over the gap, and of the nearby peaks of the Black Mountains which loom all around Winter Star.
The easiest route is to take the Deep Gap (Black Mountain Crest) Trail from the Mount Mitchell picnic area just below the parking lot at the summit of Mount Mitchell. One can also get to the peak from Bolens Creek (from NC 1109) via an eight mile trek to Deep Gap over Winter Star. Or you can catch the Colbert Creek Trail from the Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area off of NC 80. Or via the Mountains to the Sea Trail also from the Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area catching the connector Big Tom Gap Trail to the crest and then right to Deep Gap, and then Winter Star. All of these routes involve long climbs and very tough hiking, with Deep Gap from Mount Mitchell being the shortest and easiest.
There is no red tape and no admission fees of any kind.
The various park and forest services do request that no one camp on the crest of the Black Mountains. There are ample campsites available along the coves and in the gaps, most notably in Deep Gap, just at the foot of Winter Star.
When To Climb
All year. Summer, to me, is the best time for this area.
Keep in mind that the Black Mountain peaks are the highest in the eastern USA, and the weather here can be extremely fierce during the winter months. Ice and deep snow and very powerful winds are not unusual during the winter.
The nearest and best campsites are to be had at Deep Gap, just at the foot of Winter Star.