A Journey to Mt. Mitchell’s Summit
North Carolina’s Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi, and except for a couple of inaccessible rocky peaks in South Dakota, it is the highest mountain east of the Rockies. It is named for the geologist who measured its height, and who was killed in a fall on his way back down. It is part of the Black Mountain range, where many peaks approach the height of Mt. Mitchell.
As you begin the accent up NC 80, you will pass Lake Tahoma and it’s island Casino, and the Black Mountains will loom impressively on the horizon.
NC 80 crosses The Blue Ridge Parkway at 4,500 feet, and the view from the Parkway is always breathtaking.
Looking eastward from one of the famous Overlooks, the Blue Ridge Mountains unfold like giant frozen waves on an endless sea.
Hints of autumn can be found above 5,000 feet as you near Mt. Mitchell State Park.
A twenty minute drive through towering peaks will lead you to a parking area below the summit. A short walk will take you up to an observation platform at the top. Hikers use many trails to arrive at the same place.
Soon you will arrive at the 6,684 foot summit where a stone platform will put you at the very top.
A large map of the state will show you all the compass directions…………….
Clear photographs placed around the platform will identify the peaks and distant landmarks in the 360 degree panorama.
Most impressive in the view toward the south is Clingman’s Peak with its array of radio and television transmission towers. From the platform, you’ll find that every frequency on your FM radio will have a clear station available. Only here will that happen because of the unobstructed access. You might notice the restaurant in the left center.
It isn’t unusual for clouds to roll in at any time. Snow has fallen on this platform during every month of the year.
One can find solitude here on top of the world. You’ll never forget your visit to Mt. Mitchell, and if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself returning again and again in all the seasons, weather permitting.