Black Mountain Crest Trail

At A Glance

Most Difficult

7.4 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 14.95
Steepness: Climbs Steeply
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Lowest Elevation: 3250 ft
Highest Elevation: 6203 ft
Climb Total: 3500 ft
Blaze Color: Yellow
Trail Number: 179


📝 Note: The length of this trail is up for debate; see below.

From Bolens Creek's north end at about 3050 ft elevation, this trail follows a recognizable old Forest Service road before becoming more of a foot trail following a more ancient road bed. Some of the steep portion of trail near scenic Bolens Creek is close to pools where fishing may be possible. The trail switchbacks its way up above the 6000 ft contour below Celo Knob, gradually passing from the hardwood forests of lower elevations to the Spruce-Fir ecosystem higher up in its initial climb of over 3100 ft. Some older logging road beds split off in places; keep ascending on the widest path to stay on track.

The trail breaks into open areas near Celo Knob, rewarding your effort with spectacular west-facing views and down the spine of the ridge to the south.

The trail then takes a more level course to gain the ridge of the Black Mountains south of Celo. It reaches a junction with the Woody Ridge trail and Horse Rock in some wide-open areas dotted with Spruce and Fir trees. It then runs the ridge of the Black Mountains to the south, transitioning from an old road grade to a rocky foot path. This portion is mostly forested and views are more limited. The trail gets rougher with many ups-and-downs and rough portions, making it a taxing journey.

Along the way, the trail passes near or across several 6,000+ ft peaks:

  • Celo Knob (6,327 ft) - bypasses
  • Gibbs Mountain (6,200+ ft) - bypasses
  • Winter Star Mountain (6,203 ft) - crosses (highest point north of Deep Gap)
  • Deer Mountain (6,080 ft) - crosses

It then descends to Deep Gap, passing the junction with Colbert Ridge trail on the left.

There is limited water along the ridge, but water is available near Deep Gap either down the Colbert Ridge trail about 0.4 mi or the old forest road heading southwest from Deep Gap.

Trail Length

The trail with this name either ends here at Deep Gap, continues to the state park boundary, or continues all the way to the Mt. Mitchell Picnic Area, depending on who you ask. The Forest Service refers to this entire trail along the Black Mountains - including that within Mt. Mitchell State Park - to be the Black Mountain Crest trail. The State Park refers to the portion from Deep Gap to the Picnic Area as the Deep Gap trail, so both agencies claim naming rights to the portion from Deep Gap to the picnic area.

Regardless of what you call it, it's the same path.

To make an arbitrary decision, we'll draw the dividing line at Deep Gap for now until more of a consensus should arise. The total one-way length of this trail is around:

  • 7.4 mi if you include only the portion up to Deep Gap
  • 8.7 mi if you include the portion up to the State Park boundary
  • 11.5 mi if you include all of the path to the Picnic Area.

The typically-cited length of just over 12 miles includes a jaunt up to the Mt. Mitchell summit and back to the parking area for a shuttle back to the start.

Intersecting Trails

  • Colbert Ridge
  • Deep Gap
  • Woody Ridge
  • This trail is located in the Black Mountains & Toe River area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Black Mountains & Toe River trails list page.

    This trail also crosses into these trailhead areas:

    GPS Map

    Map Information

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    Data Formats

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    About the Map


    Base Layers

    Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

    WNCOutdoors Base Layer

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    Trail and Marker Overlays

    Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).


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    Trail Segments

    Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

    Black Mountain Crest - Deep Gap to Colbert Ridge Trail

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.14 mi

    Black Mountain Crest - Colbert Ridge Trail to Woody Ridge Trail

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 2.7 mi

    Black Mountain Crest - Woody Ridge Trail to Bolens Creek End

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 4.54 mi

    Total Calculated Length: 7.38 mi

    This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.



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