Summit Trail

At A Glance


0.1 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 0.27
Steepness: Climbs Moderately
Tread Condition: Paved
Lowest Elevation: 6580 ft
Highest Elevation: 6684 ft
Climb Total: 104 ft
Blaze Color: None
Hikes That Use This Trail: Old Mitchell, Mount Mitchell


This easy leg stretcher leads from the summit parking area to the circular observation platform at the summit itself.

This is a paved path through a Fraser fir forest that was wiped out in the 1980's. All the mature firs died, but new ones sprouted everywhere to take their place. When I hiked this as a kind in the 90's, it looked like a Christmas tree farm with dead trunks still standing. As of 2020, the firs are tall enough to create a canopy and arch over the trail, creating a forest once again (albeit with some open areas, making for beautiful views that increase as you go up).

Halfway up you'll pass the old museum building, now used as a classroom by park naturalists. The Balsam Nature trail joins just past the building on the left. Use that on the return for a nice, easy loop that includes the summit.

The platform provides spectacular views from the highest point east of the Mississippi river. The summit of Mt. Mitchell is now accessible to everyone.

Intersecting Trails

  • Balsam Nature
  • Mountains to Sea Section 3
  • Mount Mitchell
  • Old Mitchell
  • This trail is located in the Mount Mitchell State Park area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Mount Mitchell State Park trails list page.

    All Photos from the Trail

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    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

    The WNCOutdoors Base layer is provided by It is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

    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:

    Mount Mitchell Summit - Parking to Old Mitchell

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking, Accessible
    • Length: 263 ft

    Mount Mitchell Summit - To Summit

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking, Accessible
    • Length: 505 ft

    Mount Mitchell Summit - Mountains to Sea - to Balsam Nature

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking, Accessible
    • Length: 248 ft

    Total Calculated Length: 0.19 mi

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



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