Mount Mitchell State Park: hiking the Old Mitchell and Commissary Trail loop Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell: hiking the Old Mitchell Trail, Camp Alice Trail and Commissary Trail Loop

Hike the Mount Mitchell High Loop, catching stunning summit views at the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Explore a rocky, high-elevation forest on the Old Mitchell Trail, and visit sun-drenched fields of wildflowers and wild berries and a waterfall on this four-mile loop.

trail info

4 miles
(round trip)
more
difficult
Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mount Mitchell State Park (maps & directions)

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 779 Trails Illustrated Map

Towering above the surrounding landscape, Mount Mitchell rises high from the crest of the Black Mountains. The highest summit east of the Mississippi, Mt Mitchell’s soaring 6,684-foot height is home to harsh elements, unique ecosystems and, on clear days, some of the most spectacular views in western North Carolina.

Hike the Old Mitchell Trail and Commissary Trail loop at Mt Mitchell State Park to spectacular summit views

Sure – you can drive to the near-peak of this towering mountain, following a quarter-mile, paved path to the summit’s observation platform on the Mount Mitchell Summit Trail. This hike takes the longer, more scenic route, exploring a four mile stretch of beautiful high-elevation forest, wildflower-filled meadows, and fragrant stands of fir in the mountain’s shadow. The hike follows the Old Mitchell Trail to the mountain’s summit, and then looping back to the trailhead on the Camp Alice and Old Commissary Trails, visiting a small, tumbling waterfall.

Hike the Old Mitchell Trail through a wildlife and wildflower-filled forest at North Carolina's Mount Mitchell State Park

Also called the ‘Mount Mitchell High Loop’, this trio of trails follows a lesser-traveled route, though crowds at the Mitchell summit are frequent. Our favorite time to hike this loop is in the early morning when the sun’s rays are golden and the summit’s crowds are sparse.

With incredible sunrise views, drifting fog banks and exceptionally beautiful forest, this loop is well worth the mileage.

Mount Mitchell High Loop: the hike

The hike departs from the Old Mitchell trailhead at the Mount Mitchell State Park Visitor Center, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway (view maps and driving directions). The trail meanders northeast through a forest of fragrant balsam fir. The trail’s surface is rocky and rooty, running through alternate stands of fir and open, grassy expanses of wildflowers and wild berries.

Hike the Mount Mitchell High Loop through a beautiful high-elevation forest to Mt Mitchell's summit, the highest peak east of the Mississippi

The trail rolls elevation over Hallback Mountain, following yellow trail blazes and descending to the park’s restaurant. After crossing through the parking area, the trail dives back into the high-elevation forest, descending through switchbacks through a rocky, boulder-studded forest and fields of wildflowers.

Hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell through meadows of abundant wildflowers and wild berries, and fragrant balsam forest, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near of Asheville, NC

The hike dips through a power line clearing at 1.1 miles after crossing a wooden bridge, catching limited views from the clearing. The trail bed becomes increasingly rockier as the hike begins its ascent to the summit, climbing wooden stairs and boulders in a lush, shady forest.

 

The trail meets an intersection with the Camp Alice Trail at 1.4 miles, veering left to begin the final climb to the summit. Reaching the paved Mount Mitchell Summit Trail at 1.7 miles, the hike hangs a right, spiraling toward the summit and catching exceptional, 360-degree panoramas from the observation platform.

Hike to stunning Mt Mitchell summit views on the Old Mitchell Trail, catching 360-degree panoramas just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC

The hike departs the summit, retracing the Summit Trail and Old Mitchell Trail to return to the Camp Alice trailhead. The route turns left on the Camp Alice Trail at 2.3 miles, descending through switchbacks and carving through stands of young pine and a mossy, fragrant balsam forest. The sound of tumbling water fills the forest as the trail parallels Lower Creek. A small waterfall cascades near the trail at 2.7 miles, just as the Camp Alice Trail intersects the wide, gravel roadbed of the Commissary Trail.

Hike to a tumbling waterfall at Mt Mitchell State Park on the Old Mitchell Trail and Commissary Trail loop

The hike turns right, following the Commissary Trail southbound in a gentle climb. Wildflowers stretch skyward along the old gravel roadbed, basking in the abundant sunshine. In warmer summertime months, wild berry bushes line the trail with abundant fruit.

Hike the M Mitchell Old Mitchell Trail through fields of wildflowers and to stunning summit views in western NC

The trail catches views at 3.3 miles and 3.6 miles, arcing around bends in the roadbed and veering southwest. The hike reaches the trailhead at 4 miles, completing the hike.

More Mount Mitchell hiking adventures

Up for more mileage at this ultra-scenic park? Explore the ridge line of the Black Mountains on Mount Mitchell’s Deep Gap Trail, rolling elevation to Mount Craig and Big Tom, Mt Mitchell’s closest neighbors. Or hike the Balsam Nature Trail through a lush, high-elevation forest near the Mitchell summit.

share this:

Old Mitchell Trail and Commissary Trail Loop Map, Directions & Details

Old Mitchell Trail and Commissary Trail Loop Map
Old Mitchell Trail and Commissary Trail Loop Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

Free parking is available at Mount Mitchell State Park, located north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 355. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)

GPS Coordinates

35.745681, -82.277440     //     N35 44.740, W82 16.646

Elevation Profile

Mount Mitchell: Old Mitchell Trail and Commissary Trail Loop Elevation Profile
Leave No Trace: Asheville Trails is an official Leave No Trace partner

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.
 
Some links on Asheville Trails are affiliate links, which means that the merchant might pay us a commission if you purchase a product after clicking our links. This helps support our work, at no extra cost to you. We only recommend gear that we personally use and love.
Thank you for your support! - the Asheville Trails crew