Photos of Mount Mitchell State Park

 

Mount Mitchell State Park entrance on Hwy 128 in Southern Yancey County.  Mount Mitchell has been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve (IBR).  There are fewer than 50 IBRs in America, and most of them are in national parks.

 

View of the observation platform on the summit of Mount Mitchell.  Photo by Sam Dean

 

The platform was completed in 2009, and gives park visitors a 360-degree view of the mountains.

Mount Mitchell photos by Chanse Simpson

A long, curved ramp connects the concrete walkway with the observation platform on the summit.

The observation platform on the summit offers amazing views of Yancey County and the surrounding mountains.

Dr. Elisha Mitchell is buried on the summit of the mountain.  Mitchell fell to his death in a waterfall on the western slope of the mountain on June 27, 1857.   In an effort spearheaded by future NC governor Zebulon Vance, Dr. Mitchell’s body was exhumed from his grave in Asheville, and reburied on the summit on June 10, 1858.  Vance was a former student of Mitchell at UNC, and a longtime friend.  He also had strong personal and political opposition to Mitchell’s rival, Thomas Clingman.

The inscription on Elisha Mitchell’s grave reads:  HERE LIES / IN THE HOPE OF A BLESSED RESURRECTION / THE BODY OF THE / REV. ELISHA MITCHELL, D.D. / WHO AFTER BEING FOR / THIRTY-NINE YEARS A PROFESSOR IN THE / UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA / LOST HIS LIFE IN THE SCIENTIFIC / EXPLORATION OF THIS MOUNTAIN IN, / THE 64TH YEAR OF HIS AGE. / JUNE 27, 1857.

Dr. Elisha Mitchell  1793 – 1857

The Old Mitchell Trail is a 2-mile long path thru the park that leads from the summit area to the campground spur, Camp Alice Trail, restaurant, and park office.  There’s also a half-mile section that is part of the Mountains-to-Sea trail, the 1150-mile path from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.

In 1916, the year the park opened, the Mt. Mitchell Railroad delivered more than 10,000 visitors to Camp Alice, located on the southeast side of the mountain below the summit.  Trains departed from the station in the town of Black Mountain.  The track was over 20 miles long, and climbed more than 3,500 feet.  Read more railroad info here

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all across the country, and beyond, visit Mount Mitchell.

 

In 2009, the park constructed a new concrete walkway from the parking area to the summit.

 

Looking south from the observation deck.  The building midway on the left is the park restaurant.  The buildings on the lower right are located in the park’s maintenance area.  The towers in the distance (on Clingman’s Peak) are from WMIT radio station.

 

The campground at Mount Mitchell State Park has 9 tent sites and a bathroom facility with toilets and sinks (no showers).  Individual campsites are accessed along a stair-stepped trail that ascends from the parking area.  The closest campsite is located about 25 feet from the parking lot; the farthest sites are up the trail about 75 – 100 feet.  Each site has a steel fire ring and picnic table.

Elevation here 6,578 feet.  Mount Mitchell summit parking area looks out over Yancey County.

The summit area of the park has nature trails for hiking and photography, concession and souvenir shops at the parking area, and (left) an interpretive museum with historical and educational exhibits, including this lifesize carving of Big Tom Wilson by Yancey County artist David Boone.  It was Big Tom, a famous mountain man in his own right, who found Dr. Mitchell’s body at the base of a waterfall.

 

 

This tower, pictured here in 1994, was loved by generations of visitors to Mount Mitchell.  It was built in 1959 and stood on top of the mountain until 2008, when it was disassembled and replaced with an observation platform.  Photos by Chanse Simpson

Mount Mitchell holds several state records for extreme winter weather:  coldest temp (-34), most snow in 24-hours (36 inches), and the most snow in a single storm (50 inches during the Blizzard of ’93).

 

Winter on Mount Mitchell is a long, hard season that tests man and machine.

View of Mount Craig and the northern end of the Black Mountain range.

The concession stand after a winter snowstorm.