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Maple Camp Bald and the Central Black Mountains - Pisgah National Forest, NC


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.0 mls N/A
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5 hours with 1 hour of breaks
1,675 ft
Pisgah National Forest
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Parking at the summit of Mt. Mitchell. 35.76651, -82.26498

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins ()

Take a hike on the quiet, east side of Mount Mitchell State Park by following the Buncombe Horse Range Trail to Fork Ridge and Maple Camp Bald, two summits with wonderful views. Although this hike begins amidst the crowds at the Mt. Mitchell summit parking, you’ll soon leave them behind as you descend through thick southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest on the Mt. Mitchell Trail. You’ll leave the state park boundary and follow the Buncombe Horse Range Trail north in Pisgah National Forest, skirting the eastern slopes of the Black Mountains. This lonely trail leads to a bald on Fork Ridge, and eventually Maple Camp Bald. Both landmarks boast excellent campsites and even better views of the South Toe River Valley and central Black Mountains. From there you follow the seldom-used Big Tom Gap Trail to the crest and the Deep Gap Trail south across Big Tom and Mt. Craig. Until you reach Mt. Craig, you’ll be perplexed by the hours you’ve spent in complete isolation while hundreds of people filter through the summit parking. After more outstanding views from Big Tom and Mt. Craig, the loop finishes at Mt. Mitchell, the tallest peak in the East. This relatively short full-day trip is jam-packed with more views and variance than almost any hike in the region.

Seasonal Access – The Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Mitchell State Park are normally closed all winter. From late November to early March you will likely not be able to drive in this area. You can create a nice weekend backpacking trip by taking the Mt. Mitchell Trail and camp at Commissary Hill or Maple Camp Bald.

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