At 6,684 feet,The highest peak east of the Mississippi
1 mile: Easy
From North Carolina cabin rentals in the Asheville area, it’s not hard to earn bragging rights to the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Drive approximately 35 miles from town to Mount Mitchell State Park, walk about five minutes from the parking lot and you’re there! Climb the stairs to the top of the observation tower, and you’re rewarded with 360-degree vistas.
If that sounds too easy, get in some more exercise and a brief education on the high-altitude forests. The Balsam Nature Trail veers off the summit path and travels through rare boreal forests that established themselves during the last Ice Age.
Of course, this forest type can only exist because of the cooler temperatures way up high. Bring a jacket to fend off the chilly winds that sometimes blow.
On the trail
From the parking lot, simply follow the signs to the summit. On the way back, take a right on the Balsam Nature Trail, which loops back to the parking lot.
From Willow Winds, take a right on Sweeten Creek Road. Drive 0.5 miles and then take a left on Rock Hill Road at the traffic light. Drive one mile down and then take a left on Hendersonville Road. Just 0.2 miles down, take a right onto the entrance ramp for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn left on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Exit the parkway shortly after mile 356, at Mount Mitchell State Park. Continue to the road’s end at the concession area parking lot.