Ascent of Mount Craig on 2019-04-27
|Date:||Saturday, April 27, 2019|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-North Carolina|
| Elevation:||6647 ft / 2026 m|
Ascent Trip ReportHike #2 for the Black Mountains Hiking Challenge
After more than 3 months of working on my dissertation I finally got back out to the mountains for hike #2 of the Black Mountains Hiking Challenge. Stepps Gap was closed for parking, so I parked at the Mount Mitchell restaurant and followed the Old Mitchell Trail south. Although I had already bagged Mount Hallback, I decided to do it again to look for a manway others have used. On the way down from the summit I found the faint path, but honestly it would make little difference for your bushwhack. Once at Stepps Gap I was in a peakbagging mood so I followed the road up to Mount Gibbes. There was really no reason to do this other than adding mileage and a faint notion I would complete the South Beyond 6000 Challenge a second time. This is the fastest way up to Mt. Gibbes but not entirely legal. My advice is to just go for it quickly and there's a strong chance you will never be seen by a park ranger, a maintenance worker, or a private landowner.
Back at Stepps Gap I followed the Commissary Trail, a level forest road on the east side of Mount Mitchell. This trail turns right past Camp Alice and turns into the Buncombe Horse Range Trail, which passes by Commissary Hill and the Mount Mitchell Trail. After these junctions the forest road is much less traveled, and almost always wetter and more overgrown than any other trail in the Black Mountains. As you head north you'll first pass by Fork Ridge, a small bald with good views of Mount Mitchell and Balsam Cone. Then the BHRT passes a junction with the Big Tom Gap Trail and turns right on a long, overgrown track to Maple Camp Bald.
Maple Camp Bald is one of my favorite spots in the Black Mountains. It is relatively easy to reach, rarely has other hikers, and has excellent views of the peaks surrounding the headwaters of the South Toe River valley and the highest peaks in the East. I turned around and followed the steep, unrelenting Big Tom Gap Trail to Big Tom Gap. My tiredness got the best of me here, I thought I may bag Balsam Cone and Cattail Peal but decided to skip both. I proceeded south on the Black Mountain Crest Trail/Deep Gap Trail up and over Big Tom and Mount Craig. Given it was the afternoon late April, the haze started building by the time I got to Mount Craig and the views were less than stellar.
Mount Mitchell was crowded as I expected, so I did not stay long. If you want a better idea of what you can see from the tower, check my Mount Mitchell Trail video from a few months ago https://youtu.be/umfPZ7rsQDk. From Mount Mitchell I followed the Old Mitchell Trail north, and this was much rougher than I remembered. The Old Mitchell Trail may be one of the most rugged trails in the park that doesn't feature a drastic change in elevation. I finished this enjoyable hike in a little over 7 hours, knocking out 3 more trails and 2 trail segments for the challenge.
Distance - 12.4 miles
Elevation gain - 2,710 feet
Time - 7 hours and 10 minutes
Buncombe Horse Range Trail <191>, section 191b
Big Tom Gap Trail <191A>
Black Mountain Crest Trail <179>, section 179d
Old Mitchell Trail
|Summary Total Data|
|GPS Data for Ascent/Trip|
GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks: climbed and unclimbed by Zachary Robbins
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.
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