16. Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina (11 miles)Get It
This 6,684-foot peak, plopped down in the Black Mountains at the southern edge of the Blue Ridge chain, is the highest east of the Mississippi. From the Black Mountain Campground on the Toe River, the trail gains 3,600-feet in just over 5.5 miles, much of it in old-growth hardwood forest, including a particularly striking and dense stand of red spruce and Fraser fire. At the 4,000-foot mark, you’ll come to the Long Arm Ridge, which swings to-and-fro across the back of the mountain. An observation platform at the summit provides 360-degree panoramic views of the green-crested Appalachians.
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