The highest point in North Carolina is Mount Mitchell, at an elevation of 6,684 feet (2,037 metres). Located in the Black Mountains in western North Carolina and in the Appalachian Mountains, it is the highest peak in the United States east of the Mississippi River.
Reach the summit of Mount Mitchell by driving on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, NC Highway 128, or hiking from Burnsville approximately 30 miles northeast of Asheville in Pisgah National Forest and Mount Mitchell State Park (where many approach trails start). You can also hike up a 1/4-mile paved, ADA accessible trail to the observation deck at the top for panoramic views.
In 1835, University of North Carolina professor Elisha Mitchell made measurements of the height of peaks in the Black Mountains using barometric pressure readings and mathematical formulas to determine the peak’s elevation. He surveyed the region and concluded that Mount Mitchell was higher than Mount Washington, which had been considered the highest mountain in the Eastern United States until then.
Mitchell’s claim was not without controversy. Congressman Thomas Clingman, a pupil of Mitchell’s, disagreed and challenged his measurements with a lengthy debate.
Ultimately, Mitchell was unable to verify his measurements, and fell to his death while trying to climb to the summit. The summit was eventually named in his honor. It is now the centerpiece of Mount Mitchell State Park and Pisgah National Forest. The park is home to a number of hiking trails, camping, and other attractions.