Updated: Dec 1, 2019
9 August to 11 August, 2019
3 days. 2 nights. Group of 4, which turned into 5 on day two.
11.7 miles total hiking.
Day 1 - Deep Gap Trail to Deep Gap Campsite (overnight at Deep Gap). 4 miles.
Day 2 - Deep Gap Campsite to Commissary Hill Campsite (overnight at Commissary Hill). 6.1 miles.
Day 3 - Commissary Hill back to Parking Lot. 1.6 miles.
This was a great trip to introduce people to some difficult hiking, while keeping the overall trip on the level of easy. A few weeks prior I had walked the entirety of this route on a day hike.
We arrived at the summit parking lot around noon on day one. We took our time and enjoyed lunch at the summit. It was a gorgeous day. Clear blue skies. No wind. The conditions remained like this for the duration of our trip.
We finally stepped off on the Deep Gap trail around 1pm (orange blazes). There are some up-and-downs on this trail, but the majority of it is downhill, especially the last mile into the Deep Gap campsite.
There are no water sources along the Deep Gap Trail until well beyond the Deep Gap campsite. We were aware of this and planned appropriately.
The Deep Gap campsite is small and can get crowded. A family of four arrived just before we did. Luckily they were camping with hammocks, so there was just enough room for the two groups.
For future trips I will plan our first night at Maple Bald campsite. It provides for an easier hike all around, and has more room available.
There was some friction between the two groups, which provided us with a bit of humor. Read that story here.
Day two was a challenge for the three hikers with me. The plan involved backtracking to a trail intersection we passed on day one. The first mile was all uphill, where it had been downhill the prior day. Though there were some struggles, all of the hikers pushed through and gained a sense of accomplishment.
At the intersection we met up with my college friend and his dog. We were now a group of five. We left the Deep Gap trail, heading down a spur trail where it met the Buncombe Horse Trail.
The intersection of the spur trail and Buncombe Horse Trail is where we were finally able to refill our water. All hikers brought plenty of water and did great with water management. It was a lesson that, though not preferable, one can spend the night at a campsite without a water source as long as there is proper planning.
After refilling our water we then continued on to the Commissary Hill campsite, arriving around 3:30pm. The Buncombe Horse Trail is a wide trail over gentle terrain. Just around ½ mile from our next campsite was another water source. We refilled again.
The Commissary Hill campsite is very big. Just after we pitched our tents a group of fourteen arrived. No problem. There was still room remaining after they were all set up.
Day three was an easy hike, 1.6 miles, uphill back to the summit of Mt. Mitchell. We were back on the outskirts of Asheville in time for a nice lunch.
I plan a repeat return to Mt. Mitchell State Park at least once in 2020.