The Appalachian Mountains are a massive chain of mountains that stretch across the United States and into Canada. They extend for approximately 2,000 miles and are up to 300 miles wide in some places. Many different mountain ranges are part of the Appalachians, including the Blue Ridge, Black, and Great Smoky Mountains. Although the average height of these mountains is 3,000 feet, there are still several that are much taller. So, let’s learn about the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountains.
10. Mount Washington — 6,288 feet
The first peak on the list is Mount Washington in New Hampshire which stands at 6,288 feet. Mount Washington is considered to be the highest mountain in the northeastern region of the US. The majority of the mountain is located in the White Mountain National Forest and is home to various animals, including moose, bears, hares, deer, and marmots. There are also several rare and endangered plant species on the mountain, many of which are endemic to the area, including Robbin’s cinquefoil. Mount Washington forms part of the popular Appalachian Trail and is frequented by hikers and skiers, although its steep slopes, deep ravines, and high risk of avalanches mean it is also an incredibly challenging place to visit.
9. Old Black — 6,370 feet
Next, we have Old Black which is located in the Great Smoky Mountains and reaches 6,370 feet high. The mountain is named for the thick spruce-fir forests which cover its upper slopes as from a distance they appear to be almost black. However, its lower slopes are covered with hardwood forests. Old Black is Tennessee’s fifth-highest mountain and part of the Guyot massif. The western side of the mountain forms part of the Appalachian Trail. It is one of the least accessible mountains, being seven miles from the nearest road, and is a challenging place to hike.
7. Mount Chapman — 6,417 feet
Another mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains is Mount Chapman which is located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It has an elevation of 6,417 feet and has two peaks, although the southern peak is considered to be its true summit. Mount Chapman is one of the most remote mountains in the Appalachians and is situated 11 miles from the nearest campground and parking area. The Appalachian Trail crosses the western slope of the mountain and is just 200 feet from the summit.
8. Cattail Peak — 6,583 feet
Another demanding place to hike is Cattail Peak in Yancey County, North Carolina. Cattail Peak stands 6,583 feet high and is the fifth-highest peak in the eastern region of the US. The area is extremely rugged and is covered with thick, fir forests. Cattail Peak is subject to extreme weather conditions, including high wind. Cattail Peak, and the surrounding land, was purchased by the Conservation Fund and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in 2015 to preserve the area and its natural beauty.
6. Mount LeConte — 6,593 feet
The third-highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the sixth-highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains is Mount LeConte which is 6,593 feet high. Mount LeConte is also known for featuring the highest inn which offers lodging in the eastern region of the US. The LeConte Lodge is located on the top of the mountain and was first established there in 1925. Mount LeConte is a popular place for hiking and camping, although it can be challenging, particularly near the summit, due to the steep and rocky ground. Mount LeConte is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and is a particularly good spot for birdwatching.
5. Balsam Cone — 6,611 feet
Located in North Carolina, Balsam Cone is an impressive peak which reaches 6,611 feet high. It is named for the balsam trees which dominate its slopes. Although these have been threatened by acid rain in the past, they are once again thriving. Balsam Cone is in the Black Mountains and can be accessed via the Deep Gap Trail. It is a fairly remote location and the going is described as being rugged and challenging, although the view from the summit is undoubtedly worth it.
4. Mount Guyot — 6,621 feet
Just 10 feet taller than Balsam Cone is Mount Guyot, standing at 6,621 feet. Mount Guyot is in Haywood County, North Carolina, and is named after Arnold Guyot, a Swiss geographer. Again, Mount Guyot has two peaks, with the southwestern one being the true summit. The upper slopes and the summit are covered with a Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest. The eastern slope is the steepest but the southern slope forms part of the Appalachian Trail. However, the mountain is not particularly popular with hikers due to its remote location and rugged summit.
3. Clingman’s Dome — 6,643 feet
The highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains and on the Appalachian Trail is Clingman’s Dome which is located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is 6,643 feet high and features an observation tower that offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape. Clingman’s Dome is covered with spruce-fir forests, although many of the Fraser firs on its slopes have died off due to a pest insect known as the balsam woolly adelgid. These insects feed on the trees and release toxins in their saliva at the same time. The toxins prevent the formation of buds and also disrupt the water intake of the trees, eventually causing death.
2. Mount Craig — 6,647 feet
The second highest peak on the list is Mount Craig in North Carolina which has a height of 6,647 feet. Mount Craig is named after Locke Craig, a former governor of North Carolina who established the Mount Mitchell State Park in 1915. Many of the trails on Mount Craig are reported as being steep and rocky, although not overly difficult.
1. Mount Mitchell — 6,684 feet
The highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains is Mount Mitchell which stands at 6,684 feet. Mount Mitchell — known as Attakulla in Cherokee — is located in Yancey County in North Carolina. Although the old observation tower was destroyed in 2006, a new one was erected at the summit in 2009. The upper slopes and summit of the mountain are covered with red spruce and Fraser firs. Like Clingman’s Dome, many of the Fraser firs have been killed off by the balsam woolly adelgid.
Summary of the 10 Highest Peaks in the Appalachian Mountains
|#1||Mount Mitchell||6,684 feet|
|#2||Mount Craig||6,647 feet|
|#3||Clingman’s Dome||6,643 feet|
|#4||Mount Guyot||6,621 feet|
|#5||Balsam Cone||6,611 feet|
|#6||Mount LeConte||6,593 feet|
|#7||Cattail Peak||6,583 feet|
|#8||Mount Chapman||6,417 feet|
|#9||Old Black||6,370 feet|
|#10||Mount Washington||6,288 feet|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © David Boutin/Shutterstock.com
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