10 Amazing Mountains in North Carolina

Written by Tracy Graham
Published: September 8, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Frederik Flagstad
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North Carolina is a favorite destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. That’s because North Carolina has some of the most stunning mountains in the entire country. The famous Smokey Mountains run through North Carolina. So do the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Brushy Mountains. There is also almost 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina leading hikers through the mountains on their journey either to Georgia or from Georgia depending on which end of the trail the hikers start on.

Many of the best mountains for mountain hikes and mountain views are near Asheville, NC so if you’re planning a trip to NC and you’re looking for a city to serve as your home base Asheville is a fantastic choice. It’s within driving distance to many of the most stunning mountains in North Carolina including some of these mountains:

10 Stunning Mountains In North Carolina

Mount Mitchell

Mount Mitchell North Carolina
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in all of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

iStock.com/Frederik Flagstad

Located in: Black Mountains

Height: 6,684 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in all of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. When you stand on the observation deck at the very top of the mountain you have a nearly 360 degree panoramic view of the mountains, forests, and sky. It’s a spectacular thing to see and well worth the trip.

And Mount Mitchell is very accessible for almost everyone because there is a paved road that goes almost all the way to the summit. You can drive an easy 35 miles from Asheville and drive almost to the top of the mountain.

Or, if you prefer to hike up there are several trails that you can take. The Summit Trail starts right at the parking lot and goes to the observation deck on the peak. There’s also the Balsam Nature Trail, the Old Mitchell Trail, and the Deep Gap Trail.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Appalachian National Scenic Trail Blaze are common to see on these trails.

EWY Media/Shutterstock.com

Mount Craig

Mount Craig
Mount Craig is the second highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains and it’s only a short distance away from Mount Mitchell. Mount Craig isn’t as tourist friendly as Mount Mitchell.

Cody Flynn/Shutterstock.com

Located in: Black Mountains

Height: 6,647 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: Mount Craig is the second highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains and it’s only a short distance away from Mount Mitchell. Mount Craig isn’t as tourist friendly as Mount Mitchell. But if you’re willing to do some hiking you will be rewarded with views of some rare and endangered plants and animals that you will only find in this corner of the Black Mountains. One way to reach Mount Craig is to start over at Mount Mitchell and take the 2 mile Deep Gap Trail from the Mount Mitchell observation deck directly over to Mount Craig.

The Deep Gap Trail is the primary trail for accessing Mount Mitchell and you can pick it up in various places. There is a bit of climbing you’ll have to do on this trail as it ascends to the peak of Mount Craig but it’s a fairly easy hike. Just make sure that you bring clothing for all weather conditions. As you get higher the weather will get more unpredictable. Areas near the peak are often at least 15 degrees cooler than the temperatures in Asheville and the surrounding areas so you need to bring cold weather clothes as well as regular clothes.

Clingman’s Dome

Clingman's Dome
Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak west of the Mississippi River. This mountain actually sits right on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee so half of the summit is in Tennessee and half is in North Carolina.

Trent Carmichael/Shutterstock.com

Located in: Great Smoky Mountains

Height: 6,643 feet

Nearby City:  Gatlingburg, TN

Known For: Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak west of the Mississippi River. This mountain actually sits right on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee so half of the summit is in Tennessee and half is in North Carolina. But the visitor’s center and the main parking lot which leads to the observation deck on the top of the mountain is located on the North Carolina side. There is a paved road that leads to a parking lot about a half mile from the top of the mountain.

Once you get to the parking lot you’ll have a short hike of about half a mile to get to the observation deck. But, the incline is very steep so people who aren’t used to hiking may find that they need to stop a few times to catch their breath on the way to the top. The view from the observation desk is worth the struggle though.

Mount Guyot

Mount Guyot
Mount Guyot isn’t like Clingman’s Dome or Mount Mitchell. This mountain is relatively hard to get to and there are no paved roads that allow people to drive in.

iStock.com/Weber

Located in: Great Smokey Mountains

Height: 6,621 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: Mount Guyot is another mountain that is located along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. You can access it from either state, but if you are on the North Carolina side you will need to take one of the trails from Davenport Gap up the slope to the summit. Mount Guyot isn’t like Clingman’s Dome or Mount Mitchell. This mountain is relatively hard to get to and there are no paved roads that allow people to drive in. You need to hike in through some stunning old growth forests and rough terrain. This is not an easy hike. But if you are up for a challenge and you want to enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains without a lot of tourists the climb to the top of Mount Guyot is worth the struggle.

Balsam Cone

Balsam Cone
Balsam Cone is another peak that is part of the Black Mountain Crest along with Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig. It’s located not that far from the those peaks.

Brian Stansberry / Creative Commons – License

Located in: Black Mountains

Height: 6,600 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: Balsam Cone is another peak that is part of the Black Mountain Crest along with Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig. It’s located not that far from the those peaks. If you are an experienced hiker you could easily hike between all of them. But if you’re not an experienced hiker it’s better to drive the scenic Blue Ridge Highway and visit each mountain by car.

Balsam Cone was named for the masses of old growth Balsam trees that used to populate the top of the mountain. Unfortunately due to acid rain and other climate related damage many of the old growth Balsam trees died off in the last decade. There is a thriving Balsam nursery on Balsam Cone now and experts are hoping that the new growth Balsam tees will repopulate the peak in the future.

Mount Gibbes

Black Mountains, North Carolina
Sunset behind the Black Mountains in Western North Carolina.

Hunter Clarkson/Shutterstock.com

Located in: Black Mountains

Height: 6,520 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: Mount Gibbes is part of the Black Mountain chain that is not far from Asheville, but it’s the most remote of all of those peaks. So if you would prefer to get your mountain views away from all the tourists and you like hiking trails that aren’t as manicured as the trails for tourists this is the mountain trek for you. Just keep an eye out for Black bears because they are very commonly encountered near Mount Gibbes.

To access the trails that will take you to the summit of Mount Gibbes you will need to drive to Mt. Mitchell State Park from Asheville. Park at the Steppes Gap Ranger Station and you can pick up a trail from there. However the trail is not marked or maintained you must bring a trail map, compass, and any other trail finding tools you need with you.

Mount Chapman

Mount Chapman
The summit of Mount Chapman is dense spruce fir forest. If you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail the trail will get you almost right to the peak of Mount Chapman.

Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock.com

Located in: Great Smoky Mountains

Height: 6,417 feet

Nearby City:  Waynesville

Known For: Mount Chapman is quite close to Mount Guyot and it’s another peak in the Smoky Mountains that sits in both North Carolina and Tennessee. And like Mount Guyot this mountain is pretty remote and doesn’t have an observation deck or any of the tourist-friendly areas that mountains like Clingman’s Dome have. The summit of Mount Chapman is dense spruce fir forest. If you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail the trail will get you almost right to the peak of Mount Chapman.

Because Mount Chapman is quite a ways out of the way the closest place to park is Cosby Campground which is 11 miles away from the base of the mountain. You can also pick up a trail at Newfound Gap and hike into the area of the mountain that way.

Richland Balsam

Richland Balsam North Carolina
Richland Balsam is the highest point on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. It has two different car friendly overlooks so that tourists can pull in to look over the base of the mountain below.

iStock.com/QualityImagePro

Located in: Great Balsam Mountains

Height: 6,410 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: Richland Balsam is the highest point on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. It has two different car friendly overlooks so that tourists can pull in to look over the base of the mountain below. From the Haywood-Jackson Overlook you can take a very easy self-guided 1.5 mile loop trail around the summit. You’ll get a beautiful view as well as a nice walk.

The loop has an elevation climb of about 700 feet. Be prepared to stop and rest if you’re not used to that kind of incline on a hike. You should also bring a sweater with you. The temperature at the summit is always much cooler than the temperature below. If you’re visiting North Carolina in the summer an easy hike up to Richland Balsam is a nice way to escape the heat and humidity. You can also treat yourself to some beautiful scenery and cooler temperatures.

Black Balsam Knob

Black Balsam Knob North Carolina
The trail through Black Balsam Knob is relatively easy and it’s appropriate for hikers of all abilities.

iStock.com/Eifel Kreutz

Located in: Pisgah National Forest

Height: 6,214 feet

Nearby City:  Asheville

Known For: You can pick up the trail to Black Balsam Knob easily right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Art Loeb Trailhead. Once you start that trail you are in for a delight. The trail through Black Balsam Knob is relatively easy and it’s appropriate for hikers of all abilities. After you leave the Blue Ridge Parkway area you will go through a wonderfully scented balsam forest. And after a short climb you will burst into fields full of wildflowers as far as the eye can see. It’s quite a sight. As you climb further up to the summit you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the rolling blue mountains and green forests.

Celo Knob

Celo Knob
Hiking up Celo Knob is not for the inexperienced hiker or the faint of heart. To get to the top of Celo Knob hikers must make an ascent of over 3000 feet very rapidly or trek through some of the toughest terrain in the east.

Thomson200 / Creative Commons – License

Located in: Black Mountains

Height: 6,327 feet

Nearby City:  Charlotte

Known For: Hiking up Celo Knob is not for the inexperienced hiker or the faint of heart. To get to the top of Celo Knob hikers must make an ascent of over 3000 feet very rapidly or trek through some of the toughest terrain in the east. The approach to the summit is notoriously difficult because of the shape of the mountain.

The face of the mountain is a sheer drop which leaves only the western side of the mountain feasible to use as a way to the summit. Woody Ridge Trail is the fastest trail to the summit but it’s also one of the most difficult trails in the country to hike. The Black Mountain Crest Trail and the Buncombe Horse Trail are better trail options but all of the trails that lead to the summit of Celo Knob are going to test your hiking skills and athleticism.

10 Tallest Mountains In North Carolina

  • Mount Mitchell
  • Clingman’s Dome
  • Mount Craig
  • Mount Guyot
  • Balsam Cone
  • Cattail Peak
  • Mount Gibbs
  • Big Tom
  • Clingman’s Peak
  • Potato Hill

Highest Point In North Carolina

Mount Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina. The summit stands 6,684 feet tall.

Up Next

Mount Mitchell North Carolina

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is Mount Mitchell known for?

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in all of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

Where is the highest peak west of the Mississippi River?

Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak west of the Mississippi River. This mountain actually sits right on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee so half of the summit is in Tennessee and half is in North Carolina.

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