High Peaks Announces Black Mountains Hiking Challenge

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Hikers looking for adventure and gorgeous views are invited to test their endurance and earn a cool patch by completing the Black Mountains Hiking Challenge, a rigorous set of 23 hikes that includes all the official trails in the highest mountain range in the Eastern United States.

The Challenge was developed by the NC High Peaks Trail Association as a way to promote hiking in Yancey by offering dedicated hikers a program that will introduce them to the best of our local trails.

“It’s not for beginners or those in poor physical condition,” said High Peaks President John Whitehouse. “But if you love hiking and are looking for new challenges, this might be something you want to try.”

The Challenge is modeled after similar programs developed decades ago by hiking clubs in the Northeast, as well as several challenges offered by Asheville-based Carolina Mountain Club.

Hikers can begin their hikes after Jan. 1, 2018 and can take as long as they want to finish. The 23 hikes cover a cumulative 66.4 miles and include several rugged jaunts, such as the Colbert Ridge and Woody Ridge Trails, but also some more leisurely strolls, such as the hikes surrounding the Black Mountain Campground.

The highlight, of course, is the Black Mountain Crest Trail, which leads along the spine of the range, offering tremendous views of the South Toe and Cane River valleys and beyond. Hikers will summit Mt. Mitchell, the East’s tallest mountain at 6,884 feet, from which some have reported spotting the Bank of America tower in Charlotte on clear days.

“Hiking is wonderful exercise, and many of these hikes will test your endurance,” Whitehouse said. “But hikers will also have the chance to spend extended time in our forests, which are a beautiful setting.”

High Peaks leads monthly hikes and in the coming year plans to complete many of the hikes listed on the challenge, so hikers are encouraged to join the club on its outings. The 2019 schedule kicks off on Jan. 1 with two hikes near the Black Mountain Campground, with details to be released next week.

For a complete list of the hikes, the Challenge rules and more details, visit the High Peaks website at www.nchighpeaks.com/challenge.

Photo Info: Hikers can earn this patch by completing the 23 hikes included in the new Black Mountains Hiking Challenge, which was created by the NC High Peaks Trail Association