Fit, experienced hikers are invited to join the NC High Peaks Trail Association for a very challenging climb up the Mt. Mitchell Trail on Friday, Feb. 2.

This extremely strenuous outing is not for beginners - the all-day hike will cover 12 miles, including a climb of about 3,700 feet up a rugged track that may be icy, followed by a tough, possibly slippery descent back down the same trail.

Hikers should assemble at 8:00 a.m. at the trailhead parking lot on South Toe River Road at the entrance to the Black Mountain Campground. Please note that the campground restrooms - as well as the Mt. Mitchell State Park restrooms near the summit - are closed for the winter.

Bring lunch, snacks, plenty of water, hiking poles if you use them, many layers of warm clothing and rain gear if the forecast looks threatening. Participants are strongly urged to bring strap-on traction devices such as micro-spikes or YakTrax, as upper portions of the trail are notorious for icy patches.

The hike should take 7 to 8 hours to complete, although if conditions deteriorate, the group will turn around before reaching the summit.

Leashed dogs are allowed on the hike, but please think hard before bringing your pooch: if there is snow or ice higher up, the dog may get freezing paws and could become a significant burden to you and the group.

For this hike it is mandatory to contact Hike Leader Jimmie Bowen at 252-450-5224 or ahead of time to discuss your level of fitness and experience.

As always, check the High Peaks Facebook page or website,, for last-minute changes due to the weather

Mount Mitchell drone shot