Elevation: 6,684 feet
Save for the notoriously inclement Mt. Washington, no other mountain under 7,000 feet offers such an alluring combination of scenery, storms, and access. It can snow any day of the year on Mt. Mitchell’s summit, the highest east of the Mississippi. The record low is -34 degrees F, and winds up top commonly exceed 100 mph. From the parking lot high above the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s all of 285 yards to the bulky stone structure at the summit. Pay your respects at the grave of Dr. Elisha Mitchell, the clergyman and science professor who fell to his death in 1857 while trying to establish that the peak was, in fact, the state high point.
Contact: Mt. Mitchell State Park, (828) 675-4611; www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/visit/momi/home.html
USGS Topo: Mount Mitchell