North Carolina county #88 Mount Mitchell State Park
Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain in North Carolina, is in Yancey County.
There is a relatively steep but short paved trail to the summit, and I also did a one mile trail around the summit area. Being the highest point for probably a thousand miles, it does seem like you are on top of the world. Even though it is not exactly the Rockies, this elevation does change the ecosystem around it. Pretty much all the trees are coniferous, and the climate is more like southeastern Canada than North Carolina.
There are birds here that are not found at lower elevations in North Carolina, and I was hopeful for a Red Crossbill which are not that uncommon. Unfortunately, the summit turned out not to be a great place to birdwatch, at least when I was there.
The trail was darker than the photo looks, and the one bird I was almost able to photo – a Hermit Thrush – proved very shy.
I was lucky to spy a Common Raven flying in the distance and calling, and a single Dark-eyed Junco brought my total bird count to three.
Still, I wouldn’t have skipped this spot anyway. It was an experience to be there, and it seems to me one of those places you just have to go to at least once if you live in the state. Also, one thing I didn’t realize, is that this also a full-blown State Park, including camping facilities. It would be interesting to camp up there some time. There are also more tourist type things than your typical State Park, like a place to eat and a souvenir shop.
In any case, this is well worth a stop if you are in the area. Not so much for the birds, but for the views. And who knows what you could find up there on the right day?