Escapes

Q:

The South's Best Skiing: Mount Mitchell

Settle a bet between me and a buddy. He said there are a couple of pretty good places to ski in the South. I say there’s no such thing as good skiing in the South. Who’s right?

Pretty self-explanatory.     Photo: scgustinwdw/Flickr

A:The tallest peak east of the Mississippi, 6,680-foot Mount Mitchell is also the prime spot for backcountry skiing in the South. Skin or snowshoe to the open, forbidding summit, and you might be one of only four or five people to ski down its frosted slopes the entire winter. You have to strike while the iron is hot—or in this case, cold—immediately after a big snow, which only happens a couple of times each winter. Take the 5.6-mile Mount Mitchell Trail from the Black Mountain Campground to get to the top of the mountain. The ski run on the way down will drop you 3,500 vertical feet, provided there’s snow covering its entire length. Even under the best conditions, you won’t blink and think you’re in the Rockies, but navigate the rocks and roots, and you—and not many others—will be able to say, “I backcountry-skied in the South.”

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