Route: Gritchell (NC)

Submitted by ballkn on Mon, 11/02/2020 - 04:12pm
North Carolina, US
100.48 mi
Vertical Gain
24,075 ft

Similar to the better known "Pitchell", this route connects 2 iconic peaks in North Carolina, Grandfather Mountain and Mt Mitchell.  It also follows the Mountains to Sea Trail much of the way.

This route is approximately 97 miles long with nearly 24,000ft of gain and 22,000ft of descent. It begins on Profile Trail, at the base of Grandfather Mountain, and climbs 1800ft to Calloway’s peak before descending 900ft to the other side of the mountain, via Cragway Trail. Combined, these two trails account for 4.3 miles and include very technical sections with some rock scrambling and ladders to help move down very steep sections. After crossing Grandfather Mountain, the route follows the Tanawha Trail for about 7 miles. This leg is made relatively technical by the significant amount of roots and rocks that litter the trail. The challenge is made worthwhile with extensive views at Rough Ridge and of the iconic Linn Cove viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tanawha trail ends at Beacon Heights where it meets with Segment 4 of the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST), which comprises about 75% of the entire distance. The first 31 miles on the MST are spent in the Wilson Creek area and touches several prominent trails including parts of the Lost Cove, Harpers Creek, and Steels Creek Trails. The MST then runs across the eastern Ridge of the Linville Gorge and passes many prominent land marks including Table Rock and Shortoff Mountain. Approximately 11 miles are spent in the Gorge and ends with the crossing of the Linville River and a 2mile 1500’ climb to Pinnacle Peak on the western rim of the Gorge. 

Once out of the Gorge, the MST follows the Over Mountain Victory trail and then connects with FS106 before climbing to a very technical ridgeline that touches Bald Knob. If conditions are right, this section provides an opportunity to see Dobson Knob, and the final destination, which lies 40 miles in the distance, Mount Mitchell. After crossing the ridgeline, the MST descends about 2300’ in 4 miles towards North Fork Catawba River and US-221. This is an extremely technical and fun descent with 14 switch backs in about 1 mile. After crossing 221, there is only a marathon left to reach the destination. However, this part of the course contains the crux of the run with a 4 mile; 2,000’ climb up to Woods Mountain via the Woods Mountain Trail. This is followed by a ridgeline traverse that climbs across many peaks and offers another glimpse of Mount Mitchell before descending into the Black Mountain Campground where the MST ends and picks up the final push to the summit via the Mount Mitchell Trail. This trail climbs for about 6 miles and includes about 3600’ of elevation gain on what will certainly be fatigued legs.

GPS Track


EPIC! Glad to have witnessed this! Next time you'll do it even faster without a hurricane and with your crew being more experienced

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Profile picture for user Natalie H Daniel

I plan to run this route starting on Thursday, November 9 as the first half of a 200 mile route that will end at the Davidson River campground in Brevard. I will have crew and pacers along the way assisting me.