The trail starts in downtown Black Mountain on Cherry Street. Take Cherry street north, quick right onto State St followed by an immediate left onto Rt 9/Montreat St. Continue on Montreat St for several miles all the way into Montreat and take a right toward Montreat Collage at Lookout Rd. You'll start climbing as you go through the campus. Once on the other side of the campus you'll finally get on some trail. Lookout Trail
will be on your right. Keep an eye out for it and start a gentle climb up it.
When Rainbow Road
ends, after 1.6 miles, though you'll be following Old Mitchell Toll Road
for much of the way, this is not where you pick it up (I made that mistake. It'll add mileage). Instead, take Old Trestle Trail
for another 1.6 miles. Hang a right onto Appalachian Way Trail
, which will take you to the Old Mitchell Toll Road
. This, you''ll follow for several miles until it ends at the Blue Ridge Parkway. At this point you are about 14 miles in and this is a good place to have support before you're climb to the summit.
Take a left up the Blue Ridge Parkway and follow to 128, the road up into Mount Mitchell
State Park and the Mitchell summit. Follow that for a short while until you can pick up the Buncombe Horse Trail
via a short stint on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the right. Follow the Buncombe Horse Trail
until it intersects with the Mt Mt. Mitchell Trail #190
. Take a left and follow to the Summit (where crew can once again meet you.)
From the Summit you take a different route down, starting with the Old Mitchell Trail
, which descends for 1.8 miles until you once again connect with 128. This downhill on pavement with cars will be one of the most painful stretches of this route (feel free to get creative if you aren't feeling obligated to match the old course). 128 will continue down to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which, after a left onto the BRP, will take you back to the Old Mitchell Toll Road
. Follow this back to the Appalachian Way Trail
, which turns into a road (Appalachian Way) at the trails terminus. The steep downhills along this stretch and back into Montreat will punish your quads.
Once past Lookout Rd, Appalachian Rd becomes Texas Rd. Continue down Texas Rd until you can pick up the Gate Trail
. This trail will drop you back off on Route 9, which you ran up earlier in the day. However, to keep things interesting and make sure you stay on your toes regarding directions, the route takes a left onto Flat Creek Rd before crossing over a bridge, at E Cotton Ave to access the Greenway on the other side. You'll follow the greenway until it ends at Chalotte St. Take a right and another gentle right onto 1st St. Take a left onto Rt 9/Montreat St and then the second right onto Laurel Circle Dr. Stay on Laurel Circle Dr (don't keep going around the loop onto S Laurel Circle Dr) by taking a right out of the loop and cross Rhododendron Ave to enter Lake Tomahawk Park.
As if the insane lack of a clear linear path, the sadistic designer of this course has the finishers complete the run at the north end of the Lake, just past the rest rooms. However, once in site of the glorious end, and only 100 yards from it, you instead have to run all the way around the lake to reach this point. Enjoy your five minutes of cursing the Gods as you run this extra distance to the finish spot. And, well done. That's a hell of a thing you just accomplished (and tolerated).