Note: This trail is called the Black Mountain Crest Trail on the Forest Service map but the trailhead sign refers to the trail as the Deep Gap Trail
View – spectacular views of the area west of the Black Mountain Range from the summits of Mt. Craig, 6637 ft. and Big Tom, 6568 ft. There are numerous small rocky overlooks all along the trail. A small plane crash site is located very close to the trail in the gap between Mount Craig and Big Tom. We were not able to get the exact details of the crash but it is one of three crashes that occurred between 1973 and 1976 in the Black Mountain Range.
Hike Profile – the hike is 2 miles out and back on the Black Mountain Crest (Deep Gap) trail. This hike is rated as moderate due to the rocky trail surface and requires some rock scrambling. The trail is well used and quite popular. Because of the roughness of the trail, you should allow at least 2-3 hours for the hike.
Trail Surface – some smooth areas but also a lot of very rocky areas with rock scrambling required.
Environment – the trail leads though alpine type vegetation of balsam fir, moss and ferns.
Navigation – the Black Mountain Crest Trail leads from the trailhead to Mount Craig and then directly to the summit of Big Tom. The trail continues beyond Big Tom, but the summit is the turn around point for this hike.
The plane crash site is located just west of and below the trail on the descent from Mount Craig near the bottom of the gap between Mount Craig and Big Tom at N35 degrees 46.724′ (35.7787), W82 degrees 15.631′ (82.2605). See the photo gallery for the section of the trail near the crash site. To access the crash site, walk about 20 feet west of the trail to a ledge that looks down onto the site. It is an easy descent of about 10 feet down to the site.
Directions to Trailhead – the trailhead is located in the picnic area at the lower parking area of Mt. Mitchell. As the Mt. Mitchell road enters the summit area, the picnic area is on the left just after entering the parking area.