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Guidebook Getaway: Hike to the Highest Point East of the Mississippi

Need a trip idea for the weekend? Guidebook Getaway, a new feature from The REI Blog, is here to help.

On a periodic basis we’re going to dip into the REI guidebook library and pull out an outdoor excursion well suited for this time of year. Working with the publishers, we'll provide you with all the details for free, straight from the guidebook. Pretty cool.

Our ideas will come from all over the country, so we're likely to offer ones fairly close to your turf in the months ahead.

Today’s pick: a hike to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi, 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. Yes, it’s possible to drive to almost the summit, but where’s the fun in that? We figure it's more rewarding to hike to the top.

The Mount Mitchell High Loop is a moderate to potentially strenuous (depending on your fitness) 4-mile loop that is detailed in Five-Star Trails: Asheville, written by Jennifer Pharr Davis and published in 2012 by Menasha Ridge Press.

Get the trail free description. If you like it, get the whole book.

PDThe hike’s entire guidebook description can be viewed via a printable PDF, so you can tuck the printout in your pocket as you hoof the 600-foot gain the trail presents.

Why hike it now? On our behalf, the folks at Menasha Ridge Press asked the author. “August is a great time to be on this trail because the butterflies are out in abundance and the berries are starting to come out,” Pharr Davis reports.

PDPharr Davis, by the way, made headlines in 2011 by setting a new overall speed record on the Appalachian Trail by hiking the 2,181-mile route in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, more than 24 hours faster than any male or female hiker had previously traveled the distance. She averaged 47 miles per day on her supported trek.

Thanks to Pharr Davis (that's her in the photo on the right) and the folks at Menasha Ridge Press for making this trip available to us. The REI Asheville store is not far from Mount Mitchell, so feel free to swing by and talk to the REI crew about other hiking ideas in the area. Looking for more guidebooks? REI.com offers a nice assortment.

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Photos courtesy of Menasha Ridge Press.

Posted on at 11:30 AM

Tagged: Family, Hiking and guidebooks

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