Burnsville is soon to be the town that connects this area’s highest mountain trails. The Burnsville Connector, recently conceived by author and Appalachian Trail record setting hiker, Jennifer Phar Davis, while talking with Jake Blood, co-founder of High Peaks Trail Association and chair of the Burnsville-Yancey Chamber Travel and Tourism Committee, is a newly identified 19-mile corridor connecting the Appalachian Trail, the Mountains to Sea Trail and the Black Mountain Crest Trail. The road becomes a part of the Appalachian High Route, which is a 343 mile loop across 50 of the 54 recognized peaks above 6,000 feet in the Western North Carolina Mountains. That includes Clingman’s Dome, the highest spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as the highest spot on the Appalachian Trail, and Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Black Mountains. The Burnsville Connector starts at the northern end of the Black Mountain Crest Trail and follows Bolens Creek into downtown Burnsville. The road walk parallels Cane River to reach the Lost Cove Trail where it feeds into the Appalachian Trail.
The Burnsville Connector will complete the vision of Benton MacKaye, the originator of the Appalachian Trail, to connect Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast, with Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain in the Southeast. Besides connecting the Appalachian Trail and Mountains to Sea Trail, this route utilizes the 11-mile Black Mountain Crest Trail in southern Yancey County and 5-miles of the Lost Cove and Devils Creek Trail in northern Yancey County.
The Appalachian High Route is predominantly located within Western North Carolina, but it does have several stretches that follow the NC/TN state line, where it does at times cross fully into Tennessee. The route passes through three National Parks, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, three National Forests, Nantahala, Pisgah, and Cherokee, and one NC State Park, Mount Mitchell.
This is good news not just for hikers but for all of the surrounding area as it will bring people into the town and the area, increasing revenues as they purchase supplies, gas and food and become familiar with this area as a destination.