"Hiking to the top of the highest mountain in the park (6,643 feet) and the third highest in the East (Mount Mitchell is first at 6,684 feet, Mount Craig is second at 6,647 feet) is bittersweet. On one hand, there can be great distant views and you get to experience the extremes of life at this elevation—wind, rain, snow, fog, cold. It’s not uncommon to leave Gatlinburg in sunshine and 55-degree temperatures and find it snowing on Clingmans Dome. On the other hand, you experience the extremes of humankind’s negative influence on the environment—smog, introduced pests, crowds, and bulldozed mountainsides. Clingmans Dome is an outdoor classroom and everyone should study here at least once." Read more
"The Smokies’— and Tennessee’s— highest peak (6,643 feet) is more than just another chance to add to your life list of grandiose summits to conquer. The vista is astounding when the weather’s right.
Winter offers the best views from Clingmans Dome, but the road is closed December to March due to predictably heavy snowfalls. Only cross-country skiers willing to ski 14 miles round-trip (or backpackers on the AT) are likely to see the broad curve of the Earth from the tower." Read more
"Clingmans Dome presents that dilemma of so many peaks made accessible via a road to the summit. You could earn Clingmans Dome, doing it the hard way by making the 11-mile climb up Forney Creek or by taking the Appalachian Trail to the top, but why? You can get a stellar 360-degree view of the entire half-million-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the summit tower, even if it is choked with tourists on cell phones. It’s almost as bad as the summit scene atop Mount Everest. Thus, Clingmans Dome is less a conquest than a rite-of-passage. It’s there, everybody does it, and so, inevitably, will you." Read more
"Begin at the Appalachian Trail’s highest trailhead, near Clingmans Dome, and cruise spruce-ﬁr forest. Th en follow the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) along a knife-edge ridge, presenting stellar views. Head to the west side of Mount Buckley for a comprehensive vista and then backtrack, taking the A.T. to Clingmans Dome, with its views." Read more
"This loop starts at the highest trailhead in the park, taking the Appalachian Trail past myriad views of the park and beyond. It then drops into Tennessee, where you leave the high-country spruce–fir forest for a streamside campsite in rich woodland that has everywhere-you-look beauty. Remain in Little River Valley for a lovely watershed walk, to spend your second night beneath Clingmans Dome at Three Forks. Get a good night’s sleep here because your final day sees a long and strenuous climb back to the high country via Sugarland Mountain Trail, with more good views along the way. Finally, intersect the Appalachian Trail to undulate over Mount Collins and Clingmans Dome. Make a final stop at the observation tower atop the dome before completing your loop." Read more