Clingmans Dome Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Elevation Gain340ft
Trailhead Elevation6,306ft
Elevation Min/Max6306/6643ft
Elevation Start/End6306/6306ft

Clingmans Dome Trail

Clingmans Dome Trail is a hiking trail in North Carolina and Tennessee. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is 0.6 miles long and begins at 6,306 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 340 feet. The Clingmans Dome Information Center And Book Store information office is near the trailhead. There are also parking and restroom. The trail ends near Clingmans Dome. There is also a viewpoint near the end of the trail. This trail connects with the following: Clingmans Dome Lookout Tower Access and Forney Ridge Trail.

Clingmans Dome Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"Highpoint rank by height: 17th. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular of all the National Parks. Combine this with the busy areas of nearby Pigeon Forge, TN and Gatlinburg, TN, and you'll find some extremely heavy, slow traffic! If possible, plan to head for Clingmans Dome on a weekday, and start early to avoid the heaviest traffic, both on the local highways and inside the park itself.

The entire path from the parking area is a wide, paved trail. Although fairly steep, an electric wheelchair or a standard wheelchair with someone to assist would make it feasible for access to the top of the peak and observation tower. We observed numerous strollers being pushed up and down the trail on the day we visited (but didn't see any wheelchairs). Be sure to bring your camera on this one!"

"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."

Clingmans Dome Trail Reviews

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At this time of the year you must travel 7 miles on a snow covered asphalt road to get to Clingman's Dome. Then go up a pretty steep 1/2 mile to get to the lookout tower. The view there is pretty awesome, but its quite a chore for the 7 1/2 miles getting there.

Trail Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nearby City
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Hiking, Cross Country Skiing
Additional Use
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 865-436-1200,
Local Contacts
Great Smoky Mountains National Park map; Trails Illustrated #229 Great Smoky Mountains National Park; USGS Clingmans Dome and USGS Silers Bald
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018