|Distance||1 mile roundtrip|
|Terrain||Strenuous climbing, 300 feet of elevation gain|
|Best Seasons||Spring, Summer, Fall|
- Excellent views from the observation tower
- Summitting the highest mountain in Tennessee
Clingmans Dome is both the highest point in the state of Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Much like the South Carolina highpoint, this mountain straddles the border with North Carolina. Rising 6643 feet above sea level, it's also the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. If you are lucky enough to visit on a clear day, you'll enjoy the kind of panoramic views only available on a few mountains in this region.
Don't get your hopes up for those views in this national park named for the persistent clouds and haze hovering over the mountains. Though it may be completely sunny wherever you start your day, you'll be surprised to see how the weather drastically changes as your elevation increases. The climate here is more similar to that of Seattle than of other closer cities in the South, and misty fog and light drizzles are frequent -- bring a rain jacket. Don't fret, even if the summit views are blocked by clouds, there will be pullouts along U.S. Highway 441 or Blue Ridge Parkway that you will you take here that should provide the stunning views of the Smokies you've been dreaming of.
Dogs are prohibited on this trail and the surrounding trails. The trail is too steep to be wheelchair accessible, despite being entirely paved. Short but steep, the trail to the summit is done by many families, and there are plenty of benches and places to stop on the way up. Clingmans Dome Road is closed during the winter, approximately December through April; however, the summit is open all year, you'll just have to hike at least 14 miles roundtrip in the winter. Expect it to be crowded no matter when you visit -- Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, and this is one of the highlights of the park.
From Asheville, take Interstate 40 west. Take the exit for U.S. Highway 74 and continue straight. Make a slight right onto U.S. Highway 19. After passing through Maggie Valley, turn right to take the exit for Blue Ridge Parkway, then turn left. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 441, and eventually you will turn onto Clingmans Dome Road, which ends at the parking lot.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few national parks that do not charge an entrance fee. There is a visitor center with restrooms and information near the lot.
Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia
Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina