Clingmans Dome rises to 6643 feet as the tallest peak in the Smokey Mountains and the third highest east of the Mississippi River. At Newfound Gap off of 441, the parking lot will be the end of this road that meanders across the mountain for 7 miles. This drive in itself offers breathtaking views and it is not uncommon to see wildlife. On my most recent trip, I spied a turkey that was pecking away at the earth on the roadside.
The dome rises 54 feet above the mountaintop and allows for 360 degrees of viewing. Additionally, the Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome and it is not uncommon to come across a northbound or southbound through hiker walking to complete the 2180 mile journey between Springer Mountain Georgia and Katahdin Maine.
The weather can be drastically different from where you begin your day, so it is always best to check a forecast specifically for this area. The weather can close access to the park so pick optimal conditions when you go. While bears do inhabit the area, I have not seen one. There are videos and stories to show they are in the area. The park service wants you to follow good wildlife safety and never feed or interact to closely with animals. Always give them their distance for theirs and your safety. I personally recommend that you keep food stuff securely stored and keep vehicle windows and doors closed. Also use trash cans supplied at the park. A bear is a master of break ins and if he/she can exploit a weakness, it will be a meal for them instead of you. However, bears are a relatively low possibility to see. Travel to nearby Cades Cove if you are bear watching for your best chances.
The paved path is a wonderful access to the dome. However, this is about a 13% grade and at nearly a mile in altitude, it can be taxing at .5 mile in length. It’s is not hard, but any hiker or visitor should consider their limitations. There are many benches along the way, so remember, its not a race but a journey to the top….. and well worth the time.
For the seasoned hiker or just someone who wants to stick their head in the forest, dont overlook that there are several trails that start on Clingmans dome. If you venture on a trail, consider planning with hiking essentials so an adventure does not turn into a bad event. All roads lead to the “wild” and the forest quickly turns to the wilderness as you enter.
Clingmans Dome has a visitors center with seasonal hours that will educate you on your visit, provides restrooms and a small store. The road to to the park closes December 1 to April 1, so plan accordingly.
We recently completed a trip to this park and are pleased to share it with you. Be sure to click on the image below to view our YouTube video and don’t forget to comment and SUBSCRIBE to our channel:
Link: Clingmans Dome Hike
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the adventures,
Additional Trip Photos: