Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

MODERATE 163 reviews

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is a 1.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bryson City, NC that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from April until November.

1.3 miles 311 feet Out & Back

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360 views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top. On clear days views expand over a 100 miles. Unfortunately, air pollution often limits viewing distances to under 20 miles. Clouds, precipitation, and cold temperatures are common at Clingmans Dome. Temperatures at the dome can be 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. In fact, the cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make the spruce-fir forest that grows there a coniferous rainforest. Proper preparation is essential for a good visit. Dress in layers and be sure to bring a jacket, even in summer. Although Clingmans Dome is open year-round, the road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31, and whenever weather conditions require. It's seven miles to the end of Clingmans Dome Road and there are scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys along the way. The road ends in a large parking area from which a 0.5 mile trail leads to the summit. The trail is paved but steep, and leads to an observation tower on top. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on the paved trail to the observation tower, or on any other trails in the area. A bike rack is located near the beginning of the paved trail to park bikes while walking to the top. You will need to bring a lock with you to secure your bike. Besides the trail to the summit, there are several trails that start on Clingmans Dome Road and parking area. The Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its journey from Georgia to Maine. The Forney Ridge Trail leads to Andrews Bald, a high-elevation grassy bald.

hiking
8 minutes ago

Trail was in mint condition being its paved. Steep climb for us "flat-landers", but totally worth it. Got there early enough to catch the smoke on the south side by lake Fontana. The 360 degree view is exceptional. Earlier in the morning is better. Heavily heavily trafficked trail.

hiking
5 days ago

Tough walk but worthwhile. Observation tower view was awesome.

hiking
10 days ago

Strenuous 15-20 minutes to get to the top. Funny how people get frustrated at their 3 year old kids for having trouble hiking themselves up the trail. Smh... Plan on carrying them most of the way. The views are well worth the efforts.

13 days ago

Short, steep hike.

14 days ago

hiking
16 days ago

Very easy hike with a great view!

hiking
17 days ago

short, steep and well worth the hike for the awesome views.

18 days ago

Short trail but a very steep climb

hiking
27 days ago

this is a paved path. my wife and I hakied up and it was a great view.

hiking
1 month ago

Great view! Nice elevated walk up. Although I did see one uninformed person in platform shoes, she was, needless to say, struggling. Lots of people, but ample amount of parking.

1 month ago

We loved this hike !!!

1 month ago

I remember doing this as a kids but when we got to the top, it clouded over & I couldn't see a thing, still have yet to get back after 40 years to see the view I was denied, sure my rating would go up then

1 month ago

Awesome views !!!!! Well maintained trail, it is a bit steep but there are benches available if rest is needed. Love this trail

1 month ago

walking
1 month ago

Its ok, but it is a steady incline to the dome ramp. Foggy that day so not much view, much nicer walking down

1 month ago

Very well kept and well maintained. There are bathroom facilities at the bottom as well as plenty of parking. The path is paved, but it's 0.5 miles straight up and down. There were a lot of little benches and such for breaks, as well as places to sit once you reached the top. The views from the top are spectacular on a clear day, and you can't see your hand in front of you the next day. It's definitely a nice little hike.

2 months ago

We didn't walk the whole trail, rather the 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot at Clingmans to the observation deck. Moderate incline, but plenty of areas to stop and sit or rest if you need to. Gorgeous views. Very busy in July when we went. Store and bathrooms at bottom of Hill. Great little walk

walking
2 months ago

It was busy, but the view from the dome is beautiful.

2 months ago

I'm not in great shape, but I made it pretty easily. My wife has asthma and took more rest stops (there are 6 benches in about .5 miles). My kids compatibles a lot! It's a paved trail and I saw lots of people in far worse shape than me making it! A lot of people asking "how much further" as we were in our way back and they were still headed out! It is a beautiful view with markers showing what you are seeing in the distance on both sides of the state line.

2 months ago

it is the touristy popular just a 1.2 mile hike. all paved for non hikers, it climbs so the non hiker can get a work out, but way too popular and crowded. some things to re member it's about 15 degrees cooler here than other park places, typically a wind and 60 even if 80 in near by towns. and be sure a clear day is on the list otherwise you will not see much... parking xan be a pain. it's one of the must do but not a hikers journey or top pick.