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.
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.
Only view is fog
Fun, short and steep trail to a lookout tower with an amazing 360 degree view from the highest point in the Smokies. The views on the way up from the parking lot are wonderful too!
Compared to the step hike up chimney top, this was nothing. Still, it's straight uphill and got my heart rate going.
The views at the observation tower are beautiful, but there are far too many people for this to be truly enjoyable. I prefer my hikes even a little more peaceful.
Worth doing at least once.
Small but steep. Will be worth the effort. Few people know this, but this is one of the perfect location for Star Gazing in the night. We went there at around 1:00 AM in the night. It was worth it, with minimum light pollution the eye of the Milky-way was visible to the naked eye.
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.
Tough walk but worthwhile. Observation tower view was awesome.
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.
Short, steep hike.
Very easy hike with a great view!
short, steep and well worth the hike for the awesome views.
Short trail but a very steep climb
this is a paved path. my wife and I hakied up and it was a great view.
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.
We loved this hike !!!
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
Awesome views !!!!! Well maintained trail, it is a bit steep but there are benches available if rest is needed. Love this trail
Its ok, but it is a steady incline to the dome ramp. Foggy that day so not much view, much nicer walking down