Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

MODERATE 317 reviews

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is a 1.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November.

DISTANCE
1.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
334 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

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
4 days ago

We hiked this on 8/8 ,we arrived early at 9 am and glad we did it gets very crowded by later in the morning. It was misting rain so we could not see anything at the top but it was an awesome hike.

hiking
4 days ago

Don't use the paved road take the Application Trail up and back down.

hiking
7 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

Short hike but good view when you get to top. Steep half mile hike

hiking
10 days ago

Nice path need a lot of resting spots going up on this one gives your legs a real nice workout enjoy the beautiful views i'd like to get back up there again one day

hiking
10 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

This hike is a very short hike but you gain elevation the whole way to the top. My boyfriend and I are active and work out almost every single day and hike often so it was no problem for us. We decided to do the "power through" method and quickly make ourselves get to the top without stopping. Many others stopped. Whatever gets you to the top!
This is a more touristy hike and more people frequent it but the views are magnificent.

hiking
11 days ago

This is not a long hike but the quick elevation at the beginning really got us. We used the execuse that we did this trail after another 5 mile hike....did it in the middle of the day but bet the sunset or sunrise would be beautiful

12 days ago

Great paved hike. Kids 6 and 8 did it with a few whines but never an issue. Circle walkway to the top was great fun for them.

hiking
13 days ago

Of course one must do Clingman's Dome when visiting GSMNP. We did the hike day 1 and it was clouded in. Returned day 2 and it was clear. It's heavily visited and I couldn't believe there were people smoking while making the climb. I just find the tower a real eyesore. Still the views are spectacular so 4 stars.

13 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

Beautiful drive. We went at sunset and during the day. Both times beautiful. Make sure to wear a light jacket.

walking
18 days ago

I did the clingmans done in may with my husband for a sunset and it was the most beautiful views and sights. Very cold and very very windy. It was about 30 degrees and had 40 mile per hour winds but breathtaking

hiking
22 days ago

great drive and a beautiful view from the dome wish I had more time to hike up from the overlook.

walking
22 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

This is more of a tourist stop than a hike. The trail is paved all the way up with 5 or 6 benches to sit on along the way. As the elevation is much higher than Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge (where we were staying for the week) - it was extremely chilly and windy so be prepared to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt for the trip up even in the middle of summer.

We wanted to arrive early to beat the crowds and before the clouds burned off from the heat of the sun.
The issue was that we ourselves were inside of a cloud 75% of the time so visibility wasn't too great for us, but a break in the clouds allowed for a decent photo every now and then.

The Scenery was the best we have seen so far.

24 days ago

Great hike

25 days ago

hiking
26 days ago