Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

MODERATE 265 reviews

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is a 1.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bryson City, North Carolina 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.

1.3 miles
334 feet
Out & Back

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers



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.

32 minutes ago

3 hours ago

It was a great hike! Went from 75 degrees at the bottom of the mountain to lower 50s at the top of the dome - so bring a long sleeve! It was extremely cloudy when we went so we couldn't see a thing at the top, but still a great hike and a good workout!

4 days ago

6 days ago

Nice hike to top, mostly paved trail

6 days ago

It's just a straight uphill pavement road to the top. There's a gift store near.

6 days ago

Beautiful views.. short hike.. that was perfect for our kids!

7 days ago

8 days ago

Beautiful. Go early and it's not crowded

12 days ago

Great hike and amazing views. Once you get close to the dome, it get pretty steeps and I would classify it as difficult at that point.

13 days ago

14 days ago

It's basically a parking lot and a long, steep, paved road to the top. great views though.

16 days ago

17 days ago

incline is a bit steep but at the top instead of coming back down try taking the detour path on the Appalachian trail back to parking. beautiful scenery that way

18 days ago

.5 mile straight up on around a 13% grade. Well worth the walk up!!

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