Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

MODERATE 334 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
1 hour ago

Pretty but observation tower is closed for renovations.

hiking
4 days ago

Clear day and nice views when you're clear of trees. Beware though -- the observation tower itself is now closed for maintenance.

hiking
5 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

Very steep. View was worth it though.

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10 days ago

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16 days ago

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19 days ago

Very foggy, rainy day when we went but still a fun trail.

20 days ago

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24 days ago

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29 days ago

The view is hard to beat. I think taking the AT up is probably the way to go. Rather than the paved and heavily trafficked pedestrian trail. Add this on top of the Andrews Bald hike from the same trailhead for a nice 1/2 jaunt with lots of views/payoff.

29 days ago

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29 days ago

1 month ago

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1 month ago

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1 month ago

Perfect morning, great views. I provided Pics.

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1 month ago

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1 month ago

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1 month ago

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1 month 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
1 month ago

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