Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

MODERATE 355 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.

4 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

Great views if weather permits. Currently the top is under construction. Worth it if you’re in the area.

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

19 days ago

Oct 27,2017 beautiful sunny day however disappointing because the observation tower is closed until 2018 season

hiking
23 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

24 days ago

Dome outlook is under construction.

hiking
27 days ago

Awesome place to catch some amazing views. The tower was closed while we were here.

28 days ago

Watched the sunrise here one time and I will never forget it. Highest point in Tennessee.

hiking
28 days ago

views and altitude were wonderful.

walking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

When we got there it was rainy and muggy but as the day went on it cleared up some. It was still freezing most of the day, and the trail was quite hard for just being .5 mike. Unfortunately when we got up there the observation tower had been closed for repairs, but it would have been too cloudy to see anything anyway. It was relatively crowded for being such a cold rainy day, but once you get on trails near clingman’s dome, it gets better. The real highlight of this trip is by far the sunset though. We were right at the level of the clouds and could see the lake. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, and well worth all the fuss we went through that day.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Beautiful views! Even with the tower being closed right now, the views are amazing. It is much cooler than at lower elevations so be sure to bring a jacket.