Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

MODERATE 361 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
311 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.

walking
1 month ago

My husband proposed to me up here!!

hiking
2 months ago

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

2 months ago

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

2 months ago

Dome outlook is under construction.

hiking
3 months ago

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

3 months ago

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

hiking
3 months ago

views and altitude were wonderful.

hiking
3 months 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.

3 months 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.

3 months ago

Very pretty. All uphill. Sunset is breathtaking.

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty but observation tower is closed for renovations.

hiking
4 months ago

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

hiking
4 months ago

Very steep. View was worth it though.

hiking
4 months ago

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

hiking
4 months 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.

hiking
4 months ago

Perfect morning, great views. I provided Pics.

hiking
5 months 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
5 months ago

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

hiking
5 months ago

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

hiking
5 months 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

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