Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

EASY 972 reviews

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is a 1.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bryson City, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until November.

Distance: 1.2 miles Elevation Gain: 331 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

paved

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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 day ago

Great short trail for most of the family. only difficulty is how steep it is. As long as you are able to walk a steep paved incline it's great.

hiking
4 days ago

Steep- it may say .5 mile one way but it’s tough to the top. Wear the right shoes, take your time. Oh and it’s super crowded. But great views from the top.

hiking
4 days ago

The trail is paved and very accessable but does have a decent uphill climb. The views from the tower and along the way are incredible! You won't find a better place to catch a sunset in the Smokies but it can get crowded for them. You can also get on the Appalachian Trail from this point. Wonderful family trail!!

hiking
no shade
4 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

Greatest view in the smokies. Really nice on a hot sunny day

hiking
9 days ago

Very simply walk on a paved walkway. Part of this hike overlaps with the AT. Cool observation platform.

hiking
9 days ago

Paved and steep, but well worth the views. We drove by the trailhead on a foggy day, so decided to return on a clear day. Amazing views!!!! We took a part of the Appalachian Trail from the top and hooked up with the bypass trail that led back to the parking area. Steep, wet downhill, but much more rewarding as it was away from the crowds. A must do!

hiking
10 days ago

Great view. Get there early, we got to the trailhead around 8am and it was pretty busy.

hiking
15 days ago

As others have said, the trail is paved and uphill...which actually made it seem more intense than longer and steeper hikes in the area. Worth the short trek though because views at the top are amazing! It is super crowded though.

hiking
16 days ago

Great view. Highly trafficked. I recommend the bypass loop. Slightly more difficult but worth some of the views along the ridge. Definitely a place to stop and see while venturing the Smokies.

hiking
17 days ago

Not as “easy” as many anticipate, especially in hot weather. Strollers & wheelchairs are not allowed. Take water along & prepare for a fog/cloud shrouded view at the top. One of the most amazing phenomena is the rapidly moving clouds that give the Smokies their name. I have done it 3 times and haven’t had a clear view yet!

hiking
17 days ago

Amazing views! We were there on a clear day and the views were breathtaking. A ton of traffic to get there and very crowded though. You can park along the road however there were some spots open at the top. Bathrooms there (long lines). Worth the trip! You can take dogs to the parking lot but not the .6 mile hike up the paved path to the observation tower. The hike up is strenuous especially if you don’t work out a lot but they have benches you can sit down along the way. It is a very steep hill. The road leads right to the parking lot for the tower. They also have some loop trail heads up there and they have a little ranger station with maps, souvenirs and some water.

hiking
19 days ago

Tough and fun paved trail very rewarding views

hiking
19 days ago

Magnificent. Made it up on a clear morning and the views were amazing. The path is paved but take your time at first... the elevation can affect you more than you'd expect. ARRIVE BEFORE 9 or 9:30 if you want to get parking... this place gets packed.

hiking
28 days ago

Small but steep hike on a concrete pavement. Pretty easily doable. Amazing views from Clingmans done observation tower.

hiking
28 days ago

Great little hike up to fabulous view. It is a steady incline but I saw all levels of fitness do this hike.

29 days ago

Short but steep and beautiful

hiking
1 month ago

.5 mile of incline at 6600 ft easy walk but many people out of breathe at the top. tougher than easy if not used to evevations.

hiking
1 month ago

great views but very steep incline. this is a moderate trail really but gets easy rating because of paving and a bench every 0.1-0.2 miles. straight up going in and straight down coming out. lots of traffic. but great views at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Car camped in parking lot or as i called it base camp. Dress in layers did it middle of August had 3 layers of clothes on still a bit chilly. Short intense hill hike that is so worth it. Caught a great sunset from parking lot then a beautiful sunrise at Clingmans Dome . Probably about 20 people there for sunrise. Passed a parade of cars as we where leaving .Our timing was perfect .

hiking
1 month ago

This is simply a paved walkway with a major incline that is totally worth the view. I’d recommend sneakers.

hiking
1 month ago

Get there early, less traffic. Great view!!

hiking
1 month ago

Fun Easy hike. Beautiful floral scenery right off the path. when the clouds aren't there you can see for miles. Definitely a stop everyone should make every couple of years.

hiking
1 month ago

Get there before 10 or it will be too packed to do anything. Good view but if it is overcast you won’t see anything

The view is worth it. It’s a paved "road," but that view is...

hiking
1 month ago

Don’t underestimate the hike. The elevation is about 6644 ft so if you’re not used to it, you will need to take a few short breaks. It’s all an incline but when we went the weather was really nice and cool. It’s definitely worth it! The views you get are priceless!

This is a great short hike with a lot of incline at the beginning. Course if you got inclined to beginning then that means you have declined at the camp so be ready for a long walk down. The home often covers a lot of fog so you may not get the view you want

hiking
1 month ago

Great workout! Did not anticipate what the change in elevation does but slowed down and took our time. I was a bit cocky at first truckin past everyone. I was quickly reminded that I am not used to the elevation changes haha. We live about an hour away and it was sunny when we checked the weather, but by the time we arrived, it was pouring rain. So we didn't get that great of a view but it was still amazing. Will definitely return for a better view.

hiking
1 month ago

Tougher than easy but very crowded. Parking can be difficult to find. However it’s the highest point in the Smokies so worth checking out.

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