Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome Trail

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome Trail is a 14.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bryson City, North Carolina that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from April until November.

Distance: 14.9 miles Elevation Gain: 3,841 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

no dogs

This section of the AT offers many views as well as a diverse geology Your hike begins at the highest peak on the AT, Clingmans Dome at 6643' but don't think it's all down hill from here.Over the 16.4 mi we'll call it GaK (Gaps and Knobs) RollerCoaster, you'll encounter 7 gaps, 4 knobs and 3 mountains.Head up the paved trail to the overlook.Go south on the AT for 4.6 mi until you reach Silers Bald Shelter for a lunch break.There is a sign at Buckeye Gap stating 1.8mi to Derrick Knob but it's more like 2.8mi until you reach the shelter for Day 1 of 10.6mi.The next 6.2mi is the most remote section of the AT in the GSMNP.4.1mi you will reach Beechnut Gap the last of these and welcome sight of switchbacks that will help you climb Thunderhead Mtn.First peak is marked by a benchmark and a stack of stones elevate you for a view.Then down to the third peak so obviously named Rocky Top, great lunch spot.1.1mi you will enter Spence Field and intersect with Bote Mtn Trail then to Anthony Creek Trail to Cades Cove Ranger Station for 11.5 mi on Day 2

The Smokies were being very “smoky” today. So there were no views at the top, but along the way we saw deer, birds, a flying squirrel, and many beautiful rocks and trees. Overall fantastic hike, would’ve been the best of my life if the sky was clear.

hiking
blowdown
rocky
11 days ago

I completed the trek from Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome two days ago. I started with my pack and all of my camping gear until I reached Mt. Collins Campsite where I left everything except a small daypack and then continued to Clingmans Dome. The hike had some strenuous portions and many ups and downs, but ultimately was a great hike. There wasn’t any scrambling involved or any particularly difficult sections. The trail was mostly empty and the views at the top were incredible!! There wasn’t any visible air pollution so I was able to see all of the views far out. This was a very satisfying hike and I loved it!!

hiking
13 days ago

Amazing views! Definitely do it. The pictures I took don’t do it any justice.

hiking
1 month ago

Long hike. Got breezy & a bit cooler the closer we got to the top. Fabulous view. Saw a baby cub on way back down!

AT white blazed out and yellow blazed back but this section of AT is absolutely amazing. We had to make time due to a prior engagement so stuck road running back. Highly recommend this section and it’s all relatively easy. A few climbs but manageable. I clocked the distance closer to 8 miles which would put the out and back over 15 miles but this is a great hike.

icy
rocky
3 months ago

this was so much fun! watch for lots of ice early in the morning and the portion right before the observation tower is extremely rocky. all in all I really enjoyed it and it shows you everything the park has to offer. plus you go through a rare Beech forest.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
washed out
4 months ago

I hiked this the same way the last reviewer did. I used the AT from Newfound Gap to Clingman’s Dome and then walked the Clingman’s Dome access road back to Newfound Gap. The whole hike, including the time spent at the viewing tower was a little over six hours. I thought the trail was in pretty good shape, relative to other sections of the AT. Even in winter the views from the trail aren’t that great. Pacing is the key to climbing Clingman, just slow down, focus on your footing and it’s relatively easy. Walking back on the access road in winter is the way to go. I didn’t see a car or another hiker the whole way and the views were spectacular. If your feet are sensitive to walking on the road, there is enough shoulder on the side of the road so that you can walk in the grass.

Newfound Gap to Clinghams dome on AT then return via closed park road. For those who prefer not to hear traffic while hiking, consider doing this trail section during the winter closure(maybe Thanksgiving to March or April). No clear sky, lots of wind and blowing fog, old snow in places. Saw no one except at Gap.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice trail, we maintained. most of the trail is very close to the expressway, when I hike I rather not hear trucks, motorcycles and cars. I've already been to the top a few times, so I already know what to expect, but if I didn't, i would of been disappointed. It is a tourist attraction, so most people drive to the top, making it very crowded.

hiking
8 months ago

You better be ready to put in work in you do this in the middle of June.... Contemplated hitchhiking back down but roughed it out for a rewarding hike in the middle of summer.

hiking
8 months ago

This is a challenging out and back hike on the section of the AT between Newfound Gap road and Clingman's Dome. The trail goes through dense forests, has a good surface, and is well maintained. The trail switches between ascending and descending which gives frequent, welcome breaks. The views at Clingman's Dome are great although rhe crowds remind you that one can also drive to the Dome. And that's the only negative: the trail runs parallel to rhe road and is close enough at times to hear the traffic.

hiking
muddy
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
Wed Feb 20 2019

Hiked it on Feb 19 under cloudy skies that eventually dropped sleet and snow. Steady snow by the end but I was fortunate to get past the icy spots before the snow obscured them. Did it without traction devices or trekking poles but I would recommend having micro spikes along just in case. Snow plow went down the highway to the east as I finished so the trip down was stress free. The gate at the bottom of the hill was closed due to the weather but a ranger opened it for us and a few other cars shortly after we stopped. Very nice hike and grand views from the Dome tower. Did not see another hiker during the entire hike but did have a great convo at the top with a NPS maintenance employee.

hiking
Wed Feb 20 2019

Good trail but fairly rugged and difficult. Part of this may be due to rain the day and night before and the “still” water was beginning to freeze. Lots of rocks, roots, mud, water and elevation change with just enough ice to make it interesting. I was wanting to run the trail but most of it was too much for this old man to run. My trail running shoes don’t do well in ice. Despite the description I do not believe there is a river anywhere near the trail.

Mon Oct 01 2018

Loved this hike!!!

hiking
Fri Jun 08 2018

Okay, lets first start by saying there are a number of inconsistencies in the tags and descriptions on this listing. First off, hopefully no one believes that all 14.9 miles is wheelchair accessible. That said, the last 1/4mile or so up the observation tower is probably wheelchair accessible. Also, it's worth noting that if you drive up to the visitor's center and then walk the 1/2mile to the top (separate listing on this site), there is a sign that says it's NOT ADA compliant (due to steepness), so keep that in mind. It's a hard go even when you're not pushing a wheelchair up it! Secondly, it states it features a river, but I guess they're just referencing the river that the road follows on your drive into GSMNP from Cherokee, NC. There is no river feature on the actual trail. As for the trail itself, it's a pretty typical S. Appalachian trail...navigating rocks and roots are all part of the game. Well-marked and easy to navigate. If you're day-hiking this one, I suggest cutting off 3.4miles (RT) by starting at the Indian Gap Road/Road Prong Trail Trailhead. You'll miss the Beech Tree Extainment area, which is really just a fenced area with some pretty trees, and some superfluous up-and-down hills. Which, by the way are not really that bad as other users suggest. It gives your knees and legs a break from doing the SAME thing for 8 miles up and then a DIFFERENT thing for 8 miles down.

backpacking
Sun Jun 03 2018

I would recommend this as a shuttle hike or key swap. Even our seasoned hikers did not like all the steep climbs. Despite being just 8 miles one way, this is a moderate hike. Lovely thick forest floor and fun to meet some AT thru hikers. If you have bad knees, you will need your hiking poles and compression wraps.

hiking
Tue Jan 16 2018

Clingman's dome winter hike has been a long awaited bucket list hike and it was certainly a challenge. The trail resembled a frozen creek bed. Ice was extensive and thick through nearly every step. I brought poles but did not bring crampons. The path gives way to the ridge line and the inclines are steep and are all the more slow and treacherous covered in ice. There are no views on the AT until you reach the dome which was surprising since the bare trees didn't reveal more of the surrounding area. However, having the dome all to myself made it completely worth the trouble. I shouted into the wind in triumph on the highest point in the park with blissful solitude. Taking Dome Rd back to NFG due to time constraints, I was treated to more views of the North Carolina mountains. If you are interested in this unique winter hike poles and crampons are highly recommended. Be sure to call park services for information regarding road closures. There was no information on the website that NFG rd was closed and fortunately opened late at 11:00am. This is a long hike and daylight was a concern because of the late start.

hiking
Mon Nov 06 2017

Hiked from NFG overlook to the Dome. Tuff 15 miler. I’ve hiked all 6 ways to get up to Mt LeConte and i think it’s harder. This part of the AT doesn’t have a lot of wide switch backs like the LeConte trails. So even though the elevation change and length mite b less the way is harder. Plus it’s not just up. Many places u lose the elevation gain by plunging down a Ridge and then fight ur way back up. So.........even going back down u have challenging ups. But the beauty is well worth it. Mayb not many vistas but as one reviewer stated, it a magical forest.

Sun Jul 23 2017

Dont let this trail fool ya! Went down from Clingmans to NFG.. 9 miles. Up and down the whole way.. not easy!! But you can do it!

Sun Jul 16 2017

Wow am I tired. The serenity of this hike will stay with me a long time. Hard hike for a couple reasons, the terrain was rocky and rooty so you had to take your time, and the elevation changes were challenging and constant. It was so cool because it was like being in an enchanted forest that was there for you alone. MUST HIKE THIS TRAIL.

scenic driving
Thu Jul 06 2017

Good

hiking
Thu Jun 22 2017

The trail was hard, especially the decent from Cliingmans Dome. Not many views, heavy canopy most of the trip. Definitely a good trip to gauge whether a person is ready to hike the AT!

Sat May 27 2017

It was a fairly good hike, but there's not much to see, except Clingman's Dome.

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