Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome Trail

HARD 39 reviews

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 offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until December.

14.9 miles
3,841 feet
Out & Back

wheelchair friendly



nature trips

trail running





wild flowers





old growth



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

1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

6 months ago

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.

8 months ago

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.

11 months ago

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!

Sunday, July 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
Thursday, July 06, 2017


Thursday, June 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!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

We parked our car at Newfound gap and took the AT trail up to Clingmans Dome. It was a beautiful hike with a lot of scenery, but not a lot of overlooks. There was beautiful forest views. Since the road was closed, we had Clingmans Dome to ourselves which was incredible. I'd recommend a trekking pole. We took the road back, and that's when our feet started to hurt from the pavement. However, there were a lot more mountain views than the trail. Being from Missouri, the 15/16 miles was a little tough, but not terrible at all. Definitely recommended when the road is closed. If we come again, we would go up the AT trail and down the road. Some parts of the AT trail would be hard to go down, even with a trekking pole.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Did the 8 mile hike today from Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap and it was gorgeous! Very misty, very cool and very wet up at Clingmans, so if you go be sure to wear appropriate shoes and dress accordingly. Trekking poles recommended. You don't get panoramic views of the mountains with this one, but the AT makes up for it with various wildflowers, gorgeous woodlands and ripe blackberries. :)

Monday, July 04, 2016

be sure to go on a clear day.. overcast see nothing at peak

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

We hiked from Newfound Gap to Double Spring Gap Shelter then back to Clingmans Dome. This was a real test for a couple of weekend hikers from Indiana. But there is something special about being on the AT. Whoever listed this trail as easy must be of Kryptonian origins.

Friday, August 07, 2015

We began this hike on the AT just down from the Clingman's Dome observation tower with our targeted destination at Newfound Gap, having left a couple of cars at Newfound to get us back to Clingmans. Total distance was just short of 8 miles, including the piece from Clingman parking to get on the AT. This is a good little walk providing a chance to see some old growth timber, some great views (although limited in summer) and interesting plant life. No wildlife spotted. Amazing how cool it is at these elevations so it's a great walk for the dog day heat of July/Aug. Trail was in great condition. Overall a nice little day hike.

Monday, May 25, 2015

From parking lot walk towards Dome path and the trail will be on your left. You will go down and around and up a creek bed to meet up with the Appalachian trail. The old growth forest is spectacular. I hiked 4 miles out and then came back since I was just hiking the day. Points of high elevation and fantastic views. I felt like I was in the clouds. Was my best hiking experience so far. Cannot wait to hike more of the Appalachian trail. Worth your time!

scenic driving
Monday, November 11, 2013

When I did this adventure, the roads and paved trail were completely choked with traffic. Leaving Cherokee, I went through congestion and many people. Near the Clingman's Dome parking, there was a continuous traffic jam with people parked along the road. The trail looked like it was supposed to be in an amusement park! Very busy. But... I am not surprised. On a great fall weekend like this, the Smokies are bound to get busy. At the top of the dome, the views were SPECTACULAR, with panoramic vistas all around. Taking the bypass trail back, it was nearly devoid of people! Then, I drove to Gatlinburg and faced even more rush hour traffic. I also found a wreck off Clingman's Dome Road. A car careened off the bank while another one smashed into the cliff. Is it a testimony that safe driving certainly makes a difference.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Really a nice trail. You drive up to trail head and park. There are two ways to the dome. One is to use the paved trail.....the other is to hike up to dome. Hiking on the trail is a bit farther but if you like roughing it then it is for you. Both are steep but totally do-able. Great views on clear days and is usually quite a bit cooler at the dome. Take a jacket.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I just completed this hike my first. Outstanding but very demanding. 16 miles in 1 day I found was to much, recommend more than 1 day to complete. The trail was in good shape, and Spenser field shelter was a good shelter. Hike off the 2nd day to Cade's cove very nice hike.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Take the side trail up to Clingman's Dome, its the only way! Avoids the crowds and concrete of the popular trail. The Trailhead is right to the left of the Clingman's trailhead. You wind and go down for a bit, the stay to the right. It is a little bit longer than the paved trail but totally worth it. It meets up on a ridge to the Appalachian Trail, the views are amazing if its a clear day. Take a right at the 'T' and head the rest of the way up to the Dome overlook tower, about another quarter-mile. Now you know my secret trail.

scenic driving
Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Awesome scenery! This time of year, (late April) you can literly drive up through the seasons.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Trail was in good condition and would have been much more enjoyable if I could have seen anything...the fog had taken over the mountain by the time we reached the dome

scenic driving
Sunday, January 01, 2012

A good and scenic way to get to Cherokee, NC. Lots of great trails along the way, whether you are looking for a day long hike, an overnight back packing trip, or just a quick stroll through the woods.

scenic driving
Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I loved the scenery. Unfortunately, I had entirely too much time to enjoy it! If you want to really enjoy this park, go in the off-season! The traffic was heavy anyway, but the road construction, which seems to be ever-present, just moving locations, made this torture. Even the visitor center and parking was under construction. I have to go back to really enjoy the park, which has great views, forests, streams, etc.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This was a really fun trip

Friday, August 13, 2010

The drive up is wonderful! The walk up to the dome is difficult, but worth it.

15 days ago

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