Clingman’s Dome

, TN
Length: 1.00 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

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The highest point in both the Great Smoky Mountains and the entirety of the Appalachian Trail, Clingman’s Dome is a heavily trafficked, steep, paved trail to an observatory with a 360 degree view of the Smokies.

The trail begins at the Clingman’s Dome visitor’s center. Stop here and talk to the rangers if you like, then head up the wide, paved path for a short but strenuous 332 foot gain over half a mile. Due to the steepness of this trail, there are benches every tenth of a mile, and while it’s paved, the NPS recommends against strollers and wheelchairs.

The trail ends in a curved ramp to an observation tower that is usually crowded, but affords incredible views of the National Park.

Retrace your steps to return to the car.

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Trail Features

Surface type Paved
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms No
Cell reception Spotty
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Viewpoint and Visitor Center

The viewpoint at the top offers 360 degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Although it is very common for the summit to be encased in fog, on clear days the National Park Service claims views extend up to 100 miles from the observation tower.

The road leading to the parking lot is closed December-March, or if there is snow and ice outside of these months that make it impassable. If the road is closed, there is a 7 mile hike from the Newfound Gap parking lot that will still reach the summit, but is too far a distance to be kid-friendly. Call (865) 436-1200 to double check for road closures prior to planning your trip.

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $0.00

This is an extremely popular trail, and there are several other trails that connect at Clingmans Dome. As such, the parking lot is large and crowded, and is frequently full.

Trail Contributor

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I am the Branch Ambassador for Hike It Baby Chattanooga. A native of Richmond, VA, I spent most of my adolescence and early adulthood hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and once my children were born started taking them on adventures with me! I am a portrait photographer and freelance writer, trying to hike my way through all the trails southeastern Tennessee has to offer.


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