Clingmans Dome seen from Appalachian Trail
Clingman's Dome is the highest mountain in Tennessee, and the highest mountain in the Smoky Mountains. Mt. Collins is an insignificant hill just north of Clingman's Dome
The mountain is accessible through a number of trails, all long hikes. If you're not into hiking, you can drive nearly all the way up to Clingman's Dome from the Newfound Gap pass on US 441. You need to walk 0,5 mile from the parking to the lookout tower.
Popular trails to Clingman's dome are; Sugarland Mountain trail, Appalachian Trail, Forney Ridge trail, Forney Creek trail, Noland trail, Fork Ridge trail and Road Prong trail. This page will describe the Appalachian trail from Newfound Gap.
US highway 441; Newfound Gap - Clingman's Dome on Appalachian trail (summer)
Trip report Apr 22 2002:
The alarm was set to 06:00AM. I was eager to do Clingman's Dome.
I woke up 5:50AM by the only noise that would raise above an old
fashioned air-conditioner. American rain. Fascinating to see how
the rain bounces back up again, after hitting the ground. But this
wasn't the plan. It was supposed to be a sunny day.
So I changed planes. I decided to drive to North Carolina. If I was lucky, I could do Mt. Mitchell in the afternoon. But as I entered the Smoky Mountains Park, I picked up two hitch-hikers on their way to the Appalachian trail. So if they were going hiking, I would too.
Interesting couple, in the fifties. They were doing the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine. That's over 2000 miles. Every year, 3000 set off on this trail, but only 10% make it. I'm sure this couple will come through. I was amazed by the number of mountains they had hiked.
We separated at the Newfound Gap pass. They headed north, while I headed south towards Clingman's Dome. It was freezing cold, but at least it didn't look as it would rain again.
The trail was downright boring. No views. Forest walk. So I decided to pick up the pace. I summited Clingman's Dome just less of 3 hours after I started. The views from Clingman's was sort of great. I mean, hazy hills was all I could see, but it was much better than the trail views. On the way back, I met a couple who started at the same time as I left. They were a little surprised that I already was two hours ahead. They were hiking in normal speed. I just wanted to get back to the car. On the trail, I met approx. 10 hikers who were going "all the way". Only one of them would make it. Statistically.
On the way down, I only made better time on the way down between Mt. Collins and Mt. Mingus. I was back at the car 2,5 hours after I left Clingman's Dome. 5,5 hours all together. I guess I appreciated that the trail ran in the forest. The winds were howling. Walking on a high ridge would have been freezing cold.
Next stop, Asheville, North Carolina.
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