Clingman’s Dome Lookout NC
Total Mileage: 1.2 miles Directions 35.556573,-83.496019
Total rise: 340′ Facebook
Hike Time: 1 hour My Pintrest
Significance: The highest point on the Appalachian Trail (AT)
Here is some of what you need to know: The Dome is closed between Dec 1 through March 31. Check out the park website for more details and cool facts.
1. Scroll the mouse over the altitude line to see where it lines up on the map
2. Click on the flags for more information
3. Click on the pictures to make them large
This hike is straight up wilderness tourist trap but it is important for two reasons.
1.It is necessary for completion of the North Carolina fire tower challenge.
2. It sounds cool to say you hiked to the top of Clingman’s Dome… you are not obligated to say it was only a 1/2 miles to the top.
In all reality the place is pretty cool. The drive here takes you way up into the mountains past New Found Gap, all the while you get some incredible views from the car.
Their is plenty of parking at Clingman’s lot and the view from there is unbelievable; seriously, if you go no further than the parking area it will still have been worth the drive.
Some rocks near the trail head provided a place for the kids to play, and they led up to an area where you will find a high altitude eco-system. These woods are different than the ones at the bottom of the mountain; a thick forest of spruce, mossy and very green.
The trail is a paved road and a direct route to the lookout. You can certainly get a wheel chair to the top, but remember, their is a 0.6 mile up and down hill walk where you will gain/lose about 340′ of elevation… know your limits if pushing another person.
The space age looking observation platform was manned by a knowledgeable volunteer. A haze limited how far we could see but the 360 degree view was very cool. The most prominent mountain was Mount Leconte (a 16 mile hike on my list of places to go); the AT run to the right of there after passing through New Found Gap. To the South is Andrews Bald and Round Top Knob (There are lots of Knobs, Gaps, and Balds in NC)
Don’t forget to take some time and stop at the gift shop, it helps support our National Park System. We are lucky to have had people with foresight to set aside and develop these areas so that we can enjoy them whether it is from a parking lot or a back country lean-to. Thank you North Carolina and US government.
Below is a list of the fire towers we have hiked in the state. There are 24 fire towers on North Carolina’s fire tower challenge and it is a great way to see the mountains and see the western part of the state.