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Clingman Dome is over 6,600 feet (highest in Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi) and the Google machine will tell you it is one of the best hikes in the Smokies but, is it?
Bottom Line: rating 2.5 Boots out of 5 Boots. A short half mile very accessible hike suitable for all ability levels. Paved all the way with an observation tower at the end. Crosses the Appalachian Hiking Trail. Not very scenic. How to get there: take the Newfound Gap Road, follow the signs near the top of the gap. Note: the road closes December through March.
No, Clingman Dome is not among the best hikes in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Not that I have done a ton of hiking in the Smokies, this was only my second trip there, but all the other hikes I have done have been much better. Especially, Charlie’s Bunion and Mt. Le Conte (which we did on this trip- watch for a post on that soon).
WHAT WAS COOL ABOUT CLINGMAN DOME?
Before getting into what we didn’t like about Clingman lets cover some of the cool things about it. First, it is extremely accessible. The hike is only half a mile and is paved the whole
way. If you have kids or family members that aren’t interested in or physically up to more traditional hiking this is a good option. It can be a little steep so, breaks may be a good idea. Second, there is a viewing tower that is also very accessible. It isn’t often you find one with a gradual ramp instead of stairs. Granted, the bomb shelter architecture is unappealing and out-of-place, but it does allow everyone to enjoy a bit of mother nature’s beauty. The final cool thing about the Clingman Dome hike is that it is the highest point in the park. I’m not a peak bagger kind of guy but anytime I can reach the highest point around I am there.
Read the full Clingman review on TrailPotato