The Smoky Mountains, rays of sunlight piercing the clouds and a fog bank overwhelming a ridge like you would see in San Francisco, that’s what a visit to Clingman’s Dome is like. Clingman’s is: the third highest point east of the Mississippi; the tallest mountain in the Smoky Mountain Range; and peers down paternally on the rest of the Smokies. It can’t be ignored or avoided, it is too impressive for that.
The parking lot provides a carnival-like atmosphere. There are families taking pictures, elderly waiting for the bathroom and hikers challenging themselves to take a brisk walk to the observation tower without stopping to catch their breath. This mountain is over 6,600 feet above sea level and the walk from the parking area to the tower, although not far, is very steep which is challenging for those who live at much lower elevations.
Unfortunately, the observation tower is currently closed due to renovations. It is expected to open again in the spring of 2018. Seven and a half miles of the Appalachian Trail crosses the mountain just north of the observation tower. There are also many other trails of varying grades that can satisfy the appetite of any avid hiker.
It was overcast during my visit but I definitely recommend spending some time here. The observation tower is scheduled to re-open in April 2018. I would schedule a visit after that date so you can enjoy the 360 degree view from the top of the mountain.
Have you been to Clingman’s Dome? What was your experience like there?
For more information about the Clingman’s Dome area, click on the link.