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This Loop Takes the Appalachian Trail Past Views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!


Clingmans loop takes the Appalachian Trail past multiple views of the park and so much more and begins at the highest trail head in the park.

Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome, appalachian trail tenn

You will find a small forested area, plentiful with wildlife, including red fox, whitetail deer and black bear, containing fir, pine and spruce trees, with a streamside camping area that is in a rich woodlands, after you drop down into Tennessee proper, where you will leave the high country.

Red Fox
Red Fox, appalachian trail tenn

Beneath Clingmans Dome in Three Forks, Little River will afford you an awe inspiring walk along the watershed, which will carry you to your second nights stay if you so choose.


With more good views, via the Sugarland Mountain Trail, the final day will be an arduous and long ascent back into the high country again.

Sugarland Mountain
Sugarland Mountain, appalachian trail tenn

Finally, to traverse the paths that will carry you over Mount Collins and Clingmans Dome, intersect with the Appalachian Trail. Atop the dome, make a final stop at the observation tower.


Clingmans Dome

It is the highest point along the 2,174 mile (3,499 km) Appalachian Trail and the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest mountain in the Smokies. Only Mount Mitchell (6,684 ft) and Mount Craig (6,647 ft) are higher, east of the Mississippi River.

Mount Craig
Mount Craig, appalachian trail tenn

As part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome is currently protected. A paved road, connects it to Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), closed in winter (December 1 through March 31). Featuring a panoramic view of the mountains in every direction, is the concrete observation tower built in 1959.

Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441)
Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), appalachian trail tenn

The mountain was dubbed Smoky Dome by American settlers moving in from other areas, reputedly known as the mulberry place (Kuwahi) by the Cherokee Indians. For compatriot Thomas Lanier Clingman (1812-1897), an American Civil War general who extensively explored the area in the 1850s and spent many years thereafter promoting it, in 1859, the mountain was henceforth renamed by Arnold Guyot.

This Is Why It's Called Smoky Dome!
This Is Why It's Called Smoky Dome, appalachian trail tenn

A coniferous rainforest, the wet, cool conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make it. Environmental degradation, disease, and pests, threaten the fragile and unique spruce fir forest, unfortunately. Dying trees struggle to survive another year, and dead trunks litter the area.

Dying Trees
Dying Trees, appalachian trail tenn

Passing immediately north of the observation tower, the Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome. A 7.5 mile (12.1 km) leg of the trail provides the only nonovernight access to the mountain in winter months, and connects the mountain with Newfound Gap.

Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap, appalachian trail tenn





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