Clingman's Dome, 2025m (6643ft)
Mt. Collins, 1886m (6188ft)

Mountain area : Smoky Mountains
Location : Tennessee USA
Primary Factor: Mt. Collins: >143m (est.) Clingman's Dome
Hiked : Apr 2002
Clingmans Dome seen from Appalachian Trail

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.

Trail descriptions:

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)

Difficulty : Easy, but long
Risk : None
Distance : 7,9 miles to summit
Time : 3-5 hours to the top
Starting Elev.: Approx. 1536m (5040ft)
Vertical Gain : Approx. 900m (incl. ups and downs)
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Locate the Newfound Gap pass on US highway 441 running across the Smoky Mountains between Gatlinburg (Tennessee) and Cherokee (North Carolina). Plenty of parking available.

The pass may be crowdy on sunny summer week-ends.

The trail:

The trail is rather uneventful. From the parking, the first mile climbs up Mt. Mingus and descends down to the Road Prong Trail junction. Then, the trail climbs steady for several miles to the summit of Mt. Collins. From Mt. Collins, the trail drops noticeably before it climbs to the summit of Clingman's Dome.

From time to time, the trail runs near the road to Clingman's Dome. But only a couple of times, you will actually see cars. The Appalachian trail is well traveled, and you will have no difficulties following the trail all the way to the Clingman's Dome lookout tower.

The trail changes from wide to narrow along the way. At places, it can get muddy. You will not have any particular views anywhere, until you reach the Clingman's Dome lookout tower.

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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Newfound Gap parking (148KB) Trailhead sign at Newfound Gap (241KB) Scenery from the Appalachian trail (217KB) Mother nature can be strong (260KB) View from Clingmans Dome (144KB) View from Clingmans Dome (102KB) View from Clingmans Dome (138KB) View from Clingmans Dome (132KB) View from Clingmans Dome (113KB) View from Clingmans Dome (134KB) View from Clingmans Dome (105KB) Mt. Le Conte seen from Clingmans Dome (239KB) Mt. Le Conte seen from Clingmans Dome (174KB) The whole trail seen from Clingmans Dome (164KB) West view from Clingmans Dome (360KB) The Clingmans Dome Lookout Tower (212KB) Scenery from the Appalachian Trail (164KB) Scenery from the Appalachian Trail (278KB) Scenery from the Appalachian Trail (291KB) Scenery from the Appalachian Trail (272KB) Scenery from the Appalachian Trail (276KB)

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