The Clingmans Dome hiking trail is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast. In this Smoky Mountains vacation guide, we’ll tell you all about the things you need to know before hiking this trail so you can enjoy the experience to its fullest.
Get to experience the unique beauty of Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet—the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. The kid-friendly trail is approximately a 2-mile round-trip, but every step is worth it! Hikers experience incredible summit views and enjoy several serene vistas along the way that offer glimpses of the Smoky Mountains’ unique beauty.
Clingmans Dome hiking trail is also home to several rare species of plants and animals, making it a great place to observe nature in its natural habitat.
You may want to leave your pets at home as they do not allow them on this trail.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for some outdoor adventure, Clingmans Dome hiking trail has something for everyone.
How long is the hike to the top of Clingmans Dome?
The Clingmans Dome Hiking Trail is a moderate to strenuous hike with an elevation gain of 101 meters. It is a 2.1 kilometer-round-trip and takes approximately 43 minutes to complete.
The trail begins at Clingmans Dome parking area and follows the Appalachian Trail for 1.5 miles one way, ending at Clingmans Dome summit, the highest point in Tennessee.
Along the way are several scenic overlooks and a few hiking trails near Clingmans Dome that offer spectacular views of the observation tower and its surrounding forests.
How hard is the hike to Clingmans Dome?
The hike to Clingmans Dome is moderately challenging. It is a paved, one-and-a-half-kilometer trail with railings and several switchbacks leading to the observation tower.
The trail is steep in parts but can still be considered wheelchair and stroller-friendly. It can also be challenging for hikers not used to climbing uphill on trails or in general, but not to worry, as there are plenty of benches along the way where you can take a break if necessary.
It is wise to plan and bring plenty of water and snacks like trail mix or dried fruits for the hike, especially in hot weather conditions. When bringing the little ones, be sure to bring hydration packs for kids to ensure that they keep their stamina for the whole duration of the hike.
My kids love their Camelbak hydration packs because it keeps them hydrated, and, well, it comes in their favorite color!
The trail is wide (approx. 8 feet) and well-maintained, making it relatively easy to traverse. The view from the observation deck at the top of Clingmans Dome is worth the effort, so make sure you research ahead of time for your hike!
How much does it cost to go up Clingmans Dome?
It costs nothing to go up Clingmans Dome as it is a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which does not require visitors to pay an entrance fee or any other kind of fee for trail access.
However, visitors should be aware that starting March 1, 2023, the Great Smoky Mountains parking tag program will commence, and visitors will be required to pay the following fees:
- Daily – $5
- Weekly – $15
- Annual – $40
Is Clingmans Dome trail open?
We all want to visit this stunning observation tower all year round, but it’s important to note that the road leading up to Clingmans Dome will be closed during winter due to weather conditions.
This year Clingmans Dome is set to open on April 1, 2023, until November 30, 2023, weather permitting. You may also visit their website for road closures and trail advisories on any trails.
You may visit AllTrails for more insider tips on hiking the Clingmans Dome trail.
Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary
I understand how difficult it can be to plan a trip, especially if it’s your first time going. That’s why I created this 7-day itinerary for the Smoky Mountains. It outlines all of the best places to go in the area and comes with insider tips that will save you a lot of stress–trust me, they saved me when I was planning my own trip!
- Our 7-day itinerary takes you to the best places in the Smoky Mountains.
- You’ll get to see all the best sights and attractions with driving directions
- The itinerary is designed to show you the most scenic routes.
- Packing Checklist for every season.
- You’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip.
- Insider Tips!
Here’s a quick overview of our Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary.
- Day 1: Cades Cove Loop
- Day 2: Rich Mountain Road
- Day 3: Cataloochee Valley
- Day 4: Newfound Gap Road
- Day 5: Roaring Fork Motor Trail
- Day 6: Little River Road
- Day6: Foothills Parkway
Download Our FREE Smoky Mountains Checklist!
Related Smoky Mountain Resources
- Pigeon Forge Vacation Guide
- Gatlinburg Vacation Guide
- Smoky Mountains Attractions for Every Season
- Short Hiking Trails in Gatlinburg, TN
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Going to the Smokies with the kids? Let your children explore the outdoors– check out these nature scavenger hunt printables from Cravtivity Designs!