Friday, June 16, 2017

Clingman's Dome - Great Smokey Mountains, TN - 6/16/2017

Clingman's Dome - Great Smokey Mountains, TN - 6/16/2017

Clingman's Dome is a popular tourist attraction in The Great Smokey Mountains. It's not technically a hike, but it's definitely great workout to get to it from the parking lot. Round trip from the parking lot to the top of the Dome and back is approx 1.3 miles. However, the entire way up is extremely steep, and will take you some time to get up to. If you are not used to steep inclines for over 0.5 miles then please use the benches along the way to make stops at. 
It was a little difficult for us because Jeff was carrying Jolene (about 30-40 lbs if you combine Jolene's weight and all the other gear we packed).  I was carrying a 10 lb pack of water and food for the 2 hikes of the day. 

Upon getting to the top of the road and arriving at the Dome you will see the cross street for the Appalachian Trail. We actually saw a few hikers that were on the trail for 4 weeks so far, and one father and son duo that were doing a 7 day/ 95-mile hike. The hikers that were on the trail for 4 weeks so far were a true inspiration. They were both 70-year-old women, who were just hiking at their own pace. They had no time frame to complete it (they were hiking about half of the trail). Such an inspiration. I can only hope that I will be in that great of shape at 70 years old to hike the Appalachian trial. 

The other hikers we ran into were a father and son duo. The son was probably about 10-13 years old. The dad told us they were doing a 7-day hike on the Appalachian trial. Their excursion was actually almost done, they're stopping point was the Newfound Gap Parking area. So, they were going to be done that day. But he told us they had hiked almost 95 miles. I was so happy to see a father and his son spending this one on one time together out in the wilderness. 

The stories that we've heard from so many hikers about their journey and all their past hikes has been my favorite part of this whole experience. I am just in awe of all of it. 

But, back to the Dome! To get to the stop it's a spiral walkway, not too steep, and not as long as I originally thought. Make sure to get there early in the morning, we got there at about 9 am. This early you can see the clouds inside the valleys and all the mountains as far as the eye can see. Later in the day, the clouds lift and the views can get obstructed. 

We took lots of pictures and videos before heading back down the spiral path and then starting our journey for about 0.25 mile on the Appalachian Trail. The route back to the car (instead of just going back down the paved road) we chose to take the trails. It was amazing, you were literally walking on the peaks of the mountains on the Appalachian trial. It makes me really want to train and work hard to be able to hike the trail and complete it one day. 

About a quarter mile in you take a sharp turn to the left and head down another path that will lead you back towards the parking lot. On this path, there were lots of rocks and it was basically a stream instead of a path. They are working on making this trail better so it won't be so wet as you walk thru it. But it's not too bad, just a lite and thin stream along the way. They do maintain it because it had fresh cut grass along the edges. 

Once you made it about 0.75 miles down this path there's another fork in trail. There's a sign that will tell you of the may different trails and miles to them, but you will take a left back up to the parking lot. When we got back to the truck we took a mini break. Ate a snack, fed the baby, and got ready to go onto our second hike for the day to Andrew's Bald (in the next blog entry). 
But, before that please enjoy the photos from this hike below:

View from trail up to Clingman's Dome

Parking Lot

Trail up to Clingman's Dome

Views from the top of Clingman's Dome
Walkway up to Clingman's Dome

Jeff and Jolene loving the views

Jeff, Jolene (sleeping) and Crystal

Delores (Crystal's Mom), Jolene (sleeping), Jeff and Jolene

(Getting onto the Appalachian Trail)

(We laid rocks with pictures and quotes from those who are no longer with us)

(We laid this rock, very special to us, in memory of my cousin Rod Harter Jr. He was disabled and hiked the Appalachian Trail a few years ago. Recently he passed away, so we made this rock, and placed it on a mountain ridge overlooking the beautiful views. He would've loved it.)

(Hiking on top of a mountain ridge)

(Our turn off of the Appalachian Trail back to the Parking lot)

For More information on Clingman's Dome go to:

For more information and a place to help donate to the continued efforts of maintaining the Appalachain trail go to:

Watch our video from this hike and others at:

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Thank you for reading and watching. 
Until Next time, Keep on Hiking!

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