Smoky #2 – Clingmans Dome

Betty and Dan with Clingmans Dome in the distance.

Sometimes I think we don’t give the weather forecasters enough credit. We all love to make the jokes when he or she misses the mark, but often times, the forecast is right on, and we hardly even notice.

Well, Dan and I noticed this time! The forecast was for a clear, sunny day. So, we decided today would be the day we would visit Clingmans Dome.

There were a few things I didn’t quite realize about Clingmans Dome. I didn’t realize we would be entering North Carolina in order to reach Clingmans Dome. Clingmans Dome sits atop of the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is the highest point in Smoky Mountains National Park. Its elevation is 6643 feet.

The second thing I didn’t quite realize is how tough the walk would be up to Clingmans Dome. It’s only one half mile, but it’s steep! The elevation gain on the half mile walk is 332 feet. Now that may not sound like much. But trust me. It is.

Betty and Dan stand in front of a number of large boulders.
Don’t worry.
This is not the trail, just an area by the Visitor Center.
Betty on the trail to Clingmans Dome
Here’s the trail!

Fortunately, there are several benches along the way, and Dan and I took advantage of every single one of them. The nice thing is you get to meet people from all over as these benches are well used. And the people you see coming back down are very encouraging, with comments like, “You’re almost there!” or “It’s worth it!”

And it is so worth it! The view was spectacular! One of the informational signs said on a clear day, you can see Mount Mitchell which is 73 miles away in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. We could see Mount Mitchell! We picked this day based on the weather forecast, so I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The forecast was right on, so thank you to the National Weather Service.

View of the Smoky Mountains from Clingmans Dome

Another thing I didn’t realize, or rather remember, was that the Appalachian Trail travels along the Tennessee/North Carolina border through the Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s been a while since I read one of my favorite books, “A Walk in the Woods.”

Map showing the Appalachian Trail atop the Tennessee/North Carolina border
Information Sign
at Clingmans Dome
Information sign at Clingmans Dome with the view in the distance
North Carolina/Tennessee Border

Near the top of Clingmans Dome, there are a couple of signs for the “Appalachian Trail”, and, of course, I had to get my picture taken with one of the signs. Like Bill Bryson, I can now say I hiked the Appalachian Trail. 🙂 Just not quite as far.

Betty standing behind a rustic sign for the Appalachian Trail
My Walk in the Woods

Feeling triumphant and energized from having made it to the top – and from having hiked the Appalachian Trail, we made record time coming back down. But we did take the time, to say an encouraging word or two, to those going up, who were wondering how much farther, just as we had, not so long ago.

View looking down to the base of Clingmans Dome
View from the base looking up to Clingmans Dome

At this point, it was time for sustenance, so we asked a park volunteer where we could enjoy the picnic lunch we had brought along. She recommended a charming spot, Chimneys Picnic area, which was about a 30 minute drive. This was perfect as it was about the halfway point on the way back to our campground home.

Chimneys Picnic area was a beautiful tiered area overlooking the Pigeon River. We ate our lunch, and afterwards, we played a couple games of Scrabble while enjoying this beautiful locale. We liked Chimneys Picnic area so much, we would return to it two more times during our stay here in Gatlinburg.

Picnic table at Chimney Tops picnic area.
Chimneys Picnic Area

But tomorrow would not be one of those times.

We had something else planned for tomorrow. And that is where we’ll go in my next post.


  1. What a wonderful hike! Your great writing and photos took us along with you, so thank you! Bill Bryson is my favourite travel writer. I love his humour as he describes his adventures. “A Walk in the Woods” was made into a movie a few years back and I remember enjoying it almost as much as the book. Another wonderful book about hiking the Appalachian Trail is “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk”. I have a dear friend (who winters in our Texas park) from Wisconsin who completed a through-hike of the AT about 15 years ago. I’m sure she stood on the exact spot you did with that sign, Betty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Terry! I have not seen the movie “A Walk in the Woods.” But I did just request it from the library along with “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.” Thank you for the recommendations! I have read many of Bill Bryson’s books. My son attended Washington University (in St. Louis), and he invited me once to a dinner with the featured speaker being Bill Bryson! It was a great night. Afterwards, my son was talking to people, and I was in the lobby with just a few people. Bill Bryson was standing alone. I could have walked up to him and spoken, but I was too nervous! One of my life’s regrets! But at least I saw him in person and heard his speech. Your friend must be a hearty soul! We saw people with huge backpacks, and I’d guess they were hiking the Appalachian Trail. I admire them – especially as I sit in my travel trailer! Have a great day, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • How fantastic that you were able to hear Bill Bryson speak. I’ll bet he would have been gracious if you had approached him. I’ve read Grandma Gatewood’s walk three times already, as I find it to be so inspirational for me to keep up with my own little walks. I hope you enjoy it. I was just completing today’s post, and smiled at the fact that you and I had a similar type of experience we were posting about today. You hiked the Appalachian Trail, and we drove Route 66!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We went to Clingmans Dome in October! We also sat on all the benches on the way up, and I took a photo of the sign with the words “Appalachian Trail” on it. What an amazing view!!! My cousin grew up in Maryville, south of Knoxville and still lives an easy drive from Smoky Mountain National Park. One thing he suggested that we really enjoyed was a place in the park called “Elkmont”. There is a campground there, but also the remains of an old resort from the early 1900’s. Today there is a street of abandoned cabins that you can go inside. There is also a trail you can hike on nearby. Here is a link with some info in case you have time to check it out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Meg! The Elkmont area looks really cool! I did see a sign for it a couple of times. I bet the Fall colors were beautiful in October! Those benches are very well used! And I bet that sign for the Appalachian Trail is in plenty of photos! 🙂 Hope you have a great Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That area is such a beautiful place, and what a place to play Scrabble! Next thing you know, you’ll be riding the Tail of the Dragon on your e-bikes…or is that in an upcoming post already? 🚴‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • We often have our Scrabble board, just for the purpose of playing a game in a pretty spot. It’s a great way to enjoy an area a bit longer. Now, I had to Google “Tail of the Dragon”, so you know we didn’t do that. However, all I can say regarding your comment is… stay tuned…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been in this area many, many times over the years and still havent attempted hiking up to the dome. BTW I think I have a picture that was taken at those rocks too. I will look. If I do I will share them with you via FB Messenger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We will likely only visit this area once. So, that’s why we stayed two weeks. I thought to myself, if I don’t go up Clingmans Dome now, I probably never will. We rested a lot, but we are so glad we made the effort! I know you sent me something on Messenger; I will check it out. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You picked a perfect day to make the hike! What a glorious view from the top! I remember that hike to Clingman’s Dome and having people tell us “It’s worth it”. And it was. Thanks for reminding me of that day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, how much fun, Betty! I’m so glad the weather turned out so perfectly for your trek to Clingmans Dome, and bravo for making it to the top. I would’ve been making use of those benches! I’m looking forward to your next adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It was really fun – particularly once we were done going up! I appreciate your enthusiasm for our next adventure. It’s a good one! Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Diane, I would have loved to have met you on one of those benches. I just know it would have been a fun conversation! If you ever see me sitting on a bench, please have a seat. 🙂 Hope you have a great week!


  7. You know I have been to the Smokey Mountains so many times over my lifetime but I can’t recall if I have been to Clingmans Dome. I am almost certain our parents would have taken us there on one of our many trips to Montreat but I just have no memories. Mt. Mitchell, on the other hand, I have been to a multitude of times, not the least of which is that it is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the highest peak east of the Mississippi but only beats Clingmans Dome by a mere 41 feet. So I have probably seen Clingmans Dome from Mt. Mitchell on one of those trips without even knowing it.

    And speaking of the AT, my wife has also read multiple books on it and on one of trips to drive the Tail of Dragon, we went to Fontana Lake and found the trail ran right by it. So, just like you, my wife got her picture made next to the sign just like she were avidly hiking it.

    Thanks for another entertaining and informative post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome, David! I did not know Mt. Mitchell was the highest peak east of the Mississippi, so thank you for telling me that. I only knew where Mt. Mitchell was (from Clingmans Dome) because of the informational sign. However, it matched up perfectly to our view; it was so clear. You are the second reader to mention Tail of the Dragon – which I have never heard until this post. I did Google it, and I don’t think we would want to drive it while pulling our travel trailer! We did go to Cherokee, NC one day (future post ), and I did see a sign for the Blue Ridge Parkway. I wonder how many people have had the idea – like your wife and I – to have our picture taken by the AT sign. 🙂 Probably pretty many. No sign of a large backpack anywhere could be a telling sign that we didn’t really hike the trail. 🙂 I did Google Montreat in comparison to where Cherokee is located, and now I have it in my mind where Montreat is located. I am glad you enjoyed the post! Hope you have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You definitely don’t want to take your trailer on the Tail. That’s where I go in my little sports cars for a thrilling drive. It boasts 318 curves in just 11 miles. I actually have a photo of a 20 foot long RV maneuvering around the curves. I figured they must be lost.
        Thanks Betty and I hope you have a great week as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful post. Two wonderful hikes. Hey, if you are willing to walk the Appalachian Trail I’ll make arrangements to pick you up in Maine! Now that I know there are benches along the way I would indeed be willing to take the first hike to “the Dome”. Looking for more of your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bill. I appreciate the offer to pick me up in Maine, but since I already have hiked the Appalachian Trail, I will pass. 😉 We met many nice people on the benches up to the dome. More adventures coming soon. Have a great week!


  9. How beautiful and a fun thing to do! I know about elevation gain – twice I’ve climbed Enchanted Rock with an elevation gain of 425 feet! Just a path and no benches along the way, the last few minutes are one step at a time – a real mental challenge, but so worth the effort when reaching the top! Your picnic spot looks very peaceful! I’m enjoying your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had to Google “Enchanted Rock”, but that looks like an amazing hike! Good for you! It is a mental challenge. I tell myself, “If I don’t do this now, I may never.” We visit Texas (Dallas) because my son and his wife live there. If we are ever near Enchanted Rock, I want to climb it. But I better not wait too long. I’m not getting any younger! The picnic spot was so beautiful. The Pigeon River runs along side it, so there was a view plus the sound of the river over the rocks. Hope you have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You are a lady with many talents – writing, blogging, walking the Appalachian Trail, and the list goes on and on. HAHA Good for you to get the picture for proof! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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