Ascent of Clingmans Dome on 2012-06-28

Climber: Alan Barber

Date:Thursday, June 28, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Clingmans Dome
    Location:USA-Tennessee/North Carolina
    Elevation:6643 ft / 2024 m

Ascent Trip Report

We left the summit of Sassafras Mountain at 5:30pm, drove down the mountain, back over the Eastern Continental divide into North Carolina, and on toward Clingmans Dome Tennessee. We took the advice of our hotel desk clerk and retraced our route back toward Asheville and then over to Cherokee North Carolina through the Indian reservation.

The Fairfield Inn where we stayed is in the Cherokee Indian Nation reservation and was immediately across the street from the large Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. We checked into our hotel, went to a local restaurant for dinner, and then called it a night. By 7am the next morning we were on the road to Clingmans Dome Tennessee. There was not much traffic at that time of the morning and we arrived at Clingmans Dome at 8:45 am. The drive up the mountain to the high point was beautiful. The Cherokee reservation has some very interesting tourist stores which reminded us of something from the 1950s.

We arrived at the turn off to the Clingmans Dome park road and took the winding 6.4 mile drive along the ridge to the high point. The border between Tennessee and North Carolina runs along this ridge. We saw the tower in the distance and it is impressive even from a distance. Clingmans Dome is the 17th highest state high point with an elevation of 6643 feet. There is a large parking lot. The half mile asphalt path to the top is a steep, steady rise with several benches placed along the way for those who need to catch their breath. At over 6600 feet it is one of the highest points we visited on this trip. We started out with a brisk and steady pace and were able to complete the climb without any stops. The altitude effects were noticeable but not bad.

The summit "flying saucer" is the central feature and has a long curving ramp leading to the observation platform. From the observation platform the Great Smoky Mountains National Park extends in all directions. There are labeled displays naming the various geographic features in each direction. The actual views were spectacular especially because of the wonderful weather and the clear skies. Even so, you could understand why this region is called the Great Smokey Mountain National Park because of the haze in the valleys.

We read that Clingmans Dome is the most visited US State highpoint in the most visited US National Park. Perhaps the fact that there are no entrance fees contributes to this but the views were great! The Appalachian Trail passes the base of the tower ramp. We looked around for a USGS marker at the top but could not find one. However, there was a USGS marker near the start of the half mile path to the top.

we left Clingmans Dome at 9:30 am and stayed on US 441 heading toward Brasstown Bald.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:1 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Clear

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