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Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail



0.5 mile 0.9 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 305' 93 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 6,505' 1,983 m
Low: 6,200' 1,890 m


Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 13% (8°)


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Trail shared by David Hitchcock

A trail that provides access to the AT while avoiding the crowds on the Clingmans Dome Trail.

David Hitchcock

Features Views

Family Friendly While the grades along this trail will challenge children, their short durations make them doable, and the breathtaking views atop Clingmans Dome make them worth it.

Clingmans Dome Road is closed in the winter, so access via that road is restricted during that time of year.

Closed if Newfound Gap Road (US HWY 441 between Gatlinburg TN - Cherokee NC) is closed due to snow and ice. Newfound Gap Road information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.


The trailhead is located at the Clingmans Dome parking lot where the Forney Ridge Trail begins. While the paved trail to Clingmans Dome might be easier, it can be very crowded. If you are looking for solitude as you start your adventures on the AT, this is the quieter option for getting to the long trail.

The Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail drops .2 miles from the parking lot before coming to a junction. The trail goes off to the right and begins to climb uphill towards the Appalachian Trail (AT). The trail is rocky through this section, but views of some high elevation meadows are offered on the left side of the trail. The tree cover quickly disappears due to the death of the Fraser firs in the area. The trail climbs gently until it meets up with the Appalachian Trail (AT) .3 miles west of Clingmans Dome observation tower. At this junction, excellent views of Elkmont and Sugarland Mountain are off to the north and west.

Once you reach the junction, you have several options. Off to your left, you can explore the Appalachian Trail as it makes its way toward Silers Bald. If you turn to the right, you can follow the AT back to Clingmans Dome Observation Tower (and the crowds) and then follow the paved trail back to the parking lot.

It's a 1.5 mile roundtrip loop, making for a nice day in the mountains.

Flora & Fauna

Deer are the most common visitors of this trail.

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Aug 26, 2019
0.5mi — 0h 45m
Jul 6, 2019
Cathy Gearhart
First time hiking in GSM. Great hike away from crowds. We were not in a hurry, we took our time. 0.5mi — 1h 00m
Sep 20, 2018
Kelsey S
Nov 5, 2017
Brian Carpenter
From AT to parking lot...in the dark, through a cloud. Felt long, especially at the end of a long hike, but better than taking the paved trail down. 0.5mi
Sep 4, 2017
Rob Seymour
Aug 25, 2017
Mb Tebo
Aug 13, 2017
Doreen Matthes
Jul 17, 2016
John Woodring

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 4 votes


  3.5 from 4 votes
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in North Carolina


27 Views Last Month
1,003 Since Sep 4, 2015



View from the very beginning of Andrews Bald!
Jun 28, 2018 near Bryson…, NC
The Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail is quite rocky.
Oct 18, 2016 near Bryson…, NC


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