“A trail that provides access to the AT while avoiding the crowds on the Clingmans Dome Trail.”
— David Hitchcock
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.
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.