OverviewThis route utilizes the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap and heads south on the trail to the summit of Clingmans Dome passing over a couple other summits as well including Mt. Collins and Mt. Love, both of which are over 6,000 feet.
Getting ThereTake 441 from either Cherokee, NC or Gatlinburg, TN to Newfound Gap and park in the overlook parking area at the top.
Route DescriptionThis route takes the Appalachian Trail south to Clingmans Dome and bypasses all the crowds even though it is a little bit longer. The route includes a lot of elevation variation as the you will be up and down on this ridge walk. For most of the hike you will be in pine stands and occaisionally you'll get a view to the east or west.
The hike is seven miles to the Clingmans Dome summit tower so you can either park your car at Newfound Gap and make it an out and back trip of 14 miles round-trip, or you can have someone park a car at the Clingmans Dome parking area and just add a half mile to your hike, which will make it approximately 8 miles. Another option is to just hitch-hike back down to Newfound Gap with somebody who's leaving the Clingmans Dome parking area. Regardless of which route you choose, it is well worth it and helps you get away from the busy half mile paved trail to the summit of Clingmans Dome. This is a gorgeous ridge walk and also allows you to bag two other peaks as well.