Mount Love has the distinction of being the second-closest named peak to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee, and is located on the same ridgeline within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, despite this distinction, Mount Love is typically unnoticed by nearly all visitors to Clingmans Dome. However, those hiking the Appalachian Trail between Clingmans Dome and Mount Collins will pass through the summit area of Mount Love, so the mountain is not without its share of visitors.
The peak's top is thickly covered by forest, so few unobstructed viewpoints from the summit ridge are available. Still, some views can be found of the surrounding mountains and terrain. The summit area is a fairly flat peaktop, with a few minor bumps, and a 40-Foot Closed Contour makes the true elevation estimates range between 6400' to 6440' elevation. If hiking from Clingmans Dome, hikers will know they have passed the true summit area of Mount Love once the Appalachian Trail very noticeably descends downhill from the fairly level summit area. A GPS device is handy.
There are three major routes to the summit of Mount Buckley. The shortest (and standard) route is hiking the "Clingmans Dome Trail" to Clingmans Dome and then turning northeast onto the Appalachian Trail to the summit of Mount Love. Another route possibility is to park at one of several parking areas along Clingmans Dome Road, hike up a steep spur trail that joins the Appalachian Trail, and then follow the Appalachian Trail south to Mount Love. The most direct route to the summit of Mount Love is hiking the Appalachian Trail west from Mount Collins (or Newfound Gap), although that route would be much longer than most.
Getting ThereFor the shortest (and standard) route to the summit of Mount Love:
1) Follow US-441 (either north from the Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, or south from Gatlinburg) to Newfound Gap.
2) From Newfound Gap, turn west onto Clingmans Dome Road and follow it for seven miles until its end at a large parking area. Park there.
3) From the parking area: Hike up the "Clingmans Dome Trail" (0.5 miles) north to Clingmans Dome and then follow the Appalachian Trail (0.5 miles) northeast to the summit of Mount Love.
Red TapeThere are no entrance fees or backcountry camping fees for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is because of deed restrictions imposed when the park was created in 1934.
Clingmans Dome Road is closed during Winter. The typical climbing season generally lasts from May to October. Snow and ice can be found on the mountain slopes as early as November and lasting well into April.
CampingThere are some useful fee-based developed (aka frontcountry) campgrounds such as the Deep Creek (1800' with 108 sites) and Elkmont (2150' with 220 sites) Campgrounds. Deep Creek is open April 6 - November 1 and Elkmont from March 16 to November 26. See the GSMNP Campground Page for information, including reservations, on these sites.
Backcountry camping is free but requires a permit and an established campsite location. The Double Spring Gap Campground located 2.5 miles west of Clingmans Dome is the closest such backcountry campsite to Mount Love.
Bears are prevalent so bear bagging is advised. Food storage cable systems are available in certain areas to make this easier. See the GSMNP Bear Page for more information. In 2000 there was a fatal bear attack in the park.