This grueling 29.8 mile round-trip trek from the base of Tennessee’s highest mountain in Smoky Mountain National Park is not for the faint of heart. It is a strenuous hike is an often unforgiving environment. The elevation gain from the base to the summit is 4,863 ft. in 14.9 miles.
For most individuals this is more than a day hike. Making this a two day overnighter is highly recommended. There are several places to camp along the trail. Remember to obtain a backcountry permit from the ranger’s office before you venture into the Smoky Mountains National Park backcountry.
The hike starts at the Noland Divide Trail. To access the Noland Divide Trail > from Bryson City, N.C. follow SR 1364 (Lakeview Drive) > The trailhead is located just before the end of SR 1364 (on the right-hand side). You will see Noland Creek.
Follow the extremely steep and unforgiving Noland Divide Trail for 12.9 miles. At 12.9 miles the Noland Creek Trail intersects with the Clingmans Dome Road. Take a left on to the Clingmans Dome road and follow the road for about a mile and a half to the tourist trail. Follow the tourist trail 0.5 miles to the summit. The freshly manicured, over perfumed, giggly auto-tourists will smell you coming. Some of curious “gapers” may even want to take a photo of a “real hiker.” You will definitely look and smell like one after this hike.
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"The blind climber talks about gear because he can't see the mountains."