Dome Bypass Trail
The Dome Bypass Trail is the shortest, most direct route to the summits of Mount Buckley, located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although the route is short and straightforward, certain sections are rugged and rocky. Regardless, the route is easy to follow, well-maintained, and YDS Class I.
The route has several key advantages:
1) This is the shortest route to/from Mount Buckley.
2) When joined with a trip to/from Clingmans Dome via the Clingmans Dome Trail, this can help make for an enjoyable loop trip.
3) This route gets relatively little use in the area, even on the busiest of days. This is especially important for those hikers looking to avoid crowded hiking trails in the area.
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.
From the Clingmans Dome parking area:
1) At the beginning of the paved Clingmans Dome Trail, there is a trail junction on the left (west) side of that trail. Turn onto this spur trail, marked as "Forney Ridge Trail" on the sign. Between the Clingmans Dome parking area and Mount Buckley, the "Forney Ridge Trail" is also known as the "Dome Bypass Trail".
2) After 0.1 miles, the trail reaches a "T" intersection. Turn right (north) onto the adjoining trail, still marked as "Forney Ridge Trail".
Rocky Section Along Route
3) After 0.5 miles, the trail reaches a "T" intersection at the ridgetop between Mount Buckley and Clingmans Dome. The Appalachian Trail follows the ridgetop. A sign at the intersection shows the trail just used as "Dome Bypass Trail" rather than "Forney Ridge Trail".
4) Turn left (west) if heading towards Mount Buckley. Turn right (east) if heading towards Clingmans Dome.
-> The summit of Mount Buckley is located 0.1 miles from the intersection.
-> The summit of Clingmans Dome is located 0.3 miles from the intersection.
Standard hiking clothes and gear. No technical gear required.