Mount Buckley, As Seen From Clingmans Dome
Mount Buckley has the distinction of being the 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 Buckley is typically unnoticed by nearly all visitors to Clingmans Dome. However, those hiking the Appalachian Trail between Clingmans Dome and Silers Bald will pass right over the summit of Mount Buckley, so the mountain is not without its share of visitors.
Summit of Mount Buckley
The peak's top is not thickly covered by dense forests, but enough trees are along the ridgeline to yield mostly obstructed views. Still, views do exist of the surrounding mountains and terrain. The summit area is not a well-defined peaktop, and a 40-Foot Closed Contour makes the true elevation estimates range between 6560' to 6600' elevation.
Appalachian Trail Heading West To Mount Buckley
There are two major routes to the summit of Mount Buckley. The most direct route is via the "Dome Bypass Trail" from the Clingmans Dome parking area to the Appalachian Trail. NOTE: A route page is currently being created for this direct route.
The other major route to the summit of Mount Buckley is hiking the "Clingmans Dome Trail" to Clingmans Dome and then turning west onto the Appalachian Trail to the summit of Mount Buckley.
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: Either hike up the "Dome Bypass Trail" directly to Mount Buckley (joining the Appalachian Trail near the summit), or hike up the "Clingmans Dome Trail" (0.5 miles) north to Clingmans Dome and then follow the Appalachian Trail (0.4 miles) west to the summit of Mount Buckley.
There 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.
There 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 2.1 miles west of the Mount Buckley summit is the closest such backcountry campsite to Mount Buckley.
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.