From Stepps Gap parking, up the aforementioned service road, then wandering on through the trees to the top. Actually much more of a "climb" than Mt. Mitchell. Even a little bushwhacking thrown into the bargain.
Took the old trail road from the junction near the tower gates on Clingman's Peak. Followed the old road a short distance to run down NCSU cabin. Trail beyond cabin is fairly easy to locate, reached the summit a few minutes later. Benchmark is right in the middle of the 'trail'.
nearly stopped at the false summit, but I had a hunch that there might be something higher, especially since there was a well worn "manway" leading away from the false summit.
Great winter day with the trail absolutely to myself. Found the USGS marker without too much difficulty. Best access seems to be from Clingman's Peak access with a short road as mentioned above. Just head for the high point from 'The Hooch' a shack near some old short rusty towers. Not much of a trail once you pass 'The Hooch'
But it's possible with very detailed instructions regarding following the boundary trail. Much better hiked from north to south. Then take in Craggy Dome to the south.
I came up from the southwest side, past an abandoned building and another part-time academic residence (maintained by North Carolina State). I went up this peak on my way to Potato Knob from Mount Mitchell.
This follows the boundary between the NPS land and the state park, which makes the route finding a lot easier. There are a couple of stretches of cane, but the ranger at Steppes Gap indicated that they were contracted to "clean up" the trail.
This was a relatively easy hike, although there are some tricky route finding sections. The fog made the hike through the dense balsam forest abit challenging as it got thicker through the day.