We drove into the Smokey Mountain National Park and stopped off at the visitor center to ask a few questions about hiking. They had a “day hike” map that is very helpful. After that we went on to Clingmans Dome which is the highest point in Tennessee at 6,644 feet. The drive from the RV Park to the top climbed just under 4,000 feet.
The drive into the park is great. Beautiful views of rivers along the road, thick forests, and overlooks that show the other mountains and ridges in the Park. As we drove up Clingman we found ourselves driving up into clouds. So the Smokey’s were just as you would expect – Smokey. The video at the end of this post shows more of that.
The temperature when we left the RV was 82. When we got to the top of the mountain it was 63. When we got back home it was 84. Not only was it cool but the wind was strong and it was misting. Well we were in clouds so that was no surprise.
From the parking lot there is a pretty steep climb for ½ mile to the base of the observation tower which is another 54 feet tall. There were wild flowers all along the trail. It was Saturday so there were plenty of people going up and coming back from the top. Appalachian Trail climbs up Clingmans Dome and while we were eating lunch several people came up from the trail to the top. It is the highest altitude of the trail. From the top of the tower we got a view of the very top of the mountain directly below us but everything else was hidden by clouds. The tower is holding up great considering it was build the same year we were born, 1959.
We hiked from the top of the mountain to Andrews Bald which is the highest bald in the Great Smoky Mountains.
It was interesting hiking to the trail well laid out. The path was crisscrossed by small streams or properly named ‘Cricks’. The difference is if you can jump over it without getting wet it’s a Crick. We passed through a thick forest where there were a lot of moss and ferns.
A bald does not mean literally empty but a small area with no trees. The area was thickly grassed and had dozens of blueberry bushes. All of which seemed to be picked clean of mature berries. Seems the bears had been busy sometime recently.
There was a problem with traffic. This little guy was crossing the stones in the path. As always animals have the right of way. It is their home. We are just visiting.
The hike is 3.4 miles to the end and then back to the parking lot with a change of 650 feet in altitude. Of course that means you have to walk back up that same amount. Total we hiked just over 4.5 miles.
Exhausted but happy to have made the hike we returned to the RV.
Here is the video of our visit.
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