Appalachian Trail- Clingman Dome to Cades Cove

#56 of 184 trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Appalachian Trail- Clingman Dome to Cades Cove is a 22.1 mile point-to-point trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from April until November.

22.1 miles Point to Point 4420 feet
hiking forest views
Hide Map
Sign up now to see this map!

Your hike begins at the highest peak on the AT, Clingmans Dome at 6643' but don't think it's all down hill from here.Over the 16.4 mi we'll call it GaK (Gaps and Knobs) RollerCoaster, you'll encounter 7 gaps, 4 knobs and 3 mountains.Head up the paved trail to the overlook.Go south on the AT for 4.6 mi until you reach Silers Bald Shelter for a lunch break.There is a sign at Buckeye Gap stating 1.8mi to Derrick Knob but it's more like 2.8mi until you reach the shelter for Day 1 of 10.6mi.The next 6.2mi is the most remote section of the AT in the GSMNP.4.1mi you will reach Beechnut Gap the last of these and welcome sight of switchbacks that will help you climb Thunderhead Mtn.First peak is marked by a benchmark and a stack of stones elevate you for a view.Then down to the third peak so obviously named Rocky Top, great lunch spot.1.1mi you will enter Spence Field and intersect with Bote Mtn Trail then to Anthony Creek Trail to Cades Cove Ranger Station for 11.5 mi on Day 2

Optional 2nd night stay at Spence Field Shelter, 3rd day continue on the AT to Russell Field and connect to Russell Field Trail and to Anthony Creek Trail to Cades Cove Ranger Station.

Leslie Bookout

3 Completed4 Reviews

Spent 2 days on this one, starting at Clingman's Dome, only the first mile is spent ascending to the top, which was good cardio. The remaining trip is spent descending, which is a bit tough on older joints. Worth the trip, worth the pain. Not a heavily used trail, we saw maybe 10 people until we were about 2 miles from the finish. Not much wildlife to report, a few tracks here and there, and some bear scat. Ample vegetation changes as you change altitudes. Take note of the multiple colors if mushrooms you will encounter during the descent. Remember your rain gear, and strongly recommend hiking poles, the terrain is not always stable, but plenty of opportunities for photos! Don't expect cell service anywhere as well.

Sam Butler

17 Completed13 Reviews

What can one say about the AT? It is such a great trail all the time. The army of volunteers who keep it up do an amazing job. We liken it to a highway.

Moderate to strenuous most of the way. Amazing vistas along the way. Great people as well. The AT is much more than a simple trail. For many it's a life changing experience. If nothing else it will leave you with many fond memories & maybe some painful ones as well.

Clingman's Dome is the second highest peak east of the Mississippi River, right after Mt. Mitchell in NC.