Clingmans Dome to Silers Bald, TN

Bag four scenic peaks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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Bag four scenic peaks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This 10-mile out-and-back on the Appalachian Trail delivers outstanding returns on your aerobic investment. It’s a relatively easy stroll on a high, narrow ridgeline with constant views into Tennessee and North Carolina. From the Clingmans Dome parking area, hike .25 mile to the summit observation tower, where you can claim Tennessee’s (and the AT’s) high point (6,643 feet) before turning left on the AT.

You’ll roll through spruce, fir, beech, and ash to open views at 6,575-foot Mt. Buckley and 5,560-foot Jenkins Knob. Then, at 4.5 miles, you’ll hit The Narrows, where the ridge squeezes to a few yards wide, for a .5-mile tiptoe to 5,607-foot Silers Bald and its views of Fontana Lake and surrounding balds. To make it an overnight, head to Silers Bald Shelter .2 mile beyond.

PLAN IT
Driving From Gatlinburg, take US 441 into GSMNP. At mile 14.7, turn right onto Clingmans Dome Rd. and go 6.3 miles to the parking lot (which is closed from December through March).

Map and GuideTrails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains National Park ($12, natgeomaps.com); Hiking Trails of the Smokies, by Don DeFoe, ($20, smokiesstore.org)

Contact (865) 436-1200, nps.gov/grsm

TRIP ID 542152