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 0.25 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 Mount 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 0.5-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 0.2 mile beyond.
MAP AND GUIDE: Trails 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
-Mapped by Jeff Chow