Snowshoeing near our Smoky Mountain Property: Clingman's Dome
According to Snowshoe Magazine, snowshoeing is the fastest-growing winter sport in the world, and is now enjoyed by more than 4 million people each year. The area near our Smoky Mountain property is ideal for snowshoeing, particularly near Clingman’s Dome. If you are looking for an excellent snowshoeing opportunity, this is one hike you won’t want to miss.
Clingman's Dome: An Overview
Reaching an elevation of more than 6,600 feet, Clingman’s Dome sits along the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is the highest point in the state of Tennessee, as well as the highest point along the Appalachian Trail. A 45-foot observation tower sits at its summit, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Clingman's Dome Road
Clingman’s Dome Road begins at Highway 441, which is also known as Newfound Gap Road. It can become unsafe for vehicle traffic during the winter, and is therefore closed from December through March. During that time, it becomes a prime location for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
To reach Clingman’s Dome Road, park along Newfound Gap Road and make the .1 mile journey to the gate. Clingman’s Dome Road is seven miles long in either direction, so you should count on a 15-mile round trip if you plan to hike the route from start to finish and make the half-mile trek to the observation tower.
Expect an elevation gain of around 1,600 feet on your way to the summit. This will provide you with quite a challenge, but you’ll be rewarded with a mostly downhill hike on your return trip. You may also experience a bit of ice as you travel through the Deep Creek and Noland Creek valleys. For this reason, mountain terrain snowshoes are recommended, as they are ideal for icy and mountainous ground. A pair of adjustable poles will also make the uphill climb easier, in addition to providing you with better balance on the descent.
Preparing for your Trip
The route to the top of Clingman’s Dome is ungroomed, which means you will be forging your own trail for the most part. As such, you should make a few preparations beforehand:
- Check avalanche conditions ahead of time by contacting the National Park Service. An avalanche beacon and portable snow shovel is also recommended in the event you are stranded.
- Have a hand-held GPS with you and be sure you know how to use it.
- Let someone know where you are going and what time you plan to return.
- Hike with someone who is familiar with the area or hire a guide to accompany you.
- Dress in layers to ensure you are adequately protected against the cold.
- Bring plenty of water, as your body can easily become dehydrated even in winter.
Snowshoeing requires very little skill, and is a relatively quick sport to master. It is also a fun activity that will allow you to connect with nature during the winter months. Make plans now to check out Clingman’s Dome Road or any other the other trails within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.