The 46.8-mile-long Segment 1 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) begins in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), straddling Tennessee and North Carolina. Heading eastbound, the trail starts at the observation tower on top of Clingmans Dome
at the state boundary. After paralleling the road to Clingmans Dome
for a few miles, it heads deep into the woods on the longest roadless stretch of the MST—22.8 miles with no road access. Emerging to US 441 at Mingus Mill
, the segment continues past the GSMNP's Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum and along the Oconaluftee River, popular for tubing.
From here, the trail continues along the shoulder of the BRP for several miles, with two short trail sections to avoid tunnels (in which walking is prohibited). The BRP is famous for the views from its overlooks, and this segment features several. Turning to gravel roads, the route continues through the Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, before returning to hiker-only trail for the last 6.4 miles to Waterrock Knob
- The observation tower on Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet
- Following along Deep Creek, with its cascades and falls
- Campsite #57, Horace Kephart's last camp, and the historic millstone put up in his memory
- Historic Mingus Mill, built in 1886 and still in operation; tours are available
- The cultural and natural history exhibits at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum
- The 0.3-mile side trip to the summit of Waterrock Knob, the third-highest point on the MST, where views on a clear day can encompass four states
In GSMNP, large wooden signs at every junction indicate the name of the trail and the mileage to each intersecting trail. The trails, other than the Appalachian Trail, are not blazed. There are MST blazes—3-inch white circles—on two short trail sections that bypass tunnels on the BRP at EB Miles 30.7-31.9; WB Miles 14.9-16.1. There are no blazes on the BRP roadway, but there are markers where the trail leaves the roadway. The trail is continuously blazed between Waterrock Knob
and EB Mile 35.7; WB Mile 11.1.
For more information, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles, and resupply information, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide
from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.