Deep Creek - Clingman's Dome Loop
ElevationAscent: 7,069' 2,155 m
Descent: -7,111' -2,167 m
High: 6,643' 2,025 m
Low: 1,836' 560 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)
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“This trail is a 37-mile loop that features Clingman's Dome and plenty of other breathtaking views.”— Brian Kuttler
Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
You start at the Deep Creek parking lot and begin on the Noland Divide Trail. After a good few miles of incline, you'll come across the Lonely Pine Overlook. Here you'll be able to take a well-deserved break and enjoy some great views of Bryson City and the surrounding mountains. Once you continue your run, you'll reach a split point where you do a short run down to reach your first camp spot, Bald Creek (campsite 61). This campsite is situated next to a lively stream - perfect for refilling your water supplies and providing relaxing noises to fall asleep to. This day is 9 miles.
The next day, you continue on the Noland Divide Trail until you reach the access road for Clingman's Dome. You do 1.5 miles of road running until you reach the summit area for Clingman's Dome. Be ready for a swarm of people -- it can be quite a shock after 14 hours of solitude. You can take advantage of the trash cans at the summit to lighten your load. Then you continue on the AT headed north until you reach the second campsite, Mt. Collins (campsite 106). This shelter has a water source 0.1 miles northbound on the AT, allowing you to refill your water supplies. This day is 10 miles.
Run south on the AT until you reach the split onto Fork Ridge Trail, where you follow this trail until you reach the Deep Creek Trail. You continue on the Deep Creek Trail until you reach your third campsite, Bryson Place (campsite 57). While running on the Deep Creek Trail you'll be following the river for the rest of the run. At times you even go off trail and are required to run along riverside rocks -- make sure you have plenty of balance. Additionally, this day has a several stream crossings, so be sure to bring water shoes. The campsite is a peaceful setting with towering trees and plenty of open space with the sound of the river off in the distance. This day is 10 miles.
Continue on Deep Creek Trail and you should find yourself back where you started. This day is an easy 7 miles with an extremely small elevation change -- a nice stroll through the woods. You have the opportunity to enjoy three separate water falls nearby the parking area for the Deep Creek campground.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park