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Deep Creek - Clingman's Dome Loop

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 5.0 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This trail is a 37-mile loop that features Clingman's Dome and plenty of other breathtaking views.


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Map Key

36.8

Miles

59.2

KM

85%

Runnable

6,643' 2,025 m

High

1,836' 560 m

Low

7,069' 2,155 m

Up

7,111' 2,167 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

39%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Overview

This trail is a great way to experience the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. During this trail, you summit Clingmans Dome - the highest point in the park and in Tennessee. Additionally, you have plenty of scenic views, follow a lively stream, and see tranquil waterfalls. This four-day backpacking trip has it all, with each day averaging 9 miles, allowing you to take it easy on your vacation but still work up a good sweat.

Description

This trail is designed to be done over four days and three nights. You have to reserve your backcountry permits through the National Park Service, which can be reserved up to 30 days in advance by using the following link (smokiespermits.nps.gov/inde…). Each campsite comes with a pulley system to bear bag your food, but always bring plenty of rope in case one is defective. Be sure to observe all rules posted by the National Park Services.

Day One
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.

Day Two
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.

Day Three
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.

Day Four
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.

Flora & Fauna

On this run you can find a wealth of different plants and animals. Since there is a significant amount of elevation, you experience several different micro-climates which contain pine trees, oak trees, dogwood trees, ferns, and many more plants than one can count.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Kuttler

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes

#1

in Deep Creek

#733

Overall
  5.0 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Deep Creek

#733

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2,308 Since Aug 15, 2019
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Photos

Toms Branch Falls
Sep 3, 2015 near Bryson…, NC
Plenty of mountains to view from Clingman's Dome.
Mar 31, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Good morning, Great Smokies!
Aug 4, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
Great views from up here.
Jun 9, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
Below the observation deck.  There is a landing there which would make a great spot for lunch.
Nov 13, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Heading to Clingmans Dome Observation Tower.
Aug 4, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN

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