Clingmans DomeAt 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's actually the highest point in Tennessee, and the second highest point east of the Mississippi River. Only North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) rises higher. Clingmans Dome is protected as part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A paved road connects it to U.S. Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road). The 45-foot unique concrete observation tower was built in 1959 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers a panoramic view of the mountains - a favorite for photographers! Vistas from Clingmans Dome are spectacular year round. On clear, pollution-free days, views expand over 100 miles and into seven states. However, air pollution limits average viewing distances to 22 miles. It is a great place for sunrises and sunsets. Clingmans Dome is also an air quality monitoring station, operated by the Environmental Protection Agency, it is the second highest in eastern North America. Clingmans Dome at DuskThe Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest which covers Clingmans Dome occurs only at the highest elevations in the southeastern United States, and has more in common with forests at northern latitudes than with the forests in the surrounding areas. The cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make it a coniferous rainforest. Unfortunately, pests, disease, and environmental degradation threaten the very fragile spruce-fir forest. Much of the die off has been caused by the non-native insect, balsam woolly adelgid. Dead trunks litter the area, and dying trees struggle to survive another year. Berries thrive in the open areas, and a young forest will replace the dying trees. Besides the trail to the summit, there are several trails that start on Clingmans Dome Road and the parking area. The Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its journey from Georgia to Maine. The Appalachian Trail spans the entire range of the Appalachian Mountains, one of the most popular parts of the trail is in the Smoky Mountain region. Hikers will encounter graded switchbacks, steep climbs, undulating ridges or rocky scrambles. The path is often rugged and narrow. Many areas are very rocky. This section of the Trail is remote, with long, strenuous climbs. The high ridges along the North Carolina-Tennessee border are prone to winter weather. Check to see about Shelter Closures before hiking in the back-country. Pay close attention to bear activity warnings. Save Save Save