Yay for more hiking! This time we set our sights on...
Roundtrip: 9.3 miles (we went a bit farther than that because we also took a side jaunt up to Clingman's Dome)
Total Elevation Gain: 2,152 ft (again, it'll be more if you go to Clingman's)
Directions: From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 13.2 miles south along Newfound Gap Road. Turn right onto Clingmans Dome Road and go 7 miles to the end of the road to a large paved parking lot. At the far end of the lot is a forked trailhead. Take the left, unpaved trail to begin your journey.
Starting this crazy hike off right - egg sammich, coming right up!
The trail starts at the parking lot for Clingman's Dome.
You can either fork off to the left toward Siler's Bald (you'll connect with the AT first), or you can take the paved trail to the right that will take you to the Clingman's lookout tower.
The first part of the trail had many interesting features. Definitely one of the more diverse trails we've seen.
There was a THICK cloud cover that blocked most of the areas that would have provided us with a view. No worries, though, the creepy atmosphere was fun!
Each time we hit the trails, we see more and more color.
Our first little friend on this trek.
So creepy.. the diseased trees just added to the creep factor!
The heavy tree cover combined with the thick clouds made this one of the darkest hikes we've taken.
Second little friend near the AT shelter!
Thru hikers taking a rest at the shelter.
We finally reached an opening where the cloud cover lifted a bit.
Rockin the knee brace. This trail KILLED my IT Band. Killed it. I couldn't walk for the rest of the evening, ugh.
At the top you'll find this rock..
With this U.S. Geological Survey marker. If you hang a left here, you'll continue along the AT. If you go straight ahead, you'll reach a great lunch spot overlooking Miry Ridge. The bald itself is no longer maintained, so it's overgrown and not an open meadow like Gregory Bald
See? Pretty neat place to have lunch. There's even a few convenient rocks to use as a place to sit.
The usual trail lunch.
Requisite photo #1
Requisite photo #2
This was most of the way back.. it was odd to have so much of the ground visible on a nearby hillside. This is looking toward Clingman's Dome.
On the way back, you have the option to fork off to the left on a semi-hidden trail that will connect you with the paved trail to Clingman's Dome. We chose to take that route and came across this great little lookout point.
We weren't going to come all this way and not take a little side trip to the Clingman's Dome Tower!
360 degree views at the top. Still pretty cloudy, but it was still very pretty!
On each side of the tower, there is a sign that tells you what you can see.
Looking down at the iconic spiraling ramp to the top.
We were pretty wasted when we got back to the car. I dunno if it's the fact that wedding season is in full bore and we're exhausting ourselves shooting, or if it really was that gnarly of a hike. I'm thinking it's a little bit of both - this trail is not for the faint-hearted.. if you want a workout, this one will do it!