Newfound Gap Elevation: 5,049 ft.
Distance: 8.96 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,796 ft.
Start Time: 2:38pm
End Time: 7:45pm
All throughout our week at Pigeon Forge and Great Smoky Mountains National Park I had contemplated a fun way to do a family activity with Clingmans Dome. I also wanted to make sure we had the chance to hike it. The obvious solution kept pointing out a group hiking it from Newfound Gap with the remainder driving the road to the top. The main question was merely who would join the hike and when to go. The plans ended up getting pushed to our last day. Our group of 8 for the hike made it to Newfound Gap just after 2:30pm and we parked and made ready to go. We carried the basics of food and water but not much else. The weather was looking pretty good for our afternoon. Though temps were around 90 down in Gatlinburg, it was just over 70 up at 5,000 feet. We made our way on to the Appalachian Trail crossing the highway at the gap.
|Crossing the road to hit the AT|
|A great group of cousins|
We had hoped with this route being up so high for some good views in places but this would not turn out to be the case. In fact, before reaching Clingmans Dome I would say we only hit 2 or 3 spots with some kind of views and even they were still a bit obstructed.
|Lots of trees and roots|
The first mile plus of the route is a fairly gentle climb up to Pt 5,530. We would find the AT in this section to be very well maintained but still technical with rocks and roots. From that first Point the trail drops to the parking for Indian Gap Road. This would be the only spot where the trail fully pops out to the road. It gets close in several other spots but never fully comes out.
|Trail signs at Indian Gap Road|
|A fascinating way to keep wild hogs out of a protected Beech Tree area|
|One of the rare views|
|Just a few roots on this trail|
|The summit tower and ramp|