There are many mountains to climb and valleys to walk through on the Appalachian Trail. One of these mountaintop experiences is Clingmans Dome. At 6,643 feet, it the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and the highest elevation on the entire A.T. Clingmans Dome is a very popular spot within the GSMNP and it is located along the state-line ridge of North Carolina and Tennessee. Half of the dome is actually in NC and the other half falls in TN.
There is an outstanding observation tower located on the summit. This observation tower offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Smokies. On a good day, the tower provides its visitors with a view extending over 100 miles (but you do have to climb the steep ½ mile assent to the top of the tower). Unfortunately, air pollution, heavy mist, and low clouds often limit the spectacular photo shoot to less than 20 miles. The observation tower sits 199.1 miles into my hike and I hope to stand at the summit during the first full week of May.
Lots of precipitation (rain and snow) and cold temperatures are common at this high point along the trail – temperatures at the summit can be 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. Amazingly, the continual wet conditions that exist on the top of the mountain ridge make the forest that grows there a coniferous rainforest.
Check out http://www.clingmansdome.com/