Southeastern Outdoors Backpacking in the Brooks Range
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Backpacking from
Clingman's Dome to Cades Cove

Distance: 23 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Clingmans Dome Coordinates
Latitude: N 3533'46"
Longitude: W 8329'56"
Elevation: 6,643'

Cades Cove Campground Coordinates
Latitude: 35 36.204'N
Longitude: 83 46.529'W
Elevation: 1,800
 

Important! Clingmans Dome Road is closed in the winter. This is a one-way trip so you will have to either have two cars or have someone pick you up at Cades Cove or drop you off at Clingman's Dome. This trip is rated moderate when traveling from Clingmans to Cades Cove. However, it is rated strenuous when going from Cades Cove to Clingmans Dome. If you leave a car at Cades Cove park it in the parking lot across from the ranger station. If you park at the picnic area don't expect your car to be there when you get back, it will be towed.

A seventy mile section of the Appalachian Trail crosses through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the trail wonders in and out of Tennessee and North Carolina.

This trip covers a 17 mile section of the AT and starts at Clingmans Dome in the center of the park and you travel southwest on the AT for most of the trip until the final decent into Cades Cove Valley.


Map of Appalachian Trail .pdf 1Mb
Smoky Mountain Map - Trails
 

Reservations are required for all backcountry campsites and shelters and can be made by calling (865) 436-1231.
Clingman's Dome Parking Area 0.0 - Short but strenuous hike from the parking lot up to the Appalachian Trail. There are two trails leading up to the AT both are about 1/2 mile long. The paved trail that passes right in front of the restrooms is a little shorter and closer to the observation tower at the top.
Clingman's Dome  - .5

Highest elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, also the highest elevation on the Appalachian trail and 2nd highest mountain east of the Mississippi river. There is an observation tower open to the public at the top of the mountain. Another interesting thing about Clingman's Dome is that this is the western terminus to the Mountain to Sea trail.
 

 
Double Spring Gap Shelter - 3.4
Latitude: 35 33.91'N
Longitude: 83 32.571'W
Elevation: 5,505'

 

 
Siler's Bald 4.9
Siler's Bald Shelter - 5.0
Latitude: 35 33.851'N
Longitude: 83 34.1'W
Elevation: 5,460'

 

 
The next 34 miles of trail of the trail are the highest of the entire Appalachian Trail all reaching higher than 5,000 feet.
Buckeye Gap - 7.8
Sam's Gap - 10.4
Derrick Knob Shelter - 10.6
Latitude: 35 33.974'N
Longitude: 83 38.514'W
Elevation: 4,890'

 

 
Sugar Tree Gap - 11.7
Mineral Gap - 14.1
Beechnut Gap - 14.8
Thunderhead, east peak - 15.1
Pretty steep downhill section through mature hardwoods.
Rocky Top - 15.7
a great place to take a break or have lunch. Great views of valleys below.
 
Eagle Creek Trail to Spence Field Shelter(4,900'); Bote Mountain Trail - 16.9
 
Spence Field Shelter - 17.2 Latitude: 35 33.707'N
Longitude: 83 43.963'W
Elevation: 4,915'

It's all down hill from here!
 

 
From Spence Field shelter make your way back to the trail intersection of the AT and the Bote Mountain trail. From here head north on the Bote Mountain trail for 1.7 miles
Anthony Creek Trail 18.9 - go left at this trail intersection.  After about 1/2 mile you will see campsite #9 on the left, continue heading down the mountain.
Russell Field Trail intersection 20.8 - Russell field trail comes in from the left. Continue down to what turns into a gravel road, passing the horse camp. The trail emerges into the back of the Cades Cove picnic area. From here follow the picnic loop road out to the entrance and turn left following the road towards the ranger station and parking area.
 
Cades Cove Ranger Station - 23
Ranger Station, small store, campground, telephones, restrooms.
 
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Related Links & Resources:
Abrams Falls Geology

 

 
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