Clingman’s Dome

If you ever find yourself in the Great Smoky Mountains, be sure to stop by Clingman’s Dome. At an elevation of over 6,600 feet, it is the highest point in the national park and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail.

The observation tower was built in 1959 and resembles a concrete spaceship landed on top of a mountain. Odd as it seems, it provides a panoramic view of the area. On a clear day, you can see about a hundred miles.

So they say.

Sadly, I have been a few times but never had much of a view from the tower, thanks to air pollution. The highlight for me at this part of the park is the access to the Appalachian Trail.

It’s a nice section and the whole experience is a pleasant reminder that it’s better to get down on the trail where you’re close to nature than to stand on a man made pedestal of concrete and look at it.

Beautiful view, isn’t it?

If you go, there is ample parking and the trail to the observation tower is paved but it is rather steep. Consequently, it isn’t handicap accessible and if you have any kind of health or mobility problems, be sure to take it slow and rest if needed.

The road to this area of the park is scenic and offers some pull offs but it is closed during winter months.

Thinking about visiting the Great Smoky Mountains? It’s an interesting place as it offers plenty of room to get out and enjoy nature alone. There’s also a lot of trails and overlooks overpopulated with people and lots of tourist traps in the form of dinner theaters, shopping and museums.

Dolly Parton, the unofficial patron saint of Appalachia has her Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. Plus, Paula Deen, the patron saint of Butter has a nice restaurant there too. It has been a few years since my last trip down but I may trot out some of those stories if anyone is interested.

Gloomy Day Musings

blog.JPGIt has been gloomy here in southeastern Ohio for a few days now. The rain has settled in and, despite promises of pleasant weather this weekend, it’s starting to feel like the sun is on permanent leave.

This has caused me to reminisce about a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains three years ago this week. We had lovely weather for most of the week but the day we visited Clingman’s Dome was gloomy.

Incidentally, the visit to Clingman’s Dome included a short hike on the Appalachian Trail which runs right through the Smokys. It was my first experience on the trail and a memorable one. It is a dream of mine to hike the AT. At my age and position in life, it would have to be in sections but I think it’s a worthwhile goal. That would be an incredible adventure!

But I digress.

We saw some amazing things on this trip but, for some reason, this image has stayed with me and has become iconic to that trip. It’s not the most beautiful picture I took that trip but it’s haunting and beautiful and I like it anyway.