View Full Version : Need Help with planning Clingman's dome and Charlie's Bunion trip

02-17-2015, 16:57
Good afternoon everyone. I have been away for about 2 years, but have come back on here as a friend and I are looking to do 3-4 days on the AT. We are hoping to check out Clingman's dome and Charlie's Bunion as I've been told they have some of the best views available. The problem I am having is finding a map with info on the campsites and parking lots/road crossings.

We are only lookign to do 3-4 days at a pace of about 5-8 miles a day. Its a slow pace but we are Florida boys and that elevation is killer for us. Last trip we were overzealous on our miles per day and onyl did about half as much as we expected.

Where can we drop off, see both sites and exit in that area? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

02-17-2015, 17:06
here's a map...


02-17-2015, 17:28
here's a map...


That map is a very good resource.
You also need to understand the new-ish rules for camping in the Smokies. http://smokiespermits.nps.gov/
Three or four days is enough to complete half the park, but you'll have to pick up your pace a little. You could start at Clingman's Dome and go north to Davenport Gap, it's a distance of 39.2 miles (see www.atdist.com (http://www.atdist.com)) and would take you right past Charlie's Bunion.

Clingmans Dome, TN

Mount Collins Shelter Side Trail, TN (http://tnlandforms.us/at/m.php?wpt=MtCollin)

US441-Newfound Gap, TN

Icewater Spring Shelter, NC (http://tnlandforms.us/at/m.php?wpt=Icewater)

Pecks Corner Shelter Side Trail, NC (http://tnlandforms.us/at/m.php?wpt=PecksCorn)

Tri-Corner Knob Shelter, NC (http://tnlandforms.us/at/m.php?wpt=Tricorner)

Cosby Knob Shelter, NC (http://tnlandforms.us/at/m.php?wpt=CosbyKnob)

Davenport Gap Shelter, TN (http://tnlandforms.us/at/m.php?wpt=Davenport)

TN32-Davenport Gap, TN

Another option is to car camp at Sugarlands, and access Charlie's Bunion in a dayhike (4 miles one way from NFG). You can drive to Clingman's Dome, then you have a short 1/2 mile paved walk to the summit tower.

02-17-2015, 17:30
Another option is to car camp at Sugarlands,

there's no car camping at sugarlands but either smokemont or elkmont..................

02-17-2015, 17:33
there's no car camping at sugarlands but either smokemont or elkmont..................

You're right. Silly me, I was thinking of the Cades Cove campground. :o

02-17-2015, 17:45
You're right. Silly me, I was thinking of the Cades Cove campground. :o


thats what i thought but just wanted to make sure OP knew............

02-18-2015, 11:21
You can park at Clingman's dome and at Newfound Gap, so if it helps you plan and limit your miles you can always just drive to Clingman's, check out the views, get back in the car and drive back down to Newfound gap and start your hike. But the hike from Clingman's down to Newfound gap isn't too bad since its a pretty nice elevation drop overall. But unless you stop at Mt Collins - a really short day - you have to make it Icewater which will be packed and tougher to get a permit at. And if you're not committed to only doing the AT, you might want to consider hitting up Charles Bunion and then back tracking to the Boulevard trail and spend a night on Mt Leconte (more great views). Then you can head down the Alum Cave and its a much cheaper shuttle or very easy hitch back to your car at either Newfound gap or Clingmans.

02-18-2015, 12:02
I suggest parking at Clingmans Dome (either catching a Sunrise before, or a Sunset after your hike) then looking at the map in the earlier post to loop down to Kephart Shelter (which is a great shelter on a stream rarely used), you can even hike a part of the "Mountains to Sea" trail, then I would head up to "Pecks Corner" Shelter the back way, up the Hughes Ridge Trail, to avoid "Ice Water" Shelter (Which is over used, the busiest on the AT in that stretch) then hike S on the AT to "Mt Collins" Shelter ( a nice shelter but routinely visited by bears) then continue S back to Clingmans. Enjoy!!


02-18-2015, 18:52

Since your Avatar is a hammock hanger, you should know that you will not be allowed to hang your hammock along the AT in GSMNP.

In GSMNP, you can only camp at designated camp sites, and along the AT, all the designated camp sites you will pass will all be shelters. Hammocks are treated like tents, and tents are not allowed at shelters. There is an over-flow exception for thru-hikers, but the type of trip you are describing will require a general purpose permit and not a thru permit.

Clingman's Dome and Charlie's Bunion are only 11 miles apart, Clingman's Dome is only 1/2 mile from the parking lot, and Charlie's Bunion is only 4 miles from New Found Gap.
Since both sights could be seen on the same day as day hikes, you've got many options open to you.

If you want to hike the AT from Clingman's Dome to Charlie's bunion, the only itinerary that will allow you to do that within the limits you've set and NOT utilize some method of shuttling is Clingman's Dome Parking Lot to Mt Collins Shelter to Ice Water Springs Shelter, back to Mt. Collin's Shelter and back to Clingman's Dome Parking Lot.

If you're willing to see Clingman's Dome as a day hike, I would suggest the following itenarary IF you want to avoid the need for a shuttle:
Day 1: Drive to Clingman's Dome Parking lot and hike up to the observation tower. Drive to New Found Gap and hike to Ice Water Springs shelter (with a side trip to 'The Jumpoff' near the intersection of the Boulevard trail.
Day 2: Hike out to Charlie's Bunion, then double back to Ice Water Springs shelter, and then take the Boulevard trail to LeConte Shelter.
Day 3: Hike back down Boulevard/AT to return to your car.