Highest Peaks of the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is over 800 square miles and totals 520,000 acres. With that being said, there is so much to see and do in the Smokies. Wonderful hikes, balds and waterfalls are throughout the Park. With so much to see, it can quickly become overwhelming on what hike to take and what peak or waterfall to venture to. We have another blog we wrote about some wonderful hikes to do. Here we touch base on the highest peaks of the Smoky Mountains. Some of these peaks like Clingmans Dome and Mount LeConte are some of the top hikes in the Smokies so be sure to add them to your adventure list for your next trip to Pigeon Forge.
Clingmans Dome is the highest mountain peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With an elevation of 6,643 feet, it is also the highest elevation on the Appalachian Trail which stretches from Maine to Georgia and covers 2,174 feet. North Carolina’s Mount Mitchel and Mount Craig are the only two higher peaks east of the Mississippi River.
There is an observation tower at Clingman’s and it offers view for miles. Literally, for 100 miles. Now, it can get cloudy there, but not to fret-even on cloudy days the hike to Clingman’s’ Dome is very much worth it. It is a short walk to the tower and it is paved, but keep in mind it is pretty steep. Be sure you are dressed appropriately as well as temperatures are usually ten to twenty degrees cooler there.
At 6,621 feet, Mount Guyot is the second highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is an isolated and quite remote area where few people ever really venture. Covered in a spruce-fir forest, it lies on the Tennessee and North Carolina border. Mount Guyot is named after the Swiss geographer Arnold Guyot. He measured many Southern Appalachian elevations. He is also the person who discovered that Newfound Gap was the lowest pass through the Great Smoky Mountains thus resulting in Newfound Gap Road being built.
At 6,593 feet, LeConte is the third highest peak. Now, Mount LeConte may not be the highest peak in the Smokies, but it is probably the most popular! There are five different trails that lead to this peak: Alum Cave Trail, The Boulevard Trail, Bullhead Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail and Trillium Gap Trail. Mount LeConte is easily the most heavily visited peak in the National Park. Upon reaching the summit, you will find a lodge where you can dine and stay overnight. The lodge opened in the 1920’s and has been in operation ever since. You can really step back in time at the Lodge as it does not have electricity or water.
Mount Buckley is visible to visitors at Clingman’s Dome and is the fourth highest mountain peak at 6,580 feet. The Appalachian Trail passes over this summit so it does see a lot of travelers. It is named after Samuel Botsford Buckley who first estimated its elevation. He was the State Geologist of Texas.
Located on the same ridgeline as Clingman’s Dome, Mount Love is the fifth highest peak at 6,420 feet. It typically goes unnoticed by visitors to Clingmans Dome as well, but is well worth the extra hike.
Mount Chapman is the sixth highest elevation at 6,417 feet and is quite remote. The Appalachian Trail comes within 200 feet of its summit though. This mountain peak is named after a Knoxville business leader who helped lead efforts to establish the National Park. His name was Colonel David C Chapman.
There are so many notable peaks and hikes worth exploring when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So many, that often it is quite a decision on which one to do. Clingman’s Dome and Mount LeConte are, by far, the most popular. That does not mean these others are not worth seeing. Now, as I mentioned a few of these are quite remote and it does take some planning on your part if you decide to hike to them. The effort will be rewarded though. You can read more about the highest peaks of the Smokies here.