Great Smokey Mts.
“When we fulfill our function, which is to truly love ourselves and share love with others, then true happiness sets in.” Gabrielle Bernstein, May Cause Miracles
Why This Mountain?
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Tennessee and also in the Great Smokey Mountains. It is a mountain on the East Coast that I very much wanted to hike as it is also the highest point of the Appalachian Trail. Rose and I tried to hike Clingmans in October, but an early snow storm caused the road and route to be shut down. Before the road was closed, we drove to the top and it was truly a winter wonderland of snow. The numbers worked out that I get a second chance at Clingmans and it feels right that for my last two peaks I return to the US and have one peak on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. Clingmans is my East Coast peak. I will be joined by a number of dear friends who have been a part of 52 Peaks this year.
Mountain & Route Facts
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of 6,643 feet (2,025 m), it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the 2,174-mile (3,499 km) Appalachian Trail. It is also the third highest point in all of Eastern North America, after the nearby Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet or 2,037 m) and Mount Craig (6,647 feet or 2,026 m).
The Cherokee name for Clingmans Dome was Kuwa’hi, or “mulberry place.” According to a Cherokee myth recorded by ethnologist James Mooney in the late 19th century, the mountain was the home of the White Bear, the great chief of all bears, and the location of one of the bears’ councilhouses. The enchanted lake of Ataga’hi (“Gall Place”), the waters of which could cure wounded bears, was believed by the Cherokee to be located somewhere between Clingmans Dome and the headwaters of the Oconaluftee River to the east.
The mountain was dubbed “Smoky Dome” by American settlers moving in from other areas. In 1859, the mountain was renamed by Arnold Guyot for compatriot Thomas Lanier Clingman (1812–1897), an American Civil War general who explored the area extensively in the 1850s and then spent many years promoting it. Guyot named the mountain for Clingman because of an argument between Clingman and a professor at the University of North Carolina, Elisha Mitchell, over which mountain was actually the highest in the region. Mitchell contended that a peak by the name of Black Dome (now known as Mount Mitchell) was the highest, while Clingman asserted that Smoky Dome was the true highest peak. Guyot determined that Black Dome was 39 feet (12 m) higher than Smoky Dome.
There are a couple of trails to the top of Clingmans Dome. The Appalachian Trail is 15.4 miles with approximately 1700′ of gain. There is also the Forney Creek route which is 13.6 miles. We plan to hike the Appalachian Trail.
Historical and Cultural Information
Tennessee is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia to the north, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, and Arkansas and Missouri to the west. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state’s western border. Tennessee’s capital and second largest city is Nashville, which has a population of 654,610. Memphis is the state’s largest city, with a population of 655,770.
The state of Tennessee is rooted in the Watauga Association, a 1772 frontier pact generally regarded as the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Occupied by Union forces from 1862, it was the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war. Tennessee furnished more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state besides Virginia, and more soldiers for the Union Army than the rest of the Confederacy combined.
In the 20th century, Tennessee transitioned from an agrarian economy to a more diversified economy, aided by massive federal investment in the Tennessee Valley Authority and, in the early 1940s, the city of Oak Ridge. This city was established to house the Manhattan Project’s uranium enrichment facilities, helping to build the world’s first atomic bomb, which was used during World War II.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited national park, is headquartered in the eastern part of the state, and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Other major tourist attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga; Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg; the Parthenon, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg; Elvis Presley’s Graceland residence and tomb, the Memphis Zoo, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; and Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol.