There's a reason why the Great Smoky Mountains are considered a relic of nature in the South - whether you're standing at their base or standing atop them, you'll experience views that make you question how something so astonishing is actually real. If you want to experience what it's like to be on top of the world, this easy hike in Tennessee will have you feeling like royalty.
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smokies, showcasing insane views of up to seven states at a time on the clearest of days. The payoff is just as rewarding if you come on a day with less visibility, with an average view of 22 miles off into the distance.
You'd think that you have to hike a lifetime to access all this beauty, but this is far from a strenuous hike. If you want to take on the easiest hiking option, park in the lot off Clingmans Dome Road. From there, you'll have a 0.5-mile trek along a paved road.
Once you make it up the steep road, your destination is a 54-foot observation tower that straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee border. You'll literally be in two states at once.
Do be warned: since the mountain is 6,643 feet above sea level, it gets way chillier than ground level. You might also find that the air is a little thinner. Bundle up, bring some blankets, and catch the sunrise or sunset.
The easy road to get to the lookout tower is closed for drivers from Dec. 1 to Mar. 31, so you have to take a longer trail if you still want to experience the mountain in the winter.
The size of the mountain only comes second to this mountain in North Carolina with the tallest point east of the Mississippi, with equally stunning views.
Address: Clingmans Dome, Forneys Creek, NC 28713
Why You Need To Go: You don't even have to put a ton of work to experience these incredible views.