by Steve Pierce, hike leader
Twenty-five hikers came out for a 9-mile in/out hike from Clingmans Dome to Silers Bald.
We were greeted by overcast skies and a very mild 70 degrees at the Clingmans Dome parking area. Since the observation tower was socked in by clouds, we ascended the paved path to the AT crossing and headed south on the storied Appalachian Trail.
The sun and clouds played hide-and-seek during the morning hours, but eventually the sun won out and we caught some views as we traversed the ridgeline.
We stopped for a snack break at the Goshen Prong Trail junction and then continued on ascending and descending from peaks to gaps.
Challenge of trail’s ups and downs
The last half mile was a steep ascent to Silers Bald, elevation 5,607.
The name implies a peak with no trees, but the forest has reclaimed Silers Bald. There is one small viewpoint off the AT, otherwise small trees cover the “bald.” We had lunch at a grassy area amid trees.
Our hike back provided the real challenge of the day. The general trend of the hike out was from 6,600 elevation to 5,607. The math tells the story – we were in for quite a bit if elevation gain on the hike back to Clingmans Dome.
We had the same ups and downs as the hike out, with the greatest ascent coming in the last mile over Mt. Buckley and across to the paved trail at Clingmans Dome.
Add to that a very humid day, and you have the ingredients for a tough hike.
We took out time and hiked at our individual speeds. Several hikers opted to visit the observation tower at the end of the hike.
We all had a sense of accomplishment and had a good workout as we returned to the parking area.
For several hikers, the Silers Bald hike checked off one of the 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge Challenge run by the Carolina Mountain Club. More on that in another blog post.
Steve Pierce, a retired teacher from Marion, North Carolina, has hiked all the trails in the Smokies twice. He completed the South Beyond 6000 challenge, summiting 40 peaks of 6,000 ft. He reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu, and walked the Camino Portuguese to Santiago de Compostela. Steve led the charge of updating and producing ‘100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and Carolina Blue Ridge,’ a map and new hiking challenge.
Register for Classic Hikes
Classic Hikes of the Smokies are the second Tuesday of the month, from March through December.
The cost is $20 per hike for current members of Friends of the Smokies, and $35 for new and renewing members of Friends of the Smokies (includes one-year membership and hike registration).
The next hike is Chimney Tops on July 12. You must register prior to the hike.
Many of the Classic Hikes are part of the 100 Favorite Trails Challenge. Twentymile Loop = #4, Lakeshore Loop = #5, Silers Bald to Clingmans Dome = #21, Chimney Tops = #22, Walker Sisters Cabin = #24, Porters Creek Trail = #25.
Trails Forever improves GSMNP trails
Proceeds from the Classic Hike series benefit Trails Forever.