The trailhead for Silers Bald, which is located near the Clingmans Dome parking area, is the highest elevation (6,400′) of any trailhead in the Smoky Mountains National Park! This high-country, ridgeline 9.3 mile roundtrip hike is sure to simultaneously challenge and amaze you.
The Silers Bald hike begins at the Forney Ridge Trailhead. Approximately one-tenth of a mile into the trail, veer right on the Clingmans Dome bypass trail (towards the Appalachian Trail).
The next half-mile will be a moderate climb along a rugged and rocky pathway through a spruce-fir forest. Once you reach the Appalachian Trail near Mount Buckley, turn left and continue towards Silers Bald.
The next section of the trail was burned-over in the recent past and the lack of tree cover opens up the views. If you are hiking on a clear day, the next stretch of hiking offers stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and forests!
In addition to the panoramic views, wildflower enthusiasts will enjoy the occasional white trillium, and violet along this section of the trail.
At 2.6 miles, you will reach a fork in the trail to the right (Goshen Prong Trail) – stay straight ahead on the Appalachian Trail and continue your descent to the Double Spring Gap Shelter approximately a half-mile ahead.
At 4.5 miles, you will reach the Welch Ridge Trail junction. Although you will see a sign that says Silers Bald is 0.4 miles away, that is not correct. The summit is just over one-tenth of a mile from here! The sign only applies if you are planning to hike to the shelter.
Just past 4.6 miles, you will reach Silers Bald. The exact spot is marked with an embedded USGS survey marker in a large rock.From the summit, there is a small side trail to your right that offers excellent views of Miry Ridge and the Tennessee side of the Smoky Mountains.
Make sure to save some energy for return trip – the majority of the hike back to the trailhead is uphill. Silers Bald sits at an elevation of at an elevation of 5,607′, the low spot on the trail back to the trailhead is just under 5,400′, and you will reach a height of nearly 6,600′ on the trail back!
Directions to Trailhead:
From downtown Gatlinburg, head into the Smoky Mountains National Park. Once you reach the Sugarlands Visitor Center on your right, take note of your mileage and drive straight. Continue on Newfound Gap Road for another 13.2 miles. After passing the Newfound Gap parking area on your left, turn right on Clingmans Dome Road. Continue 7 miles until the road dead ends into the Clingmans Dome parking area. After you find your parking spot, which can be a challenge on busy days, locate the Forney Ridge Trailhead and start hiking!
-Clingmans Dome Road is seasonally closed from December 1st to March 31st due to winter conditions. During these months, you cannot navigate to the Silers Bald trailhead.
-If you plan to camp at Silers Bald in the summer, the weekends get extremely crowded – opt for weekday camping instead.
-Even in the summer, sections of the trail have cooler temperatures (65-degree July highs) and experience regular rainfall with 90+ inches annually.