Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Appalachian Trail to Silers Bald

After a week of not hiking, we were back out there today.  With the warmer temperatures we’re selecting higher elevation trails.  Today we drove up to Clingman’s Dome for a walk out the AT to Silers Bald.

Our hike started with a half mile hike uphill on the paved path which leads to Clingman’s Dome observation tower.  The Appalachian Trail passes next to the tower and we headed south.  It was a pretty clear day so the views were special. This section of the AT traverses the ridge and offers spectacular views from both sides of the trail.

We took our time walking down (everything is down from Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee) to Silers Bald.  We stopped to enjoy the views and we talked with several other hikers who were headed north on the trial.

A little over halfway we reached Double Spring Gap shelter.  It was a good spot for a break.  Like the rest of the shelters in the Smokies, it has been renovated recently.  The benches and cooking porches are a real improvement.  The skylights make such a big difference inside the shelter.  It is actually light inside and not so dark, dank, and dreary as in the old shelter days.

Most, but not all the shelters in the Smokies have composting privies.  This one at Double Spring Gap shelter is of the open air style.  Talk about a room with a view.

Immediately past the shelter, we saw a deer back in the woods.  He was well hidden and I only got a glimpse of one eye and a nose.  Shortly after the deer sighting, we found this cute bunny in the trail.  The trail maintaining crew had recently passed this way with a sling blade or weed eater.  I guess the bunny thought lunch had been served.  He was happy as a lark munching on the cut vegetation.  We stood still on the trail and he came right up to us.

Silers Bald was once an open bald, but not so any longer.  It has been reclaimed by trees and there are no longer any views from the bald.  There is a large rock with AT blazes and arrows painted on it.

We saw this bird, but I haven't a clue what he is.
We continued on past the bald to Silers Bald shelter for our lunch.  After a nice break we headed back to the car.  The return trip was mostly uphill, gaining that 1000 feet we lost as we came off Clingman’s Dome.

Clingman's Dome Parking lot.  We still have a way to go yet.
We made one change on the way back.  We went down the Clingman’s Dome Bypass trail instead of going on up and taking the paved path down.  That was a mistake as that trail was rough, rocky, and wet.  It could certainly use a little maintenance.

Besides the bunny and the views, the highlight of the day was the flame azalea in full bloom along the trail.  Really, the whole hike was great.  It is one of our favorites in the Smokies, even if there is that big climb at the end of the day.

We are glad to welcome our latest follower, Dell.  Thanks, Dell, for tagging along.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. Thanks for all the pictures, Judi. You guys sure get to see some beautiful scenery. Did you bring the bunny home to Peanut for a playmate?

    1. Peanut would have loved a new playmate, but I just couldn't find a spot for another litter box.

  2. Nice hike. Love the azaleas. And the bunny is super cute!

  3. You captured some pretty spectacular views today. Like you, I've taken a few 'shortcuts' down the hills only to wish I didn't. I sure like seeing those old shelters.

  4. I did a search for you by image on the internet and I think the bird is an Eastern Towhee. Whenever I do a search for me I either find nothing or it takes forever, but I found yours within a few minutes! He sure is a cutie!