For some time folks have been asking for an Appalachian Trail (AT) hike, so this is for you and will also be the first in a new series of hikes that I am calling High Point Hikes. http://geology.com/state-high-points.shtml
The objective of the High Point Hikes series will be to reach the summit of the highest point in each of the 50 United States. A dozen of these high points are within easy reach of Memphis, and they will be the first on our list.
At 6,643 ft, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the State of Tennessee. At the summit there is a free observation tower, and on a clear day it offers views (over a 100 miles) well worth the climb.
Speaking of the climb, this will be a shuttle hike: we will drive up to the Clingmans Dome parking area, and then cram everyone into 1-2 cars and head back down to the trailhead on the AT at Newfound Gap. This is a strenuous hike, but anyone who has come on our regular hikes at Herb Parsons, Lucius Burch, or Shelby Forrest should be able to do this. One way it is 7.9 miles, with the last 2 miles being the worst, so you will definitely want to be able to ride back down.
For the less adventuresome, there is a ½ mile paved trail from the Clingmans Dome parking lot up to the observation tower.
My family and I will already be camping in the Smokies that weekend, but for those coming from Memphis, I would highly recommend driving out Friday night (its a little more than 7 hrs drive). The start time for the hike is tentative right now, and may be moved back to 9 am, but I would suggest no later than that, as the last time I did this hike it took almost 8 hours.
For those wanting to camp, I recommend camping both Friday and Saturday night, and then heading back to Memphis on Sunday. Deep Creek (1800 ft with 108 sites) and Elkmont (2150 ft with 220 sites) Campgrounds are the closest frontcountry camping. See the GSMNP Frontcountry Campground Page for information, including reservations, on these sites.
More details to follow.