A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! The sun and moon are literally lining up!
The longest day of the year (6AM-9PM), the moon at 92% illumination, and ALL on a Saturday.
The route will be an 18-mile loop SW of Clingman's Dome. (Highest point in the Park, second highest east of the Mississippi.) Pg. 36 of HikingTrails of the Smokies by the GSM Assoc.
The plan is to leave Nashville around 6PM on Friday night and drive to the trailhead (Elkmont Campsite). With stops and the change to Eastern Time, it will be around midnight by the time we stop. But we can rotate drivers along the way so people can nap.
Get an early start on Saturday. Drive to the Clingman's Dome parking lot and do a 0.5-mile to the lookout tower (beating the crowds). A 10.4-mile hike to Campsite 70. Or, if we're making good time, another 2 miles to Campsite 69.
Early start on Sunday, and back to Nashville.
Stop for lunch/dinner along the way.
Backpacker.com doesn't have a trail description posted, but if you go to Google Maps, you can see all of the route. (Search for Clingman's Dome, and then go through the Layers menu, Places of Interest, Parks and Recreation Areas, US National Parks, Trails.)
If you zoom out too much, you lose the trail. But start at Clingman's Dome and pan west to Siler's Bald, then south to Welch Ridge Trail, southeast to the campsite icon (Campsite 70), then back northwest to Clingman's Dome.
There is a $20 fee for the campsite on Friday. Guaranteed spot, running water. I will pay it. Donations would be appreciated.
Contact me with questions or suggestions