After hiking down to Andrew’s Bald via the Forney Ridge Trail, instead of coming back to the parking lot and then hiking to Clingman’s Dome from there, Mom and I just hopped on the connecting bypass trail instead. The Bypass Trail takes you 0.5-mi from the Forney Ridge Trail to the Appalachian Trail (“AT”). Hikers then take the AT to Clingman’s Dome, which is an additional 0.3-mi jaunt.
Word of warning: Pay attention at the AT junction! Mom and I accidentally went the wrong direction and hiked over 0.25-mi out of our way before we realized our mistake and had to head back.
Once we reached the Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower, we were tired and hungry, but the clouds were rapidly moving in and we knew we would need to get a move-on. We climbed the Observation Tower, which was packed with dozens of other tourists, before taking the 0.5-mi paved Clingman’s Dome trail back to the parking lot. On the way down, it started to rain, so we sprinted to the gift shop at the base of the trail. Gotta say, that’s probably the only time I’ve ever run in hiking boots before lol.