Flanking the south edge of Clingmans Dome, the Forney Ridge Trail leads hikers on a 3.6-mile round trip trek to beautiful Andrews Bald.
Nothing is more motivating to hikers than the promise of a pretty view at the end of their journey, and the Forney Ridge Trail boasts both sprawling views and pretty wooded vegetation along its footpath. The trail begins from the Clingmans Dome parking lot and descends into lower elevations before leveling out into a spacious stretch. Hikers should bear to the right of the trail after the 1.1-mile mark. The trail’s final ascent will deliver you into the meadowed fields of Andrews Bald, which derives its name from the cattle herder, Andres Thompson, who brought his cattle and family to the bald after the 1840s. Flame azaleas and Catawba rhododendrons color the bald from mid-to-late June.
While reconstruction of the trail in the mid-2000s has reshaped the trail into a moderate, accessible footpath, the trail’s natural landscape can be rugged. Be prepared to traverse along the Forney Ridge Trail with the proper gear:
• Sturdy footwear
• 32-ounce water bottle
• Light jacket
• Trekking poles (in some cases)
Temperatures at the Clingmans Dome area can be 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands, making breathable, layered clothing a smart idea no matter the season. Another smart idea: pack a nice lunch and blanket for a spectacular picnic on the bald’s comfy grasslands. Just be sure to abide by the park’s Leave No Trace etiquette.
There is no better way to experience the natural wonder of the Smokies than on the trail and if you still have some hiking adventures to cross off your summer bucket list, Forney Ridge Trail might be the route for you.