Saturday, May 19, 2012

Andrews Bald 4/09/2012

Andrews Bald is the easiest bald to access in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This hike is 1.8 miles each way starting from the Clingmans Dome parking lot.  Near the parking area are chemical toilets and a park store.  The store has maps, books, and souvenirs but no snacks or drinks.  As you leave the parking lot heading towards Clingmans Dome the trail head is almost immediately on your left.

 It is an short easy downhill walk to another trail intersection.  We take a left turn here and head further downhill.  The trail in this area is quite rocky but not overly difficult.  After descending the trail levels off and we have a view of our destination.  The bald is on the backs side of the far end of the ridge we can see ahead of us and to the right.

The trail is leveler here although still somewhat downhill.  We crossed several sections that were damp even on this dry day.  There are board "bridges" in these areas.  The earliest flowers of Spring were beginning to bloom along here.  We reached another trail intersection and continued straight ahead .  All of the intersections were well signed.

After this intersection it is slightly uphill through a peaceful woods to the edge of the bald.  When we come out onto the grassy area we still had about 500 feet to the open viewpoints.  We ate a picnic lunch and enjoyed the views here.  The bald was smaller then others we have visited but large enough for the several groups relaxing here to spread out and have some privacy.

There were several children enjoying running around on the bald as we were preparing to leave.  This would be a fun walk to take with children.  We enjoyed imagining animal shapes in the rocks and walking the "bridges" and we aren't children.  Just remember there is no water available at the trail head so come prepared.  And of course the walk back is harder then the walk out.

After returning to the parking lot we made the half mile walk to the top of Clingmans Dome.  The views are beautiful up there and the wind was really blowing.  The trail is wide and paved but uphill all the way.  This short trail actually felt more strenuous to me then the Andrews Bald trail.

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