Kuwohi (Clingmans Dome) & Mt. Collins Hike Route Map

Kuwohi /ᎫᏬᎯ (Clingmans Dome) & Mt. Collins, NC/TN

Kuwohi (ᎫᏬᎯ) vs. Clingman's Dome

In 2022 the Tribal Counsel of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians voted in favor of a petition to restore the original Cherokee name of Kuwohi (ᎫᏬᎯ) , meaning 'Mulberry place', to the the peak currently known as Clingman's Dome.  As a way of acknowledging the significant cultural and spiritual importance this mountain has, and to support the Cherokee in this cause, I have decided to change all mentions of the mountain on this site to its native ‘Kuwohi’.  Clingmans Dome will still be referred to (though in parenthesis) until such time that an official change is hopefully made by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

To learn more about the effort being made to restore Kuwohi, and to find out how you can help make this change a reality, please visit the following link…

Restore Kuwohi (ᎫᏬᎯ)

If there are two peaks less alike in the Southern Appalachians, yet so close in proximity, I haven't visited them yet. Located along the Appalachian Trail south of Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountians, Kuwohi (Clingman's Dome) and Mt. Collins represent (to me) the best and worst of what the southern mountains can offer. Both peaks top out well over 6,000 feet...Kuwohi (Clingman's Dome) at 6,643' and Mt. Collins at a respectable 6,188'. Mt. Collins, while astride the Appalachian Trail and no doubt visited by hundreds if not thousands of hikers per year, is relatively unknown. I'd wager that most people don't even know they've knocked off a 6K'er when they pass. Kuwohi (Clingman's Dome), on the other hand, is a destination that hundreds of thousands of people visit each year from all over the country...and therein lies the difference. One all but unknown, and one overrun. On top of that there is the difference in the summits. Mt. Collins is tree covered and mostly viewless. Kuwohi (Clingman's Dome) has nice views but at a price. Back in the 60's improvements were being made in all the National Parks in response to greater demand. The demand was for more modern facilities. On Kuwohi (Clingman's Dome) this meant the replacement of the original wooden lookout with a gaudy, concrete spaceship-looking tower. It in no way compliments its surroundings...it's simply hideous to look at. It's a shame that, due to overuse and poor park planning, that such a magnificent peak can be so disappointing. I began my hike from the Clingman's Dome Road where it intersects the Forney Ridge Trail. A short path provided access to the A.T. and I simply headed south the 4-ish miles over Mt. Collins and up to Kuwohi (Clingman's Dome). The weather was supposed to be clear but what the forecast calls for and what actually happens are commonly quite different at these elevations. Clouds, and lots of them, would be the theme of the day. As it turns out, this wasn't such a bad thing. It kept the temps refreshing and, due to a general lack of views along this section of the A.T. you don't really miss out on all that much. One thing the clouds didn't manage to do was keep the crowds away. The hike was one of striking contrasts between wonderful wilderness solitude and irritating, obnoxious crowds. Not a hike I intend to repeat anytime soon but, regardless, #13 and #14 are off the list...

Route Type:  Out-and-back                Difficulty:  VERY HARD  (Petzoldt Rating:  11.68 )

Hike Length:  ~8.0 miles                      Hike Duration:  4:45

Trailhead Temp:  65'F                           Trail Traffic:  1-5 people (100+ @ Kuwohi Summit)

Min. Elevation:  5,640'                           Max. Elevation:  6,643'

Total Vertical Gain:  1,840'                   Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 230'

Trails Used (blaze color):  Appalachian Trail (white)


  • kw

    on August 14, 2012

    Quite the hike, despite the clouds -- agree with your thoughts on the 'space-ship'-- never thought of it that way before, having been there and enjoyed climbing so high to overlook the Mt.--- thanks for sharing!