There might not be a more popular, or needed, man-made portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, than Newfound Gap. Typically described as a low point between two mountains, Newfound Gap runs straight through the park from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC. It’s also considered the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The old crossing was at a place called Indian Gap which is found just west of Newfound Gap Road. When the lower, easier crossing was discovered, it became known as the “newfound” gap. Construction of a new road followed, and thus, Newfound Gap Road came to be.
The forest ecosystems that one can experiences during a trip down Newfound Gap Road have been compared to those if you were to drive from Georgia to Maine. From native hardwood to pine-oak and northern hardwood, those are just a few species that provide canopy along the way. The woodlands will almost make it seem like you’re traveling through a northern park.
The Appalachian Trail crosses over Newfound Gap Road and straddles the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee for most of its length through the park. Visitors can enjoy a short stroll to stretch their legs or a multi day backpacking excursion on the AT as it runs through the park.
Just south of Newfound Gap, the 7-mile Clingmans Dome Road climbs to within 0.5 mile of Clingmans Dome the highest peak in the Smokies. From the large parking area at the end of the road, a 0.5-mile trail climbs steeply to an observation tower at the “top of old Smoky.” Clingmans Dome Road is closed December 1 – March 31.