10 Highest Peaks on the Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail hikers are constantly climbing or descending. Some of those climbs take us to the highest peaks you’ll find anywhere in the eastern U.S.  We did some digging to determine the 10 highest peaks on the Appalachian Trail.

In turns out that most of the highest points on the trail are on the North Carolina / Tennessee border. In fact, New Hampshire’s Mount Washington is the only entry on this list that’s north of Virginia.

How many of these summits have you climbed?

The 10 Highest Peaks on the Appalachian Trail

#1. Clingmans Dome

  • Height: 6643 feet
  • Location: On the North Carolina / Tennessee border
  • Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Directly on the AT: Yes
  • Details: Clingmans Dome has three claims to fame, being the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains, in Tennessee and on the Appalachian Trail. There’s an observation tower on the summit which offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies. The Appalachian Trail goes right over the summit of Clingmans Dome, close to the tower.

clingmans dome

#2. Mount Guyot

  • Height: 6621 feet
  • Location: On the North Carolina / Tennessee border
  • Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Directly on the AT: The summit is within half-a-mile.
  • Details: The summit of Mount Guyot isn’t a particularly popular destination. The mountain is an a rugged and isolated part of the Smokies. You’ll need to bushwhack your way to the peak

mount guyot

#3. Old Black

  • Height: 6370 feet
  • Location: On the North Carolina / Tennessee border
  • Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Directly on the AT: The summit is within a mile of the trail
  • Details: Old Black is only a mile away from Mount Guyot and is similar in many ways. There are beautiful views from the summit of Old Black, but as with Guyot you’ll need to bushwhack your way to the top.

old-black

#4. Mount Washington

  • Height: 6288 feet
  • Location: New Hampshire
  • Directly on the AT: Yes
  • Parks: White Mountain National Forest and Mount Washington State Park
  • Details: Mount Washington is the highest peak in the north-east. It’s famous for crazy weather including, for many years, the strongest wind’s ever recorded on land.

Mt-Washington

#5. Roan High Knob

  • Height: 6285 feet
  • Location: On the North Carolina / Tennessee border
  • Parks: Cherokee National Forest and Pisgah National Forest
  • Directly on the AT: Yes
  • Details: The Roan High Knob Shelter is the highest backcountry shelter. Out of all the peaks on this list, Roan High Knob has been one of the busiest. Amongst other things, there used to be a hotel on the summit that attracted famous politicians and European royalty.

roan-high

#6. Grassy Ridge Bald

  • Height: 6165 feet
  • Location: On the North Carolina / Tennessee border
  • Park: Pisgah National Forest
  • Directly on the AT: Within half a mile
  • Details: Grassy Ridge Bald is part of a series of multiple peaks that includes Roan High Knob Shelter, #4 on this list.

Grassy Bald Roan Mountains

#7. Mount Rogers

  • Height: 5728 feet
  • Location: Virginia
  • Parks: Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest
  • Directly on the AT: Within half a mile
  • Details: Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia. There are no roads to the top of Mount Rogers but the hike is easy, making this one of the most popular summits on this list.

mount-rogers

#8. Thunderhead Mountain

  • Height: 5527 feet
  • Location: Tennessee
  • Parks: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Directly on the AT: Yes
  • Details: Thunderhead Mountain is a famous part of a Tennessee, or to be more precise, a ridge on the mountain called Rocky Top is famous. Rocky Top was immortalized in a song that’s popular all over the state. The Appalachian Trail passed right over Thunderhead Mountain.

Thunderhead Mountain

#9. Whitetop Mountain

  • Height: 5518 feet
  • Location: Virginia
  • Park: Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
  • Directly on the AT: Yes
  • Details: Just seven miles south of Mount Rogers, #7 on this list, you can drive right to the top. It’s easy enough to reach that there used to be a popular folk festival on the summit.

Whitetop

#10. Big Bald

  • Height: 5516 feet
  • Location: On the North Carolina / Tennessee border
  • Parks: Cherokee National Forest and the Pisgah National Forest
  • Directly on the AT: Yes
  • Details: Big Bald is accurately named. The top 300 feet of the mountain are completely barren. The A.T. is the only way to the top of Big Bald which offers beautiful views in every direction.

Big-bald

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Wikipedia for many of these images and particularly Brian Stansberry.

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