Magellan, Paycheck, Story and Theory
The Andrews Bald trailhead is located at the base of the trail leading up to Clingman’s Dome. As with any trail in the mountains, go prepared for weather changes of 40 degrees and the possibility of rain. No matter what it looks like in the parking lot.
RT it’s 3.5 miles. This is a perfect hike with younger kids, for a picnic lunch or dinner or just to get away from the larger crowds and enjoy the view. We went on Memorial Day and there were 20 people the whole route. One particularly sweet guy was just sure everyone failed to bring enough water and was running around trying to give water bottles to people. I’d recommend having more than you think you will need, that elevation change heading back is gradual and sneaky! You do more work than you may realize.
To be such a short trail, there’s a wide variation in construction! It was high enough up that even at the end of May, the bluets had just come out
What to expect: there are bathrooms at the trailhead, no water in the bathrooms or along the trail, so be sure you bring some! There was a small stream below the parking area, I would not want to rely on that for drinking water. Too much chance of car fluids in the mix.
There is VERY LITTLE cover along the trail for ‘stepping off’. Pack out your tissue from this area, PLEASE.
The walk up to Clingman’s Dome is well worth it if you have the time or it’s not jam-packed (it was on Memorial Day!). The parking area at the top is very large, but you may have to circle a few times to get a spot in high use times. Arriving early and taking the first spot you come to instead of trying for somewhere ‘closer’ are good suggestions!