While Knoxville may not be the winter destination folks flock to when they want to enjoy knee-deep snow, when those little flurries do start drifting down, that's the time to pull out your cross country skiis, snowshoes and sled. There are places to go, trails to explore and snowbears to be built!
Hiking: After a snowfall, the park's landscape is enriched with woods blanketed in snow, icicles hanging from rock ledges, waterfalls frozen mid-stream, and delicate hoar frost that coats winter's vegetation. The trails in the park are one of the best places to head to when the weather calls for snow. It's important to call and check for any road closures before heading out. A few accessories that are very beneficial for winter hiking are a pair of Yaktrax for your hiking shoes to help you navigate icy trails, trekking poles to keep your balance, and gaiters to keep you warm and dry when the snow is deep.
Skiing and Snowshoeing: The 7-mile stretch of Clingman's Dome Road makes a perfect snow trail from December 1 to March 31 when the Park closes the road to vehicular traffic. At 6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Smokies so it probably gets more snow than anywhere else in the Park. Being closed in the winter, the road never gets plowed so when we get snow, conditions are excellent for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing! Before heading out, check to see if the road to the Newflound Gap parking area is open. This is the best place to park for access to the gated Dome Road. Snowshoers can also access the Appalachian Trail that leaves the Newfound Gap parking lot. In addition, there is a nature trail at the far end of the Newfound Gap parking area that's fun to explore.
Snow or no snow, from late November to early January, Holidays on Ice provides a wonderful ice skating rink for some winter-time fun in the heart of downtown! There is a charge for admission and you can rent or bring your own skates — it's a fun activity for the whole family!