Andrews Bald is a popular day hike near Clingmans Dome. Located on a ridge below the timberline, Andrews Bald is a treeless grassy meadow. Balds are common to the southern Appalachians, but it is unknown how or why these balds came about. Common speculation is that they were cleared and used by early settlers for grazing purposes so that the lower elevations could be used for growing crops during the summer months. Today, Andrews Bald is maintained by the National Park Service and provides tourists with a fantastic spot to soak in some Great Smoky Mountain views.
The trail starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot. Head to the Forney Ridge Trail and follow it for about 1.8 miles. Wooden and rock steps are plentiful, and elevated boardwalks are found along a section of the trail. As you approach the bald, vegetation starts to clear and views begin to appear. From the bald, look to the south and southwest for panoramic views stretching across the Smokies and down to Fontana Lake. Return to the trailhead via the Forney Ridge Trail. If you wish to explore further, try taking the Forney Creek Trail. This trail is very steep and poorly maintained in spots. However, it leads into a remote area of the park where several backcountry campsites are located.