Chimney Top Trail – Your Gatlinburg Hiking Guide

Nothing compares to the heart-pounding thrill of completing your first Chimney Tops Trail hike. Inhale that fresh Smoky Mountain air as you traverse forests of maple, birch, and hickory as you ascend to the summit.

Follow along to discover everything you need to know about Chimney Tops trail.

This strenuous hike is considered one of the most popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to its relatively short length and stunning panoramic views.

Plan your hike for spring to soak in the whimsical beauty of fields of wildflowers. Or make the ascent during fall and be blessed with the riotous hues of changing foliage.

Visitors should plan their adventure with caution, as in addition to photo-op-worthy snapshots of Mount LeConte, they will be met with a steep elevation gain of 1,400 feet in nearly 2 miles.

Ready to reach the top? Read on…

About the Chimney Top Trail Smoky Mountains

Wondering just what lies in store with the Chimney Tops Trail? Clocking in at nearly 4 miles roundtrip, many hikers initially underestimate the difficulty of this strenuous trail. In addition, due to the elevation gain of nearly 900 feet per mile, this path can prove quite challenging!

The trail’s first section contains many picturesque footbridges and follows the cascading Road Prong Trail along the .9-mile route to the Beech Flats. Hikers attempting Chimney Top Trail Red River Gorge during spring or early summer should keep their eyes peeled for an abundance of fauna and flora. Arrival at the trail junction at Beech Flats will signify the hike’s halfway point.

It is at this junction where you will begin to climb roughly 730 feet over 2/3 of a mile. Finally, the trail will swing northward and you will ascend the ridge leading towards the summit, culminating at a height of 4,840 feet. Please note that due to a fire years ago, the final .25 mile section of Chimney remains closed to the public.

Related Post: Gatlinburg Hidden Gems: 7 Secret Spots You Don’t Want to Miss

This includes the rocky ridge commonly known as the “Manway” or the “backside of the Chimneys.” Despite this closure, visitors can still admire awe-inspiring 360-degree views of Mt. LeConte and Mt. Kephart to the east and Sugarland Mountain to the west.

Thanks to the hard work of the Trails Forever Program and volunteers, this trail was recently renovated. Hikers can appreciate the necessary reconstruction of this stunning mountain path which is one of the few fixtures of the Smokies to contain a bare rock summit.

Chimney Tops Surrounded by Forest in the Great Smoky Mountains - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USADirections

Beep Beep! Whether you are coming from Pigeon Forge or all the way from Chicago, you’ll need to know just how to get to the Chimney Tops Trailhead. To kick off your hike stress-free simply drive 6.7 miles south from the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road or 22 miles north from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

Visitors can easily find parking in the large area on the west side of the road between the lower tunnel and ‘the loop.’

Tips For The Chimney Tops Trail

Curious about when is the best time to hit the Chimney Top trail? Due to this hike’s outstanding popularity, we recommend visiting March through November to encounter less human company. Additionally, weekend visits will always lead to considerably more crowded trail experiences.

Related Post: Best Hikes in Great Smoky Mountains: 9 You Don’t Want to Miss

We suggest downloading a trail map prior to your visit. This allows you to properly plan your path.

For further peace of mind, we recommend coming prepared with the following must-bring trail items:

  • Phone and/or camera
  • Hiking boots
  • Weather-appropriate hiking apparel
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • Bug spray and SPF
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Extra pair of socks

A backpack, two set of hiking boots, and a water bottle.Where to Eat Post Hike

Feeling famished after scrambling up the top of Chimney? Refuel your body against the backdrop of gurgling creeks and curious critters, when you make a pit stop for a lovely Smoky Mountain picnic.

Break bread at the Chimneys picnic area, or check out the park’s full list of spots here. For nearby noshes outside of the park confines, hightail it to any of the following nearby eateries:

Other Smoky Mountain Hikes to Consider

Is Chimney part of your greater Smoky Mountain adventure? Give those calves a good massage and slap on some Icy Hot, as there are plenty of other Smoky Mountain hikes to tackle.

Related Post: Waterfall Hikes Smoky Mountains – 12 Stunning Trails to Explore

Ratchet up those miles and score some astounding mountain and waterfall vistas when you take on any of the park’s other most popular hikes:

  • Clingmans Dome Trail
  • Laurel Falls Trail
  • Ramsey Cascades
  • Newfound Gap Trail
ground view of mingo falls in the great smoky mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
Mingo Falls

Gatlinburg Hotels

Before you lace up those hiking boots and make your way to the Chimney Tops Trailhead, it would be wise to square away your lodgings. After hours of steep stair climbs it’s ideal to relax and recharge in the comfort of one of our Gatlinburg Hotels.

Rest those weary legs and feel those muscles loosen with a soak in a steamy hot tub. Or fuel up for a morning hike with a full complimentary breakfast. From charming mountain lodges to luxurious amenity-filled resorts, we offer accommodations for every type of traveler. As always, make your reservations stress-free knowing you are guaranteed our lowest rates online.

Psst…looking for even more entertainment post-Chimney Top hike? Check out our complete array of Gatlinburg Things to Do and enjoy everything from LumberJack log rolling to dinner with Dolly!

Verdant forests, charming wooden bridges, and lush outcroppings of shrubs that threaten to overtake slate-gray stone stairs.

Every inch of your Chimney Top trail journey is buzzing with life. From curious chipmunks to a ragged bare summit at the top. It’s impossible to not be swept away in the beauty of this iconic Smoky Mountain Trail.

Well worth the sweat (and possible tears). This 3.5-mile trek stuns with a smattering of photo ops and a jaw-dropping summit.

Said to resemble the antlers of a young deer, Chimney Tops derived its name from the Cherokee word for “forked antler.”

Can’t Wait to See This Deer-Shaped Wonder For Yourself?

Don’t wait! Start planning your Chimney Top Trail trek today!

Avatar photo

Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

Have something to add? Post it here:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you a Tripster?

Create an account to get access to exclusive pricing and rewards.

Tagged in this post

Gatlinburg Outdoors