Gatlinburg Hiking Guide: Chimney Tops Trail

March 20, 2014

If you’re looking for a challenging yet rewarding hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park make plans to hike the Chimney Tops Trail. 

Relatively short in length at 4 miles roundtrip, this hike is a very popular one due to its panoramic vistas and unique terrain.  Plus, the trailhead is located less than 7 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center off Newfound Gap Road.

The challenging aspect of Chimney Tops Trail is the steep climb.  The first half of the trail is fairly tame, but to reach the summit you have to climb more than 900 feet over the course of the last mile.  It is a quick elevation gain that tests some hikers, so be prepared. 

Several footbridges can be found throughout the first section of Chimney Tops Trail Tennessee.  Following Road Prong Creek, the first section lasts approximately one mile before you reach Beech Flats.  Many wildflowers bloom in this area, so keep an eye out for them if you are hiking during the summer.  Due to the wide range of elevations experiences, this hike is also recommended for fall foliage viewing.  Beech Flats is the midway point of the first leg of the hike and there is also a trail junction at this area.  Be sure to stay to the right to continue on the Chimney Tops Trail. 

This is where the incline of this hike really kicks in.  From the trail junction to the summit, you will climb roughly 700 feet over 2/3 of a mile.  In total, the trail climbs up to a height of 4,840 feet to a 360 degree view of the park.  The last portion of the trail can be very strenuous, and a bit of a scramble as, in order to get to the top of the summit, there is a rock cropping you must climb over.  Take the proper precautions necessary to stay safe.  There are still some amazing views to enjoy if you are unable to make it to the highest peak.
If you are able to make it to the pinnacle, the stunning 360 degree view is well worth it.  You can see Mt. LeConte and Mt. Kephart to the east and Sugarland Mountain to the west.  On clear days, the Sugarlands Valley is visible towards the north.

Written By Ashley

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