Hiking Chimney Tops Trail in the Smoky Mountains

Living in Atlanta, the Smoky Mountains are just a short drive north.  I have hiked many trails North Georgia as well as South and North Carolina.  I have not made it to Chimney Tops Trail yet, but it sounds like a wonderful day hike.  The top elevation is 4,800 feet. Alan LeStourgeon has created a great primer:
Chimney Tops Hiking Trail in the Smoky Mountains

Chimney Tops Hiking Trail in the Smoky Mountains

By Alan LeStourgeon

The Smoky Mountains are home a multitude of different hiking trails that cover hundreds of miles over the span of the mountain range and Smoky Mountain National Park. There is one trail that only covers two small miles of the mountains, but is one of the most intense climbs that a person will experience in the Smokies.

The Chimney Tops hiking trail in the Smokies requires a lot of stamina and caution for climbers who dare to traverse it. The views on this trail are unmatched, but it is not for those who are not familiar with hiking on a higher skill level. With many people feeling that the hike is well worth the invested effort and moderate amount of risk, it has become one of the most popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

You will first need a park and trail map to find the Chimney Tops hiking trail in the Smokies, as well as a sense of direction about how to get into the park properly. From Gatlinburg, you take the Newfound Gap Road into the park. This road is popular, as it is the only road that travels through the entire Smoky Mountain National Park and links Gatlinburg with Cherokee, North Carolina. About 6 miles down the road, or 22 miles from the Cherokee direction, you’ll find a parking lot, which is at the trailhead of the Chimney Tops. Once you arrive, you can assess the situation for yourself, as it is generally a crowded trail to climb. If you see a lot of cars or buses in the parking lot, you should expect the trail to be crowded. Thus, if you want to have a more personal experience, you’re better off to visit in the off season or at a different time of day.

The Chimney Top hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains is very steep, rising 1,300 feet in total altitude in its two short miles. The highest point of the trail is almost 5,000 feet above sea level. The trail begins with a few bridges and some simple land to traverse through, leading to Beech Flats Cove. This is estimated to be the halfway point of the trail, and leads hikers to two different trails. If you are seeking the Chimney Tops, you should stay on the main trail which takes you into a creek valley. It is here that many injuries can occur, because there are old tree roots everywhere that are known for tripping the unsuspecting hiker on their journey.

After you get past this, there will be a few more troublesome areas, but the trail is no longer graded like it was in the beginning. You will be approaching the chimney tops, and should be able to see them within a few minutes of passing through the old forest growth. Once you get towards the end of the trail, it will become much narrower and much steeper, which can create a challenging upward hike for those who aren’t prepared. In spite of the mild danger, this is a popular climb for many hikers, and can be done as a day-trip or a backpacking adventure, as long as you come prepared.

Alan LeStourgeon owns the popular Gatlinburg Vacations blog where you can get information about the vacation destination of Gatlinburg Tennessee and enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains.

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The Chimney Tops Trail definitely sounds like a wonderful trail that I will have to try soon.  I hope that you can get out there and hike it as well.

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