Chimneys

Chimney Tops is one of the popular trails in Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  It is a bit over 2 miles each way, but divided into three distinct sections.

You start off by heading over creeks and climbing up slowly to the valleys.  It is not a hard climb, with a well-marked trail and plenty of places to photograph the creeks that you ford (at least 3, and each has a bridge over it).  You wind upwards till you meet the trail junction at 0.9 miles.

At the junction, you have a choice.  You can veer left, reaching the AT in 2.4 miles, and then continue on from there.  To get to Chimney Peaks, stay right at the junction, and the climb gets harder and steeper.  You climb a good incline there, rocky and tough.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll be fine. There are lots of spots to take a breather, so don’t feel the need to run up the mountain (though there were two guys doing just that when we went).  You’ll also notice how the vegetation changes as you go up; moving past the ferns and wet vegetation in the valleys to the drier mixed forest of the higher elevations.  And rhododendron all along the path, of course.

As you approach the peak, the trail peters out, and you’re left facing a rocky climb to gain the top.  It is only about a hundred meters or so long, but you will need to go slow, and use hands and feet to make the top, scrambling/climbing as you go.  It is not insurmountable, but good shoes (no flip flops or old tennis shoes) are a must, to help keep traction on the shale.  But should you make the ascent, the view is spectacular.  Not the highest point in the park, but with commanding views all around.  You descend the way you came up.

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Chimney Tops

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Chimney Tops 35.623815, -83.504333

 

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