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Chestnut Top Trail to Whiteoak Sink

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Chestnut Top Trail to Whiteoak Sink is a 10.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Townsend, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 10.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1,978 feet Route Type: Out & Back



nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers



no dogs

Annual wild flower pilgrimage with views of Thunderhead and a hidden waterfall. This is a great trail year round but it's most popular in the early spring for wild flowers. The Chestnut Top Trail is marked and ascends to Schoolhouse Gap Trail.

1 month ago

Moderate trail. Lots of uphill, but it's a moderate ascent. There were some good lookout spots, but a lot of trees in May block some of the views. Overall, it's a nice hike!

2 months ago

Nice moderate trail. The beginning of the trail is uphill and that area is where most of the wildflowers can be seen in the spring. It is not the best trail for wildflowers that I’ve seen in the park. But, it has good views and lovely mountain terrain.

Who rates these trails? This trail was HARD especially the first 3 miles. It’s straight up hill.

over grown
10 months ago

Tue Apr 23 2019

Some wildflowers, nice views along the ridge at top. Lots of climbing initially but nothing too bad.

Tue Apr 23 2019

this trail was more than moderate to me. It was beautiful, lots of flowers to see but most are the first mile of the trail until to reach the white oak sinks. Dont think I'd ever have an interest to do it again besides for in the spring.

Hiked Chestnut trail to Schoolhouse Gap Trail. Was hoping to see lots of wildflowers in April, saw some but not as much as expected based on some of the info I found online. The views were beautiful, hike on top of the ridge most of the time until got onto Schoolhouse Gap Trail, which was along a creek. It was 15 of us with kids ranging from 3 to 11, did about 7 miles and everybody did well, kid friendly trail.

Sat Apr 06 2019

Many different wildflowers. Most were in the first half mile. We started at sun up and had the trail to ourselves. There are many good views of Thunderhead Mountain and down into Tuckalechee Valley. Amazing hike.

Thu Nov 22 2018

Nothing too impressive about this trail. Very underwhelming in late fall. Would probably be more attractive in Spring when things are in bloom. Literally just did this to mark it off my list to achieve my GSMNP 900.

Sat Nov 03 2018

climing it with my wife on October 29th. not too many climbers, beautiful views, and we met a deer too. we went to Schoolhouse Gap and back.

Sat Oct 13 2018

My first hike since moving here to Tenn. , saw one bear, a doe w/ fawn , and great views. It was plenty long for my first hike!

Tue Apr 24 2018

We did Chestnut Top to Schoolhouse Gap and it was absolutely beautiful. Wildflowers everywhere and beautiful mountain views in the Spring as you hike the ridge. We saw a deer and fresh beer poop (but no bears). We are moderate hikers and the way up was a tough hike and 8.6 miles roundtrip. Beautiful hike for not having a waterfall. Beautiful mountain views of Townsend and the Smokies.

Tue Apr 17 2018

My review is from the perspective of an amateur photographer. I only did the first half mile of this trail because I was looking for wildflowers in mid-April in the Smoky Mountains National Park. In that first half mile I encountered at least a dozen species of flowers and have posted them. In my opinion this is one of the top 10 wildflower hikes in the NP in terms of variety and ease of hiking. Start with this hike. If it’s too hard then you probably don’t want to do the other wildflower hikes. But if you do it, you won’t be disappointed in the variety of flowers you find

Tue Apr 03 2018

Very disappointing! Barricade prevented even getting close to the sink/waterfall. If you struggle you can almost hear the water falling down past the barricade. Hiked back to the fork and went to the cave. Guess what ? Another barricade. You can see the bars over the cave, the big metal boxes and the solar panels. You can't even get close enough to see that a cave exists. Hiked back towards the meadow and guess what ? A sign saying to not enter the trail with downed trees deliberately placed to block the trail. You can see the wildflowers blooming about 100 yards away. About the ONLY thing you can see on this hike is the dozens of cheesy Stay on the path signs. It was a shame that this wonderful park location has been smothered.

Mon Dec 11 2017

A great winter hiking option if Cades Cove loop is closed due to ice/snow; the trailhead is right inside the Townsend entrance and accessible even if most other park roads are closed. The lack of foliage in the winter means you get peeks of pretty mountain views through the branches most of the way, and a more moderate climb makes this hike easily doable in snow. If it is icy I might consider bringing microspikes, but with just an inch of snow I was able to do this with just trekking poles and no additional traction. While this hike isn't anything extremely spectacular compared to many other hikes in the Smokys, I'm glad I was able to enjoy the snowy forest even with the road closures and would definitely recommend as a snow-route.

Tue Apr 04 2017

Beautiful time of year with wild flowers beginning to bud and flower. Whiteoak sink area will be in full bloom in a week or two. The trail is a nice wide soft path with occasional views of the mountains this time if year as the trees have not leafed out yet. Also the water fall was not open. Best flowers were on the trail across from the Townsend Wye.

Mon Sep 12 2016

This trail lacks on the beautiful views .. You literally are just walking through the forest the whole time.. Bat cave was blocked off this would of maybe made this hike worth it.. Let's just say I wouldn't do this hike again

Wed Apr 13 2016


Sat Apr 02 2016

Pretty trail, wild flowers were just beginning to bloom. Bat Cave and waterfall were blocked off by park

Tue Mar 15 2016

Nice easy hike. Went too early for wildflower a but was just doing a warm up hike to loosen up for my 20 mile hikes.

Wed Jan 27 2016

Great trail with beautiful views on the ridge at the top. Hiked in mid-August.

Sun Jan 10 2016

Did this one on Memorial Day weekend to avoid the crowds at the more popular trails. The Mountain Laurel was in bloom and the hike was very pretty. Only ran into one bear. The hike offers up some good views , but most people stop after about a mile and a half once they get past the large mountain laurel population. The climb at the beginning wasn't bad and once you're up on top of the ridge, it is a nice wide dirt path with your normal up and downs and very easy.

Tue Jun 10 2014

We only did Chestnut as we had been to White Oak Sinks the day before. We started at Townsend and hiked the 4.3 miles to School House Gap trail. It was mostly uphill for the first few miles. We saw a few turkeys and a large Rat Snake. There were a lot of blueberries not far from the start of the trail and we saw more in several other spots. We rested a bit at School House Gap trail and then started back. The hike was much quicker heading back with much of it being downhill. After the hike we cooled off in the stream. It was a nice ending to a great day. Eric and Karen

Thu Apr 10 2014

My hike to White Oak Sinks was from School House Gap trail off of Laurel Creek road and then back to the same parking area for a distance of 4 miles total . Good hike for the wild flowers as well as to see a truly beautiful area deep inside the mountains. The waterfall was beautiful today since it has been raining but most of the flowers were not out, will be back.

Wed May 22 2013

Not to bad of a hike first mile is a little steep it continues up hill for most of trail at easy grade. Lots of wild flowers some partial views. The sinks part is a little over grown and washed on the school house road side. I did whole trail with breaks and small lunch in under 6 hours.

Mon Mar 11 2013

Easy hike, in which you would not likely encounter anyone after departing School House Gap trail. The waterfall is sparse in the summer but more volumes in the Spring, the falls disappear under a crop of rocks going under ground and actually turning into another waterfall underground you can see in Tuckaleechee Caverns.

29 days ago

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