Chimney Tops Trail

HARD 563 reviews

Chimney Tops Trail is a 3.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

DISTANCE
3.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1289 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

no dogs

This trail sets off from the rear of the Visitor Center. Due to the spectacular views and short length, this is one of the more popular hikes on Newfound Gap Road, but that doesn't mean it isn't steep! Pace yourself, as the second mile is steeper than the first with almost 1000 feet of elevation gain in the last mile alone. After a 2016 fire, this trail re-opened in September of 2017 thanks to the hard work of local firefighters and trail crews. The hiking trail now goes to a new observation point with a rebuilt platform that makes for a great picnic area.

1 day ago

super steep, lots of stairs, but well worth it at the top. Beautiful streams along the way near bottom.

1 day ago

Beautiful hike. Clouds were rolling in at the top, only saw the chimney mountain for a minute, the trail to it was closed. We did it with our 5 yr old son & daughter in tow. Would hike again.

hiking
9 days ago

Great trail. Challenging towards the top 1/4 mike. Good idea to get there early and soak the view in, with as few people as possible. The last section of the trail is completely blocked off due to the fire but you get an awesome view with the new observation deck. As of 5/2018 the chimney tops are gaining some color back and that’s a refreshing sight. Definitely will be doing this trail again next time in the GSM.

hiking
15 days ago

Had the top of trail to myself yesterday morning, by noon the lot was full and cars were lined up down the road. I suggest getting up early. Fun/slightly challenging hike. This one is short but the end of the trail gets decently steep. You will feel the burn. Several small falls along the way. The view from the new lookout area is gorgeous, but is depressing to see the fire damage and not be able to continue the last part of the original trail. You can fish this section of the Prong too so bring a pole

hiking
22 days ago

Fun hike, somewhat strenuous with steady elevation gain. Great views all the way to the top. The last section of the trail is closed due to fire damage. It now ends just before the final ridge, at a nice viewpoint of the surroundings.

27 days ago

Loved this hike but I didn’t make it through the very last stretch to the top due to back issues. This was during 1998 I heard it’s shortened now due the the fires which makes me sad. Next time I will make it and soak it all in. Such an amazing hike!!!

28 days ago

As always, a “must hike” for the Smokies! Bummed the trail is shortened because of the fires though. Shorter hike and not too strenuous.

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked this back in 2015, before the wildfires. It was a pain in the butt but well worth the experience. Looking forward to hiking it again.

hiking
1 month ago

It was a difficult trail! But it was incredibly beautiful. Some of the changes in elevation we very steep. Coming down was much easier than the trek to the top. One you reach the top the view is breathtaking. It is also frightening. You can get claustrophobic pretty quickly. This one takes some endurance and patience.

1 month ago

one of the best trails in tennessee. it has tough terrain and beautiful views

hiking
1 month ago

Trail was in good shape with bridges over mountain rivers at the beginning with stone and wood stairways. First mile is easy and second half is moderate for anyone in decent shape. Difficulty is simply due to steepness. The trail is smooth all the way up. Couldn’t see anything at the top due to clouds the day we went.

1 month ago

Best hike with an awesome view!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Tough uphill walk so its a great work out (i'm a seasoned hiker with average fitness), unfortunately the view at the end has been hampered by the fire.
There's a nice viewing platform that has been built that gives you a nice view, but when you look at the burned out Chimney mountain and surroundings, you can imaging how spectacular this hike once was.
Really pretty waterfalls along the way, and I would imagine during the late spring when there's more folage and flowers are blooming the hike up is spectacular.

hiking
1 month ago

Made the hike on Good Friday, March 30. The weather wasn’t the best when we started the hike with rain and temperatures in the low 50’s. We found room to park directly adjacent to the trailhead. We had a small group of four and we began our ascent at 10am. As advertised, the first mile was pretty easy. The fast moving creek and the two pedestrian bridges made for great pictures.

The second mile is the real deal. Heaven’s Staircase was a great workout for my quads and hamstrings not to mention my breathing. It also a great setting for a trail picture in the morning with the fog laying heavy on the trail and the steps disappearing into the fog. The rain probably kept trail traffic light as we met maybe 20 hikers coming down as we were going up and we passed another 10 on the ascent.

When reaching the “top”, we were disappointed by thickness of the fog as we could not see more than a couple hundred feet. There was no valley view due to the fog. As many already know, the trail has been shortened by 1/4 mile due to the instability of the mountain turf at the summit. Our walk down was easier but the descent does work on the calves and the knees. We met probably 40 people coming up as we made out descent.

We met a diverse group of people on the trail, young, old, toddlers, teens, families, parents and grandparents. We met ones, twos, threes and fours of varying people from a across the US. We met people from Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Chicago.

The entire hike took us two hours and 20 minutes. When we returned to the parking area, we observed at least a dozen vehicles parked on the shoulder of the narrow but accommodating Newfound Gap Road. I will do this hike again. Get there early for the full visual effect of Heaven’s Staircase and linger at the top for the fog to burn off to give you an incredible view of the valley.

hiking
1 month ago

Strenuous hike - 4 miles round trip
New Observation point has a great view of Mount LeConte.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a nice hike! I definitely recommend it for people who can handle physical activity.

It took us about 1.5 hours to go up and I forgot to time the way down (but it was much faster and easier! Ha!) The first hour was moderate, really pretty views. After the first hour it was pretty difficult for me and I had to stop to catch my breath a few times. It’s a lot of steps and at an incline which made it tiring. (I’m also not at peak physical fitness level.)

Once we reached the highest we were able to go (the ending section was closed) we got to a platform and all we could see was fog! We will have to try this another time when it’s not raining.

The trail is busy, you will be with other hikers.

hiking
1 month ago

The trail is not as hard as some people say. Now, the last half a mile is hard because of the incline. It took me and my teens 2h to go up and down this morning. Even though it was rainy and foggy. Unfortunately we could not see anything from the top since the rain and fog moved in. We will try it again in a clear sky day.

1 month ago

excellent hike. it's busy but not as difficult as people say. I'm an experienced hiker and I've hiked much worse.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail was really fun to hike and had recovered from the fire damage in most places. My only complaint was the amount of people on the trail ruined the peacefulness of nature. Overall a great trail would definitely recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

We had a terrific hike! It had snowed hard the day before so we were able to have a fun snowball fight. We hiked up into a section that was very snowy and I made my first snowman ever!!

My favorite part was the running waters and icicles on the boulders in the water. The snow laid on top of each of the rocks in the stream which was breathtaking. Plenty of time in between other hikers to linger on the bridges and have a few quiet minutes with nature.

My son and husband climbed the last mile on their own and I headed back. They said it was very steep and slippery.

hiking
2 months ago

The day we hiked, 1/3 of this trail was covered of ice, which made it super slippery and dangerous to climb up and down. There were so many people falling. 1/3 of it was super muddy. Bring spikes and hiking boots will help you finish this trail with no pain and effort. It wasn’t that bad in term of elevation but to be honest, the end view was such a joke to me. On the way back, I was able to relax after being so stressed out because of the ice then noticed some beautiful streams along the trail. If you want to challenge your body, go and do this trail. If you want something truly worth your effort, I would recommend doing other trails out there.

hiking
2 months ago

Very hard hike. Great views once you finally make it. It was snowy and icy for a portion of it which was very slick. There was also a lot of mud. If you can make it all the way up, the views are amazing. The way down seems like nothing.

hiking
2 months ago

The top was still closed from the fire. It was pretty steep and difficult to climb down with the snow and ice

hiking
2 months ago

3.15.18: I enjoyed a sunrise hike! I started about an hour before sunrise in the ambient light and was at the viewing platform in time for the colors on the horizon just before the sun came up. It was icy the second half of the trail which was more treacherous coming down than going up.... I was ok in my solomans but would have preferred traction devices. I am a fast hiker and hiked alone, but even in the icy conditions and stopping for a few photos was done in under two hours, so it’s not a super long hike. If you have bad knees maybe avoid, there are lots of stairs as others have said. I didn’t think the stairs were too much, a few stairs then trail, then stairs...not an endless staircase up. The viewing platform at least at sunrise was spectacular, shades of purple and orange. Nice hike even with the end closure!

hiking
2 months ago

The bridges and river crossing were beautiful. The trail was very muddy and steep the last mile. The view from the overlook was nice but far from the best in the park. Admittedly, clouds and haze may have been obscuring the full effect.

2 months ago

Awesome trail! Still a great view even without being able to go the last .25 miles since it's closed.

hiking
2 months ago

Really fun scenic hike with great views! Steep but well maintained trail. Well worth the effort. Would love to hike again once the top part reopens!

hiking
3 months ago

Very steep the entire way. Wonderful workout and hike. Super muddy with slight fog and drizzle when I went made it slightly more difficult. Major bummer the last section is still closed due to fire damage.

hiking
3 months ago

Lots and lots of steps!! But wow is it worth it! We went on a rainy day with the correct gear and it completely paid off. The views of the river and falls up the mountain was heaven. Can’t wait to do it again we the final portion reopens!

3 months ago

wonderful trail. easy to access. just beautiful . I hiked this before the terrible fire. you cannot access the last .25mi right now due to environmental damage but still worth the hike .

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