Distance: 2 miles one way
Elevation gain: 1487 feet
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Date: April 30, 2014
On the top of the Chimney Tops
The Chimney Tops is one of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Road Prong Trail begins along Newfound Gap Road (the main park road southeast of Gatlinburg) and immediately crosses the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River via a footbridge. Over the course of the next 0.9 mile the trail steadily gains several hundred feet of elevation and crosses the Road Prong (name of a stream) a few times before reaching its intersection with the Chimney Tops Trail.
Spring in the surrounding forest
The Chimney Tops Trail turns uphill from the main valley and follows a small stream for about a half mile as you steeply climb above an elevation of 4000 feet. Just below the top of the trail, you reach the Chimney Tops feature, which is an exposed rock ridge that requires some class 3 scrambling to reach the 4753-foot summit. If it's wet, then the rock can be slippery, but once at the top you have 360-degree views of the surrounding area.
View from the summit
There was a nice transition between the trailhead where trees had most of the their leaves and upper elevations along the trail where the trees had no leaves and the vegetation on the forest floor had just begun to grow. Along my hike I stopped a few times to check out some of the salamanders that can be found in the park.
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