Hiking the Chimney Tops Trail in the Smoky Mountains

September 06, 2018

Hiking up the Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular trails in the national park. The trail is popular due to its short length, and awesome mountain views at the top. With over 1,400 feet in elevation gain, and more than 360 stones stairs to climb the view at the top you know is bound to be spectacular! Keep reading to learn what else you can expect along this trial!


Round Trip Length 3.3 Miles
Elevation Gain 1487 Feet
Trail Highlights Panoramic Mountain Views, beautiful streams

Trailhead:stone stairs on hiking trail

Drive 6.7 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road. A large parking area will be on the west side of the road and a sign reads “Chimney Tops Trail.” Unless you arrive early, you can expect this parking area to be busy. Many cars will often line the side of the road as parking spaces become full.

Trail Description:

The roundtrip length of this trail is 3.3 miles. Hikers will gain a total of 1487 feet of elevation in under two miles of climbing up the trail! This is easily one of the steepest and shortest trails in the national park.

The beginning of the trail is flat. It passes over the cascading waters of the Road Prong Creek. On hot days this a great place to swim or just dip your toes in the water! Hikers will cross over several foot bridges at the beginning of the trail. The trail junction for Beech Flats marks the halfway point.

It’s here that the trail gets more interesting. Now hikers will begin their ascent to the summit of the Chimneys. In just two-thirds of a mile you will gain roughly 730 feet in elevation. Throughout this elevation gain the trail has many stone stairs to travel up. The stairs make the climb much more manageable instead of climbing up roots and rocks.

Finally, as the ridge narrows, hikers will be treated to beautiful mountain views. The Chimney Tops Trail now ends with a new observation point then it use to. Now, the view point offers spectacular views of Mt. Leconte. This new observation area is flat and a great place to sit and relax after the hard climb up.  

View of the smoky mountainsBeyond the New Observation Point

The new observation point at the Chimneys does not disappoint if your goal was to see incredible mountain views. This is where the hike officially ends. However, this is one-quarter of a mile from the pinnacles of the Chimneys. The rest of the old trail is now blocked off and considered unsafe for hikers due to fallen trees, loose rocks and erosion.

What to Bring

– It is a great idea to wear closed toed shoes on this trail because of its rough and rocky terrain.

– Make sure to bring plenty of water for this strenuous trail as well. Staying hydrated when gaining so much elevation is extremely important.

– Take this hike slowly. This trail can be considered very difficult for some due to its short but steep trek. 

The Chimney Tops Trail is a famous trail in the Smoky Mountains. It’s short, steep, and beautiful! If you would like to find other incredible mountain views make the trek up the Andrews Bald Trail! It’s easier, but still has awesome, panoramic views!