The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most magnificent trails in the Smoky Mountains. Located just a little more than 5 miles outside of the Sugarland visitor Center, this 3.25-mile round trip hike provides visitors with stunning views of Mount LeConte.
As you make your way to the trail head, you will find a small parking lot as well as plenty of parking on the side of the road. Note: if you do need to park on the side of the road, you will need to make sure that all four tires are off the road, as this is a rule throughout the park.
Insider Tip: There are no restrooms at the trail head, so please plan accordingly.
Hiking Chimney Tops Trail in the Smoky Mountains
Because of the devastating fire in November 2016, the trail is a little shorter than in years past. That's because the fire caused serious damage to the top of the trail, creating parts of the trail to be unstable. Because of this, the park has created a new lookout, still providing visitors with fantastic views of Mount LeConte.
When you first enter the trail, you will notice the ground growth and how different this makes the hiking experience from other trail hikes. You will experience beautiful steams before you begin your ascent up the mountain. Take the time to enjoy the many look out points along the way. The trail is nice and wide at the beginning of your hike and eventually becomes narrower further into the trail.
The final stretch of the hike becomes a lot more challenging. You will reach a point along the trail that has over 450 steps that help you navigate the steep climb to the top. Yes, we counted them all.
After climbing all the stairs you'll have less than ¼ of mile hike to the lookout point. Once you have reached the top, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the park. Depending on the time you visit, you can see the blue mist hovering around the peeks of the mountain. This is why they are called the Smoky Mountains.
This is a spectacular 4-mile round trip hike. While it can be strenuous at times, the views at the top make the journey worth it. The steepness of the hike should not be overlooked, it can be difficult. You should plan accordingly based on your comfort level for hiking. Take your time and pace yourself, but most importantly, enjoy yourself. The views from the top are quite impressive.
Chimney Tops Trail Quick Guide
Total Distance: 3.25 miles out and back
Elevation Change: 1,485 Feet Gain, with an average of 785 feet gain per mile
Difficulty Rating: 6.75, which is considered a moderate hike
Restrooms Available: No restrooms at the trail head
Parking: Trailhead is located just off Newfound Gap Road (roughly 7 miles from Sugarland Visitor center), you will find a small parking lot as well as plenty of parking on the side of the road. Note: if you do need to park on the side of the road, you will need to make sure that all four tires are off the road, as this is a rule throughout the park.
Interested in finding more fantastic hiking opportunities within the Great Smoky Mountains, check out our picks for the best Smoky Mountains Hiking Trails.