Chimney Tops, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

4.9
#3 of 21 in Trails in Tennessee
Chimney Tops is a mountain in the central Great Smoky Mountains, located in the Southeastern United States. It has an elevation of 4724ft above sea level. It is one of the park's most recognizable geological structures and a popular hiking destination.Chimney Tops is a double-capstone knob on the eastern slope of the Sugarland Mountain massif. This massif stretches north-to-south across the north-central section of the Smokies. Mount Le Conte dominates the area immediately east of Chimney Tops, and Mt. Mingus rises to the north. Thus, while the view from the summit is 360 degrees, Chimney Tops is practically "walled in" on three sides.GeologyChimney Tops is one of the few instances of a bare rock summit in the Smokies. Over the centuries, the bedrock atop the mountain has been exposed through natural weathering of the upper layers of soil strata. This rock is mostly Anakeesta Formation metamorphic rock, especially slate, phyllite, and metasiltsone. The grainy, contorted capstones offer excellent footholds and handholds for climbing.Like most of the Appalachian Mountains, Chimney Tops was formed 200 million years ago when the North American and African plates collided during the Appalachian orogeny.HistoryThe Cherokee name for Chimney Tops is Duniskwalgunyi, or "forked antler", referring to its resemblance to the antlers of a deer. In the Cherokee legend "Aganunitsi and the Uktena", the captured medicine man, Aganunitsi, in exchange for his freedom, searches remote parts of the Smokies in hopes of finding the giant reptile, the Uktena, and seizing a powerful amulet from its forehead. In his quest, Aganunitsi searches distant gaps and peaks in the Smokies before he "went on to Duniskwalgunyi, the Gap of the Forked Antler, and to the enchanted lake of Atagahi, and at each found monstrous reptiles, but he said they were nothing."
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Chimney Tops Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
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TripAdvisor
  • The Chimneys may be the most iconic trail in the Smokies, and although the last few hundred yards are now closed as a result of the 2016 fire, don't miss the opportunity to hike this trail. You get it...  more »
  • Absolutely loved this beautiful hike. It is a strenuous hike but so worth the beautiful views. We were disappointed that part of it is closed due to the fire, but grateful that the trail is even open....  more »
  • Extremely strenuous trail. It is a lot of work. You are basically going up steps the whole way. Second part of the trail is rough so be prepared. I can now mark this trail off my list.  more »
Google
  • This place is gorgeous. The hike is definitely difficult (about 2 miles with over 1,400 feet of elevation gain,) but it’s completely worth it. It shouldn’t take more than a couple hours to get up, and only one to get down. The new viewing spot is incredible - you can’t go to the very top because of fire damage, and it’s unsafe, but you can clearly see the top and more from the new viewing point. PS, there are tons of little waterfalls!!
  • The view was amazing regardless of the fog. I hear doesn’t usually fog and when it doesn’t it is gorgeous. It was nice to bad the last part is closed from the fires
  • Beautiful view. Nice strenuous hike to get the lungs going and you can climb around on the rocks at the top.

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Where to stay in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, choose between developed campgrounds where you can pitch your tent by your car and access restrooms and showers, or more primitive vehicle-accessed campgrounds. The park also offers accommodations in a permanent structure at LeConte Lodge, which is accessible via five different hiking trails. (There is no car access; you must hike in to use this lodge.) For a wider array of lodging options, stay in Gatlinburg. Serving primarily as a resort gateway to the park, the town offers various styles of accommodation, from national chain hotels to mountain lodges to small inns. Most places lie within 8 km (5 mi) of the park's entrance.
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