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! Users recommend to take this slowly, as the second mile is steeper than the first with almost 1000 feet of elevation gain in the last mile alone.
Chimney Tops Trail
The trail owes much of its popularity to its relatively short length, and its outstanding panoramic views from the summit area. Its length, less than 2 miles, however, makes for a very steep hike - so much so that many hikers don't even reach the top. The first half of the trail is relatively tame. However, to reach the summit area hikers have to climb more than 960 feet over the course of the last mile!
The first section of trail more or less follows the cascading waters of Road Prong Creek, and crosses several footbridges along the 0.9-mile route to Beech Flats. If you're hiking during the spring or early summer, look for rhododendron, mountain laurel and many other wildflowers blooming along the trailside during this time period. The trail junction at Beech Flats marks the approximate half-way point for this hike. From here the Road Prong Trail branches off to the left towards the Appalachian Trail at Indian Gap, roughly 2.4 miles away. The Road Prong Trail, which continues to follow the stream of the same name, is one of the oldest trails in the Smokies. In the 18th and 19th centuries this ancient path was commonly known as the Indian Gap Trail.
To reach the Chimney Tops you'll have to stay on the main path, which veers towards the right.
From the junction the trail takes a westerly course and climbs roughly 730 feet over the next two-thirds of a mile, before swinging northward to climb the ridge leading towards the summit. As this ridge narrows hikers will begin to enjoy some decent views of the mountains towards the east.
Trail Features: Panoramic views, Cascading stream chimney-tops-thumbnail
Trail Location: Newfound Gap Road
Roundtrip Length: 3.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1487 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 901 Feet
Highest Elevation: 4753 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 6.27 (moderate)