To climb o'er root and rock aloft
Through rhododendron tunnel shafts
Creation's ancient crevice seeps
Along the way to Chimney's peaks.
( R Weisser )
Smoky Mountains National Park is
the most visited National Park in the system. It lies within a day's
drive of half of the population of the United States.
The park is designated as an international biosphere preserve
and contains a wide variety of flora and fauna specimens.
all of the mountain peaks in the park, none
are more easily recognized that the Chimney Tops. The Chimneys owes
their name to chimney like stone outcropping at the top of the mountain.
From these rocks, you get a spectacular 360 degree view of the Tennessee
side of the National Park.
The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular in the
park. The 4 mile
round trip hike takes you on a 1500' climb to the 4730' summit. Although
steep in a few places, and occasionally slippery in spots, the average
family in decent shape can do the hike in about 3 hours.
Even if you're not up for a hike to the top, there
are plenty of excellent vantage points for photographing the famous
peaks. Be sure to use the pull-outs and always watch for traffic as this
is a very congested are in the park.
To get there, take US 441 (
The Newfound Gap Road) south from the Sugarlands Visitor's Center. When
you pass the Chimneys Picnic area on the right, continue south until you
go through the tunnel. As soon as you get through the tunnel, the trail
head is on your right.
The Chimney tops are truly a Smokies' landmark. Be
sure to include a hike to the summit the next time you visit Gatlinburg
Photos, from top: The Chimneys in Autumn, Rock outcropping on the
peak, foliage along the Chimney Tops Trail, looking from the tall
Chimney to the lower one, the Chimneys in the morning!