553 forum posts
Last Wednesday, Jay and I decided to drive to GSMNP to do the Chimney Tops hike. We were blessed with a beautiful day! It was 49 degrees and sunny, with hardly any clouds...perfect hiking weather! The trail is 4 miles round trip. I have seen several different listings for the elevation gain, ranging from 1350-1700'. I will say it definitely felt like 1700'. Whew, this one was a toughie, considering it was only 2 miles! The two mile return trip was a piece of cake, but it was straight up on the way to the summit. If you are familiar with the Smokies at all, you know this is pretty typical of any hike in the area.
Some pretty serious climbing is needed to reach the 4800 ft summit. There is no need for technical equipment, but I was sure glad to have grippy Vibram soles on my feet! This was the hardest part of the climb up. It was completely vertical. If I was any shorter, I am not sure that I could have reached the hand holds here.
I would love to see this in the summer when it is green! If you look in the middle of this shot, the second chimney is in the distance. I know you can get over there to it, but we didn't really have enough time to do it.
Overall, if you want a truly epic day hike in the Smokies and only have about three hours or so, this one is the ticket.
We stopped at Newfound Gap to take in these unbelievable vistas as the sun was going down.
To top off a very epic day, we saw our first elk near the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center!