Chimney Tops, GSMNP

12:20 p.m. on November 29, 2012 (EST)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,761 reviewer rep
362 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.


image.jpg
If you look at the yellow line, you can see the elevation gain.


image.jpg
Trailhead shot.


image.jpg
The trail was not only beautiful at the top, but it ran along this beautiful creek almost the whole way!


image.jpg


image.jpg
This was the halfway mark on the trail. Lots of huffing and puffing was done leading up to this point!


image.jpg
This is the first area of the Chimneys.


image.jpg
View from the bottom of the Chimneys.


image.jpg
If you want an epic view and don't want to risk life and limb, take the side trail to this spot. Very minimal climbing is involved to reach this view.


image.jpg
Jay on the side trail.


image.jpg
This is about 1/4 up.


image.jpg
This is about halfway up. Jay decided that he was good at this spot. I had my mind made up that I was going to stand on the top of the pinnacle, so up I went!


image.jpg


image.jpg
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.


image.jpg
I finally made it. WOW! I felt on top of the world! Luckily, there was a very nice man up there to take this shot! No doubt about it, this 360 degree view was DEFINITELY worth the hard work.


image.jpg
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.


image.jpg

image.jpg

image.jpg


image.jpg

image.jpg


image.jpg
Looking down from the summit. This is hands down the most dangerous hike I've ever done.


image.jpg
Here I am, crab-walking back down. I watched a YouTube video before I went, and it said this is the safest way to descend.

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.


image.jpg
Bridge on the way back down.


image.jpg


image.jpg


image.jpg
The Chimneys from the parking lot at the trailhead. The trailhead is on the right side of the road just before Alum Caves trailhead if you are leaving from Gatlinburg.

We stopped at Newfound Gap to take in these unbelievable vistas as the sun was going down.


image.jpg

image.jpg

image.jpg


image.jpg

To top off a very epic day, we saw our first elk near the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center!


image.jpg
I know these are blurry, but since I have already had an experience with a very large wild animal charging me, I decided that I would use my zoom lens and not bother them!


image.jpg

image.jpg

2:48 p.m. on November 29, 2012 (EST)
210 reviewer rep
4,226 forum posts

 

Pretty rugged looking country. I hope to see it someday on one of my bicycle tours east maybe next year.

9:46 a.m. on November 30, 2012 (EST)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Great day hike, Ashleigh! I look forward to hiking that trail sometime. 

Don't you just love how the Elk reintroduction is going so well! I am so looking forward to when they really start expanding out of the smokies. 

11:17 a.m. on November 30, 2012 (EST)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,761 reviewer rep
362 forum posts

@GaryPalmer,

Yes it is! You should definitely check out GSMNP if you can. 

@Gonzan,

Thanks so much! It was so fun. It is definitely one to be added to the bucket list. I do love how well the elk re-introduction is. I can't wait to see them in the wild! I love hearing them at night.

8:23 a.m. on December 1, 2012 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
770 reviewer rep
1,285 forum posts

Ashleigh,

Excellent report! Wow I’m still amazed at some of the shots you get. I may have to start bringing you and Jay along as my photographers! We go a lot of the same places but my pictures never turn out as well!

I love those peak shots….well done

9:15 a.m. on December 1, 2012 (EST)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,761 reviewer rep
362 forum posts

Thanks, Pat. I think your pictures turn out awesome! I always enjoy seeing your reports!

By the way, can you think of any other hikes in the Smokies that are just epic, like LeConte, Charlie's Bunion, and Chimney Tops that I may not know about? I live about 4 hours from the Smokies, so I don't get there as often as I'd like, but when I do, I really like to make the most of it!

Thanks again!

7:01 p.m. on December 1, 2012 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
812 reviewer rep
555 forum posts

Nice hike! Looked like some fun scrambling. I would say you're ready for Longs Peak via the Keyhole. Nice photos of the elk. They were a site to see when I biked the trails in Colorado. Those elk you photographed rival any of the elk I've come across.

7:58 p.m. on December 2, 2012 (EST)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,761 reviewer rep
362 forum posts

Thanks, Rob! I would LOVE to go to hiking in Colorado! It is certainly on my bucket list! Great to know about the elk! Those are the first ones that I have ever seen! They sure are beautiful!

12:29 p.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
76 reviewer rep
11 forum posts

Awesome trip report!  Thanks for sharing.  I LOVE the Smokies and have hiked there many, many times, yet I've never made it all the way to the top of the Chimneys.  Funny, since I've hiked dangerous routes in the Rockies and Yosemite--for some reason this hike intimidates me.  Your photos of the summit validated that even more for me.  Someday :-)

1:24 p.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
67 forum posts

"but since I have already had an experience with a very large wild animal charging me, I decided that I would use my zoom"

That's a good line - "I have already had an experience", kinda like, "I have already had ENOUGH of being chased by large animals".

I'll have to search for the large animal trip report. 

I used to take my daughter to the Chimney Tops when she was little - now she goes there with her friends. Its a magical place. 

2:24 p.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
1,357 reviewer rep
1,339 forum posts

Great shots, and an exhilarating hike, from the look of it.

There's an elk re-introduction plan in GSMNP? That's a tricky one - once they get settled in they get territorial, and there are lots of videos around of tourists being mauled by bull elk. 

One common solution is to reintroduce wolves, too, otherwise there's often nothing big enough to keep an exploding elk population under control.

4:06 p.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
67 forum posts

They tried with the Red Wolf, but it did not succeed. Although I doubt the Red Wolf would be big enough to deal with a large population of Elk. I was lucky enough to see one.

I'm not sure how they deal with Elk control. 

9:46 p.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

The Elk reintroduction is going very well, though it will likely be another 15-20 years before their numbers and range have expanded to the point that control is a large issue. When they do reach that point there will be ample numbers of hunters ready to fill apex predator role. There is already a season for them, but it is VERY restricted, with only a couple highly coveted permits issued by lottery every year. 

I'm just waiting for the Bison reintroduction before I get really excited ;)

9:35 a.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,761 reviewer rep
362 forum posts

Thanks, Outlan, Peter, and hootyhoo!

@Outlan,

It really isn't as scary as it looks. In the Youtube video that I saw, there were a lot of young children climbing the Chimneys. I decided that if they weren't too afraid to do it that I shouldn't be either!

@ hootyhoo,

I'll save you some time. Here is the trip report from Grayson Highlands.

 http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/131431.html  Grayson Highlands State Park, VA

This was one of many lessons I have learned while hiking :)

 

@Gonzan,

I second the excitment for the Bison re-introduction! Do you know when they plan to do this? That will be awesome!

11:38 a.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
76 reviewer rep
11 forum posts

We saw a large herd of Elk when there in August on the Cherokee side.  It actually reminded me of the Rockies, where they were just roaming everywhere.  They are beautiful creatures.


7744022208_c1b6ec28b5_z.jpg

1:02 p.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Ashleigh, 

Haha! I don't know if there actually is a plan to reintroduce them, but it would be pretty crazy cool if they did! I think Bison would be MUCH more problematic, especially if they adopted their eastern ancestor's habit of year mass migrations spanning hundreds of miles! 

3:08 p.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
210 reviewer rep
4,226 forum posts


image.jpg

I really like this image of your's. It would make a excellent enlargement and even a good jigsaw puzzle

4:40 p.m. on January 11, 2013 (EST)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,761 reviewer rep
362 forum posts

@Outlan,

Great picture!

 

@Gonzan,

I am way too gullible! That would be really cool if they do that though!

 

@GaryPalmer,

Thanks! You may like this one as well! I do have a better picture of this at home. This is just from my Iphone.

Middle Saluda River, Jones Gap State Park, SC


Middle-Saluda-River.jpg

October 25, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Citico trip with Tipi Newer: Dolly Sods Wilderness – West Virginia May 2012
All forums: Older: Tip on Silnylon Treatment Newer: Vintage Holubar Tent