The Chimney Tops Trail, one of the most popular hikes in the Smokies, is closed due to a washed out bridge. The National Park Service hopes to have the bridge repaired and the trail open by June 30.
Even though this popular trail is closed, you’ll find close to 850 miles of Smoky Mountain trails open and accessible! Some of PigeonForge.com’s favorite hikes include:
ABRAMS FALLS TRAIL: This trail is rated easy and is 5 miles roundtrip with an elevation change of 200 feet. The trailhead is located off of the 11-mile loop in Cades Cove. One of the most popular trails in the park, the hike follows Abrams Creek and passes by Abrams Falls.
AUREL FALLS TRAIL: This trail is 2.6 miles round trip (to the falls) and is the easiest falls hike on the Tennessee side of the park. The trailhead access is located off of Little River Road at the Fighting Creek Gap parking area, less than 4 miles past Sugarlands Visitor Center. After passing Laurel Falls on this trail, an ascent through virgin forest to the fire tower on Cove Mountain can lengthen this hike.
MEIGS MOUNTAIN TRAIL: This trail is 6.4 miles one way and is rated easy with an elevation gain of only 500 feet. The trailhead is located off of Jake's Creek Road inside Elkmont. This relatively easy trail joins the Elkmont area with trails leading to The Sinks on Little River Road and Tremont.
PORTERS CREEK TRAIL: This trail is 3.7 miles one way and is rated easy. Head east from Gatlinburg on US-321, turn south at 5.9 miles into Greenbrier. The road follows along the west side of the Little Pigeon River and becomes gravel in one mile. Continuing straight, you'll pass a picnic area on the left and then reach the end of the road and the beginning of Porters Creek Trail. This is an outstanding trail for wildflowers! In March and April you'll find bloodroot, trillium, May apple, trout lily, chickweed, phlox, spring beauty, and toothwort. Elevation for this trail is 1,550 feet.
For more information about trails and hikes, check out Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park
As one of the most popular trails in the Smoky Mountains, Chimney Tops had quite a bit of wear and tear. The amount of heavy use, rainfall, and the fact that it is steep terrain caused the trail to be hazardous to hikers. There were badly eroded sections, with exposed and broken rocks, tree roots, and lots of mud.
Over the course of 6 months (April 2012 to October 2012), the trail was worked on Monday through Thursday to fix these problems. The “Trails Forever” crew worked hard to rebuild with rock and timber. They did this in order to create an “aesthetically pleasing, easily walkable, sustainable staircase with integrated drainage.” The trail now has rock steps to get people to the steepest areas, logs laid parallel with packed dirt to help the wetlands areas, and logs/stones partially buried to divert rainfall. Overall, it will make the path much easier and safer for the vast amount of hikers.
As you are planning to start hiking again for the year, or looking for a trail to try, Chimney Tops is a great option with a beautiful view. To get to this trail, head along Newfound Gap Road till you see the sign, about 8 miles south of the Gatlinburg entrance. Alternative trails include Alum Cave Trail, Appalachian Trail north to Charlie’s Bunion, Rainbow Falls Trail or Forney Ridge Trail. Forney Ridge recently received the same kind of facelift.
Photo by NPS