Hiking Chimney Tops
Chimney Tops is a Great Smoky Mountain National Park must-hike trail. It's 3.8 miles round trip and will get that heart rate UP. Starting at the parking area the first mile is pretty easy as you walk beside Road Prong Creek with a few uphills. The river is also a great destination for fly fishers because of it's cold water and deep plunge pools. As you walk along the river you'll cross four bridges before you begin to steeply climb 980 feet in one mile. The steepness of this hike causes a lot of people not to finish it and turn back (according to the Smoky Mountain hiking website). Don't be deterred! Keep climbing and you'll be rewarded with some sweeping views of the Tennessee GSM's and a very unique summit. When you get to the top of the mountain you'll have to climb up a steep rock face to get to the actual summit. This does require some flexibility, balance and arm strength and if you have a fear of heights don't look down. Once at the top you'll have a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and be able to see Route 441 below you.
I definitely thought this hike was hard. The uphill had me breathing heavy and my calves were burning. I'm usually great with hiking uphill but I had to pause multiple times (literally like 10 times) on the way up to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow down. On the way down my quads and knees were feelin' it as well. However I think this hike is SO worth the views. It's also easily accessible and relatively short, although the last mile is a pretty intense elevation gain. If you have any doubts about how steep it is I just say give yourself a LOT of time to hike it. Take a few steps, pause, etc. Just take your time! I highly recommend this hike for anyone planning a visit to the park!
For more information and further directions on this hike go here.