Ascent of Chimney Tops on 2011-04-28

Climber: Andy Hatzos

Date:Thursday, April 28, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Chimney Tops
    Elevation:4800 ft / 1463 m

Ascent Trip Report

I started my ascent from the Chimney Tops parking area on Newfound Gap Road (US-441) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (N 35.6353 W 83.4692). The trailhead is well marked. The trail immediately heads south, and descends to the first of four river crossings (all of which are in the first half of the hike). This is also the first of two places where the trail descends about 50 feet.

After the fourth river crossing, the Chimney Tops Trail reaches an intersection with the Road Prong Trail (N 35.6250 W 83.4703). This intersection is marked with a sign. From here, the Chimney Tops Trail turns south-southwest, and begins gaining elevation more quickly. There are a couple of switchbacks as the trail gains the ridge that Chimney Tops is a part of, as the trail eventually turns north. There is another short period of descent just before reaching the end of the trail. After about two miles total, the bottom of the summit area is reached. The trail to this point has many sections that are rocky and steep, with most (but not all) being in the second half of the ascent. However, to this point the trail is no higher than class 2 (and is class 1 for most of the ascent).

Once reaching the summit area, the final ascent must be made by scrambling up a rock face with a general incline of around 50 degrees or so. This climbing involves using hands and feet, and there is quite a bit of exposure on either side. There are two or three spots near the middle of this ascent that are much steeper (near 70 degrees) and easily qualify as class 3.

The summit of the main Chimney Tops peak is fairly rocky, but with a few flat areas and flat rocks to rest on. The highest point is near the north end of the summit. From here, there is a clear view to the lower Chimney Tops peak, which is about 500 feet to the north. The path to this peak appears to be a very difficult and dangerous scramble, and appeared beyond my abilities as a climber. Not one of the 20-30 other people I saw near the summit attempted to cross to the lower peak.

The exposed summit of Chimney Tops offers outstanding and completely unobstructed views (which is not true of many other peaks in the area). One of my favorite views was down to a pullout on Newfound Gap Road just northwest of Chimney Tops. I was later able to drive to this pulloff and get the reverse view, which really emphasized the height of the ascent!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1550 ft / 471 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Chimney Tops Trail
    Trailhead:Chimney Tops Parking Area  3450 ft / 1051 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Andy Hatzos
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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