Frozen Head State Park is situated in the beautiful Cumberland Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. The mountainous terrain varies from an elevation of 1,340 feet to over 3,000 feet on 16 different mountain peaks, with 13,122 acres of relatively undisturbed forest containing some of the richest wildflower areas in the state (better viewed during summer months).
A short 45-minute drive from Knoxville, Tennessee, I recently visited the park to hike the Chimney Top Trail, a steep, rugged trail with giant sandstone caprock and natural vista. It’s a 3.5 mile trek to the top with a total gain in elevation of 3,460 feet, as hikers ascend two separate mountains along the trail. Total time: 6 hours.
Here’s part of the Frozen Head State Park map featuring the Chimney Top Trail:
There were several points of interest along the hike, including the following:
The challenges to this hike were several. First, the distance: 3.5 miles each way. Second, the mind – that is, after hiking up a mountain for 50 minutes, it’s somewhat discouraging to then be faced with having to hike down the backside, losing gains in elevation, only to then be greeted by an even taller mountain. Lastly, the finish: towards the top, hikers encounter the trail’s only flat surface along a ridge; however, this is short-lived, as the final stretch is by far the most difficult.
During this final stretch, glimpses on the rocky top can be seen through the forest:
Hikers must climb the sandstone caprock using one of several pathways, in order to enjoy the wonderful view from the peak of Chimney Top Mountain – seen here:
This is a topographic computer simulation of Bird Mountain, as seen from the top of Chimney Top Mountain, provided in the park map:
Finally, I shot this panoramic video with my iPhone as I walked across the caprock:
Make sure you carry a walking stick, and…
Enjoy the Cumberland Mountains!