Driving along route US-441 S from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, there are several parking areas which provide scenic views of the pinnacles.
One such location has an information-placard posted, which reads:
The Cherokees called the mountain Duniskwalguni, meaning ‘forked antlers’.
The half-billion-year-old Chimney Tops, made of slates, schists, and phyllites, sit atop even older rock – Thunderhead sandstone, a tough, erosion resistant rock. The chimney rock (Anakeesta Formation) is softer than the sandstone, allowing rain, hail, and ice – over hundreds of millions of years – to fashion its chimney-shaped likeness.
The rugged Chimney Tops pierce the forest that cloaks most of the Great Smoky Mountain ridges. The bare rock offers scant soil for plants. Only shallow-rooted shrubs and trees like rhododendron, mountain laurel, red spruce, and eastern hemlock thrive here.
One of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Chimney Tops trail gains 1400 feet over 2 miles – a steep climb! So, wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water.
With only one seating area along the trail, I would recommend that hikers carry a walking-stick or trekking-poles, either of which makes resting easier by supporting ones’ weight, when necessary.
The trail crosses rushing streams on three occasions, prior to ascending the side of the mountain. Though principally hard-packed dirt with light gravel, both stone & wooden steps located periodically along the trail serve to facilitate an easier hiking-experience.
On my visit, I arrived early and was the third car parked and the second hiker to reach the top. Pictured below is a wood & dirt structure where visitors may rest and enjoy a wonderful view of the Smokies.
The best place to see the Chimney Tops, however, is located to the left, another 50 feet along the trail. Here, looking towards the northwest, the bright morning sun highlighted the front-face of the pinnacles for stunning views! For hikers continuing beyond this point, be careful – a narrow trail, fallen trees, slippery rocks and substantial height along this steep mountain entails cautious deliberation.
At 18-seconds, you’ll see a circular gap within the trees along the ridge (right side); this is the observation area – see black and white photograph, above.
Several of these photographs are available in my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America, and more will be added in the days ahead – so, stop by for a visit! Enjoy selecting your choice of framed, canvas, art, metal, acrylic and/or wood prints. Tapestries & other items, too.
For a better sense of height from the pinnacles, here are two photographs highlighting the scenic view parking areas (see photograph at beginning), the later with zoom magnification: