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:
I recently visited the Smoky Mountains to hike Charlies Bunion, and another spot known as The Jump Off. Located along the Appalachian Trail between Tennessee and North Carolina, much of the trail is at an altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level, and, after seven hours, I hiked a total of approx. ten miles.
The name is, as one might suspect, related to feet. In 1929, Horace Kephart and Charlie Conner, a mountain guide from Oconaluftee, climbed the area to inspect damage after a recent fire. With a sore foot from hiking, Charlie removed his shoe, Horace offered a comment, and the rest is history.
The moral of the story: never underestimate the value of quality footwear!
Despite references I’ve read which describe the trail as firm-packed, much of the trail is rocky: smaller loose, flat stones; medium stepping stones; and, larger rocks. There are also several logs installed along the trail to be used as stairs, and others positioned to reduce erosion by redirecting water-runoff.
In addition to occasional glimpses of surrounding mountains and valleys through the trees, hikers can enjoy a variety of forest-scenery along the trail; in particular, a continuous display of moss & ferns. I also briefly saw two turkeys on the trail.
Signs And A Shelter
You’ll find several signs along the trail, though some could use improvement. For instance, there isn’t any reference to Charlies Bunion (nor trail distance) at the trailhead. Also, near the shelter, it’s unclear that the subsequent – and, substantial – descent to Charlies Bunion is the correct direction (it is). Lastly, the sign to The Jump Off states a distance of 0.3 miles – however, it’s at least a 1/2 mile each way.
The shelter has an eating area, benches and bunk beds to easily accommodate four adults. It also has a fireplace. There’s spring water available, which must be boiled before drinking, and a toilet area as well. Furthermore, metal cables are provided to secure your food high above the ground – as a precaution against bears. This is the place to be when the weather turns stormy!
Whether in your home, office, lobby or cafeteria, prints of the Smoky Mountains look good in any room! Select from a variety of prints, including: framed, canvas, art, metal, wood and acrylic. Visit my gallery to see more!
Here’s a video taken at Charlies Bunion. At conclusion, you can also see The Jump Off – a flat area along the ridge at upper left:
Thanks for stopping by!
This glass of water was photographed in a restaurant located on top of a mountain – what a view! You, too, may enjoy this view – in your home or office – on a print from my gallery at Pixels.
Check it out…
As part of my House Mountain in Knoxville, TN series…
Part Three: East Overlook
With a storm-front expected to produce 1-2″ of snow the following day, I took advantage of a low-50’s, sunny forecast to enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking to the top of the Mountain Trail (blue trail), the East Overlook is a short 0.7 miles in each direction and provided a scenic setting…
Continuing uphill, interesting rock formations peppered the landscape, reinforcing the decision to bring my camera along for the hike. Here are some more photographs as I approached the East Overlook –
I’ve included this short video to provide visitors with a panoramic view from the top of House Mountain:
After relaxing for a while to appreciate the scenery, I headed back toward the Mountain Trail (blue trail), observing various areas of interest along the way – such as:
I’ve uploaded some of these photographs to my gallery at Fine Art America, now available as prints – check it out!
Part One: The Ascent
House Mountain is located in Corryton, Tennessee, just 10 miles northeast of Knoxville, and, at 2,110 feet above sea level, it’s the highest elevation in Knox County. The actual mountain stands 1,000 feet above the surrounding valley floor, with a few different trails available for hikers to select. I chose the Mountain Trail (blue trail), which is 1 mile long.
The following photographs are available as prints in my gallery at Fine Art America, and provide a fair representation (in sequence) of the challenging terrain along the trail.
Despite a strenuous climb lasting for approximately 1 hour until I reached the 1-mile marker on the trail, the views along the way were wonderful! Huge boulders were strewn along the mountainside and, looking up, it sometimes appeared to be impossibly steep, where the mountain seemed to be leaning uncomfortably forward – a dizzying view!
The Crest Trail sign shown above reads as follows –
The Crest Trail traverses the top of the mountain and is 1.5-miles long from overlook to overlook, winding along the top of the ridge partly on public and partly on private land. At each end of the Crest Trail you can enjoy a splendid view. The approach to the East End Overlook winds through many large boulders. The East End Overlook provides a view of Clinch Mountain, the parent of House Mountain, and the ridge and valley toward Blaine and Rutledge. The West End Overlook provides a great view of Knoxville, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the Cumberland Mountains out toward Oak Ridge.
I first headed toward the West Overlook, took in the sights and then returned. Next, I hiked to the East Overlook – which, in my opinion and despite the aforementioned accolades, is a much more scenic & preferred location – before descending the Mountain Trail (blue trail) back to the car. Altogether, it was a 5-mile hike at a level of exertion certain to leave me sore by morning!
The hike was a slow process, with matters of proper footing a real concern along the way. Steep drops in close proximity to the trail were a good reminder to always remain cautious. Rocks and roots served as steps in many areas, and wet spots from a few different springs were observed. In a few instances, trails diverted to skirt around large fallen trees, though most of the hiking was ‘obstacle-free’.